My Early Hour: Alison Mugford and Marie Banks, Meminio

“Marie found her Gran’s old suitcase and started using it for her daughter’s memories. We then came up with the concept of designing our own vintage style cases to keep children’s memories safe and special”. We talk mornings, motherhood and business with Meminio…

Alison Mugford, 40, lives in Hampton Hill, Greater London, with her husband, son Teddy, nine, and daughter Betsie, seven. Marie, 38, also lives in Hampton hill with her partner and their children: Maisie, nine, Fred, seven, and one on the way – due in July.

What’s your home like?
Alison: 1930s semi detached with back extension for kitchen/ diner/ living area where we all spend all of our time. It’s modern and uncluttered.

Marie: Busy, loud and quite messy! Most of the time.

What time are you up in the morning?
Alison: 6.30/ 7am.

Marie: Late – I was always a morning person until having Maisie and then I started l started having very lazy mornings.

What wakes you up?
Alison: Betsie and my body clock.

Marie: Normally Fred getting into bed for a cuddle.

How do you feel?
Alison: Tired but I can’t lie in bed so I usually jump out of bed.

Marie: Like I could always stay in bed for 5 more minutes.

What do you do first thing?
Alison: Have a cup of tea.

Marie: I get up and feed Winston our six –month-old puppy who is always hungry.

In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Alison: Hectic, noisy, short.

Marie: Chatty, quick and looking for lost items (sorry know that’s not three words but it happens every morning!).

What’s for breakfast?
Alison: Another cup of tea followed by coffee at 10.30am.

Marie: Granola and yoghurt or porridge.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
Alison: I will run home from the school, jump in the shower and then I’m ready to start work.

Marie: Walk Winston in the park and then back home to work from home.

What’s your workspace like?
Alison: At my desk in my kitchen/ diner.

Marie: My kitchen!

Where are the kids when you’re working?
Alison: At school.

Marie: At school at the moment but in July we will have the baby to keep us company.

Tell us about your business…
Alison: We launched in November 2015 with our Memory Cases and Folders. Marie found her Gran’s old suitcase and started using it for her daughter’s memories. We then came up with the concept of designing our own vintage style cases to keep children’s memories safe and special.

What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Alison: Not allowing the stress to creep into family time.

Marie: Time – there is never enough!

What makes it all worthwhile?
Alison: I just love packing up and sending out our beautiful cases to families all over the world. Knowing that children and families are being celebrated by using our cases makes me feel so proud.

Marie: The emails we get from our customers telling us how gorgeous our products are and what a difference it has made to their life or how the gift receiver said it was their most thoughtful gift ever!

Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others; do you enjoy, for instance, the creative side but not the accounts?
Alison: We have to delegate graphic design and some photography. But other than that we design, create, pack, source, do the spreadsheets ourselves.

Marie: I love the creative side and pushing the business forward. Although I used to be a maths teacher I don’t enjoy the accounts and the boring paperwork!

Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
Marie: I definitely love having a business partner to bounce ideas off and share our successes with. Without Alison I don’t get a lot of work done she is a hard taskmaster!

What’s the secret to career success?
Alison: If you are passionate about what you do then you will always do well.

Marie: Being happy with what you do.

Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing motherhood/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Alison: Yes, I have had to give up a lot of time with friends since starting this, I miss out on coffee mornings but I try and make up for it with dinner and a glass of wine instead.

Marie: No. The lovely thing about working for yourself is that you can be flexible.

Describe an ideal weekend?
Alison: On Saturdays I enjoy watching the kids play sport during the day followed by family entertainment on the TV or going out for dinner with friends. Sundays are for brisk walks – a beach or countryside followed by a roast and lots of red wine.

Marie: Family time in the sun.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Alison: Any beach in the sunshine would make me very happy!

Marie: In Australia seeing my sister who has just had her first baby.

Visit the website: Meminio