Audrey Buck, 55, from Suffolk, worked as a radio engineer for the BBC and later as a director of a training company before giving up everything to start her own family two decades ago
Image: Audrey Buck)
A mom who quit her job to raise her daughter full-time has opened up about her journey from engineer to multi-million dollar businesswoman — all thanks to her little girl.
Audrey Buck, 55, from Suffolk, worked as a radio engineer for the BBC and later as a director of a training company before giving up everything to start her own family two decades ago.
But while raising her eldest, she stumbled upon a completely “groundbreaking” business idea.
“My middle child was born in 2001 when I was 34,” Audrey told The Mirror, reciting the year she gave up her career.
“When she was little, she had trouble sleeping during the day. A friend suggested using a good blackout blind,” she said.
As an experiment, Audrey taped black trash bags to her daughter’s nursery window to completely block out the light.
“It worked wonderfully,” she said. “So I quickly made a trip to our local haberdashery store and bought materials to make a blackout blind that seals the frame to shut out all outside light.”
“It was a game changer,” Audrey said, and within weeks her friends were asking her to make similar ones for their young children.
“I started to wonder if I could make a business out of it. I started with a few ads in parenting magazines and then built a small website and Easyblinds took off from there.”
Using a how-to book from WHSmith, Audrey built her online site and began placing orders around her home and schedule.
“I already had a computer and a printer, and the only investment other than putting out a few magazine ads was a roll of blackout fabric, all the necessary supplies, and some packaging.
“Whenever the kids were in bed or at school, I would set aside an area where I could roll out and cut the fabric I needed! Everything was done at our home, which was difficult with three young children, but got the business off the ground at no extra cost. “
She deliberately started small: “We decided to start like this and let the business prove itself, or not.”
Luckily it was a success.
“The business grew and funded itself. The money from the early sales was used to buy more materials, so I started and grew the business without funding or financial support,” explained Audrey.
Last year Easyblinds grew to £1.4million in sales.
“In the beginning, all sales were mail order. I let it work around me as I was determined to be a housewife.
“I started at Amazon in 2008,” she said.
This allowed Audrey to bring Easyblinds to the United States.
“For a while, our sales were 50% website and 50% Amazon, until we tried Fulfillment by Amazon in 2011.
“It changed everything and took a weight out of my hands. Amazon now accounts for over 80% of our sales.”
Audrey also sells independently to companies in Australia and New Zealand that she approached through Amazon.
“Each of these businesses is run by a mother who does what I do, which is run her business from home.
But despite her achievements, her incredible journey has not been without its challenges.
“In the beginning it was difficult to work and grow the business as it was second to motherhood and therefore meant very long days as I could only really work when I wasn’t looking after the children and spending time with them,” she explained.
“The perfect storm of Brexit and Covid has also presented us with major challenges.
“Brexit made it difficult and expensive to move stock to the EU but fortunately selling through Amazon meant we were fortunately still able to sell to our EU customers.
“Covid brought enormous staffing problems. Our sales began when people had to stay at home with their children and blackout blinds helped their children sleep, but the need to physically distance employees meant we couldn’t hire additional people and had to shift our hours.
“The demand was difficult to meet with reduced working hours. We did it, but it was very hard work and a tiring time.”
Easyblinds is now a limited company and Audrey is the director. She has six employees and a small warehouse.
“Our blackout blinds are now available across Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand and we are now planning to expand into new markets,” she said.
She even had some famous clients.
“Joe Wickes placed one of our blackout blinds, the ‘easynight’, on his social media at the start of the first lockdown – it certainly gave us a good boost in sales.
“When I look back at the company’s beginnings and growth, I sometimes have to pinch myself.
“We are a small team and I am proud of what we have done and what we have achieved.
“We’re a team of women, mostly mothers, and we’ve all learned along the way.
“We’re on a steep learning curve in one way or another and it’s hard work, but it’s been a great journey so far.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/mum-makes-1million-amazon-selling-26793812 Mum makes £1million on Amazon selling blackout blinds she invented for her daughter