But thanks to Glasgow entrepreneur Amanda Brown, a novel business idea is helping to put parents’ minds at rest.
Amanda, 29, has developed a range of sturdy beaded bracelets for children aged 3-9 to wear which contain their mum’s – or dad’s – mobile number, enabling parents and lost children to be reunited.
While the business, aptly named Phone My Mum, has brought peace of mind to an increasing number of customers, it has also helped Amanda find a new direction in her life. She started the business after being made redundant from her previous job in recruitment in the oil and gas recruitment industry, drawing on support from the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance scheme, which we deliver in several regions across the UK.
Describing how she came up with the idea, Amanda, of Glasgow, said: “My mum used to be really paranoid when I was little, and would pin a piece of paper on my coat with her details on it. Later, I started seeing my friends do it to their kids and write their numbers on their arms.
“Then a friend in Holland shared a photograph on Facebook of someone who’d written their mobile number on their kids arm while they were out. It was shared 133,000 times in three days, and it made me realise that there was really something in being able to produce an identity tag that was more permanent – and something that children would actually want to wear.” Although she started out making a few bracelets for friends, Amanda knew she needed expert advice if she wanted to earn a living from doing it.
That’s when she turned to the NEA, a scheme launched by the Government in 2011 which provides support and mentoring for unemployed budding entrepreneurs claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance and lone parents on income support.
Participants receive access to a volunteer business mentor who provides them with guidance and support as they develop their business plan and through the first six months of trading. Once participants have demonstrated they have a viable business proposition with the potential for growth in the future, they are able to access financial support.
I needed the financial help the NEA offered to allow me to carry on living while I was setting up the business, but I’m not great at numbers so being able to get a mentor was very helpful. Anita Yu, my adviser, was fantastic. She helped me break down all the costs, even factoring in how long it takes me to make each bracelet, so I knew how many I needed to sell. Whenever I’ve come up against problems, or felt overwhelmed, it’s been so helpful to have Anita to call for advice.
Phone My Mum was launched in November 2015, with a new website. Amanda’s bracelets also sell on Amazon and Etsy, and she runs stalls at events in Glasgow, including a Christmas panto.
Each bracelet is personalised with a telephone number, and they come in funky colours, decorated with plastic and acrylic beads in different designs. Available in leather or with elasticised bands, the range includes footballs, flowers and hearts and are designed especially to appeal to children. They sell at £5.95, including p&p.
“Parents have told me their kids don’t like security bands or paper bracelets but they like jewellery with things like flowers and hearts on them,” said Amanda, “The Phone My Mum bracelets do both and they’re perfect for parents and carers to keep in their car or bag and quickly pop them on when they’re entering a busy environment such as the supermarket.”
Phone My Mum has also benefited from a £2,500 loan from Greater London Enterprise, which Anita helped Amanda apply for, and the money has helped Amanda register a trademark and pay for pop-up signs, flyers and other marketing material.
And next month (February), Amanda will join Entrepreneurial Spark, a business accelerator in Glasgow, which offers free office space and training and introduces young entrepreneurs to successful business people.
Amanda said: “I’ve had great feedback, and I think that once word spreads about the bracelets, that the business has great potential. Parents are really appreciative that the bracelets provide that extra level of security for their children – if parents can find their lost child more quickly because of them, then it will all be worth it.”
Anita Yu, PeoplePlus NEA advisor, said:
I’m thrilled that Amanda has been able to get such a great business idea off the ground. The grant will be a great help, and I wish her every success in the future.