Home Business Heroes: Philippa Gogarty

Name: Philippa Gogarty

Location: South Coast

Business: www.micro-scooters.co.uk

This week, we speak to Philippa Gogarty, co-founder and managing director of Micro Scooters Ltd. Her business, started as simply selling to other mothers in the school playground has developed into a hugely successful company with a turnover in the millions. Despite all this, she and her fellow co-founder Anna Gibson still manage the business from their homes, surrounded by children and stray toys.

How did you start selling micro scooters?

A friend of mine who's now my business partner came across the mini micro scooter while walking on Clapham Common about six or seven years ago. She took down the details and bought one for her son. My son spent a lot of time with her son and of course he wanted what his friend had, so we googled micro scooters and found the main distributor who was based in Brighton. We just started buying them from there and selling to friends and then friends of friends. The UK distributors went out of business. So we went to the manufacturer in November 2004 and persuaded them to give us the distribution rights exclusively in the UK and Ireland.

How did you manage to convince them to give you that exclusivity?

We were just so passionate about it and that won them over. I genuinely think micro scooters were and still are the best thing on the market. It changed our lives as mothers as it means you can stop using your buggies. They are so easy for children to get the hang of too.

How did you manage to get the scooters in shops?

We got going in January 2005 and we made great connections in the school playground. A friend of a friend knew the owner of Cheeky Monkeys and after meeting with them, they started to sell our scooters. We also managed to find the head toy-buyer at John Lewis and persuade her to sell our scooters. We've been the best selling toy for the last three years in John Lewis shops.

What was it like working from home?

When Anna and I first set it up we worked out of our houses in London that were overrun by small children and we were struggling for space. I actually worked out of the children's playroom, or the kitchen table. Wherever I could find a spot. But that's how I like it. Even now I still work from home, as it's the only way I can have my children in my life. I have my PA in the house with me so he can talk to me when I'm buttering toast for the children. Luckily we have a warehouse to keep all the stock in now.

Pippa GoGarty

Was it not hard to stay focused when you had so many distractions around you?

We'd always be speaking to buyers and each other with screaming children in the background. But the lovely thing was, I think the buyers and businesses we spoke to, liked it. For us managing our children's lives with our business worked well as the children would be out on Clapham Common on the scooters and people would stop and ask us about them.

I used to send out the scooters by parcels. So I'd have to race back from the pick up at nursery to meet the Parcelforce delivery guy. In the end, I got his name and number and I'd be ringing him to arrange how I could get the parcels to him on time.

But I've never had a problem with focusing on my job. I love the variety of what I do and there is always so much to do, I love it. I'm so passionate about it and it's always worked so brilliantly. I am amazed at our success. When we started, in my wildest dreams I thought our scooters might appear on one of the floors of Peter Jones. I never ever imagined it to go so huge. I'm overwhelmed by our success.

So you never got lonely then?

I'm not sure you can ever get lonely when you're running a business. It's more you get disappointed about the things you can't do becasue you have to turn down a lot. For instance, I never had the time to go for a coffee with the other mothers from school. You won't get lonely if you're trying to run a business and juggle a family at the same time, there's just too much to do.

Pippa Gogarty3

What's the best thing about working from home?

The best thing is that it enables me to be involved in my family life. I've never ever felt that I am not there for a crisis.

What's the worst?

The downside of working from home are you never really have a day off as your workpace is your home as well so you're never far enough away from it.

What would make your home business life easier?

Better internet connection speeds for rural places. I just heard that the government is going to improve urban areas even more, but what about those of us who work outside of those areas?  We are relying on internet connections to run our business, so I'd like our speed match that of the cities.

For more information about micro-scooters, click here

Home Business Heroes, in association with Vikingnew

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