Keira O'Mara is the founder of Mama Designs, a company based in the UK that has been creating design-led, practical baby products for ten years now! She came up with her product ideas out of her own needs, and her goal has always been to make mom's lives easier. Keira's incredible work ethic, clever products, beautiful design, and social media presence has helped her business to grow and thrive. Read on to find our how she's mastered owning a business while being a full-time mama!
Hi Keira! Tell us about yourself, your background, and how Mama Designs came to be.
Hi! I am a 40-year-old mama of two. I live in Birmingham (UK). My background was in customer marketing and sales for large FMCG companies, but I was made redundant while on maternity leave with my little boy, Sam (now 10). I was self-conscious breastfeeding in public, and when searched online and was unable to find something to help, I decided to use my redundancy money to create a product. Mamascarf was born. I had no real experience but was determined to do something that would give me more time at home with my baby boy. The business launched in November 2008, and now almost ten years later we have a whole range of products for mamas and babies. My favorite item is constantly changing, as we launch new stuff. Can I cheat and pick two?! At the moment I am loving our geometric hummingbird muslin swaddles and our new quilted playmat in grey with turquoise trim.
How do you come up with ideas for your designs and products? What sets you apart from other companies that make baby products? What is your favorite item that you sell and why?
The first few products were inspired by my experiences as a mum. Babasac, my second product, a multi tog baby sleeping bag came to be after a holiday with my family and having to buy baby Lily a summer weight sleeping bag. I decided to create a 2 in 1 bag, similar to my duvet. Snoodie, my dribble snood/bibs were also inspired by Lily as she got a wet and sore neck from standard triangular dribble bibs. I also wanted to create something that looked better than anything else on the market. Since then, more recent products have come from a desire to put our twist on classic products (such as the cellular blanket) ours are soft cotton, in beautiful colors with contrasting cotton trims, or just simply to make a basic item more attractive (muslin squares and swaddles in our prints). I get my inspiration for prints from anything and everything - just this weekend I photographed some graffiti on a wall which inspired me for a new print idea. For colors, I look in magazines, visit new places, go shopping, visit shows, galleries, or read trend reports. I think the fact that we're a small company and all mums set us apart from other baby companies. All new product ideas get not only safety-tested but road-tested by parents before we launch. I like to make sure we treat all of our customers how I would like to be treated myself, and we get great feedback on our customer service as a result. We get great feedback from parents that our products help their babies sleep better and make their lives easier and that makes me happy.
Mothers are the hardest working people on the planet. How does @mamadesigns help to alleviate them and make their job easier? How do you balance life as a working mom?
Hopefully, our products help mums and make their lives a bit easier as well as a bit more beautiful. Our Babasac baby sleeping bag/sleep sack is two in one with removable layers meaning it can be used all year round - saving time, money and space on storage. Our Mamascarf gives mums the confidence to feed in public; our bamboo breast pads are soft and gentle and slim and discreet so no fears about visible breast pads. Our cellular blankets allow airflow and are safe and breathable for babies. All of these problem-solving aspects our products are designed with the stylish mama and baby in mind and to bring a bit of cool to nursery products. I balance it all by having great people to support me in my business. I have a fantastic team and I outsource everything else. It is a juggle and at times a struggle but I love what I do, and I love my family, so I make it work. That sometimes means catching up in the evenings so that I can do the school run but it is worth it and I love the flexibility of having my own business.
When it comes to Instagram, how do you decide what content to share?
Thank you! I am addicted to Instagram and we have collaborated with some amazing influencers and stylists, as well as our customers who often send fabulous pictures that we can share. I don't share everything from customers, sometimes the light isn't great or it's not quite on brand...but I do share a lot. I try to share a mixture of babies in our products and nursery shots. A good nursery picture can get a lot of love and interaction and everyone loves a newborn picture!
What are your top 3 tips when it comes to marketing a business on Instagram?
- Identify influencers that are a good fit for your brand and reach out to see if they would like to collaborate on some pictures. Bigger is not always better. I've found micro influencers who are "on brand" to be much better than some big influencers with huge followings. Chances are they will post more and you will gain more from it as a result.
- You can work with other non-competing brands in a similar way to influencers and share images containing several different products, whether a flatlay or in a shoot or even swap products for shoots. Both brands can use the images and you get double the reach.
- Giveaways can be great for gaining new followers. I try to do them with brands with a similar reach to mine. I also think that less is more. If 15 brands are involved in a giveaway, it can be off-putting for the consumer (if they have to follow all) I recommend around eight brands for a giveaway and working with different brands each time, so it is a brand new audience.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or business owners who are parents?
Having support makes all of the difference. Childcare, even a small amount, will allow you to get so much more done than working around your children. Help at home or admin support in the business is also a game changer. Even just a small amount of help will make such a difference and you will be surprised how you ever managed without it! Happy mama equals happy children!