Julia Howe

Ms. Howe opened her store Mother N Me on March 12,  catering to expectant mothers. The Purcell Estate business specialises in maternity clothing, nursing bras, maternity bras, books about pregnancy and baby clothing. Ms. Howe, a graduate of BVI High School and H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, works full-time at a trust company and spends nights and Saturdays at her new store.

Why did you decide to open the business?

I saw the need in the community. Rather than having individuals going online to get attire, I saw that there was a need for that here. There are individuals in the BVI who can’t afford to go off-island, whether to the States or St. Thomas, to purchase maternity clothing, so I thought it would be good to kind of target that area where individuals can stay here and shop locally.

What has the reaction been so far to the opening?

Last week I was here for an entire week and it wasn’t that busy. Mostly after 5 you have people come and go. I think the reason is mostly the word hasn’t gotten around as yet. It’s been on ZROD radio station, and at the end of the month it will be on other radio stations, so the word will get around. … But people are coming by every day to see what I offer and if it meets their needs.

Why did you decide that now would be a good time to open a business?

Well, actually it’s been in the making for about two years, and I just decided that this will be the year for me.

Why are you comfortable taking that risk?

To be honest, I know there is an economic crisis now, but I decided to step out in faith and see how the business will work. Starting a business as a whole is a risk, but as I look around I see there are lots of women here who are pregnant. And, despite the economic crisis, there’s still a need for it to be here.

Why do you think you’re going to be successful in the long run?

I would say the products that I carry. I haven’t seen anyone around here with this … Doctor Brown [brand of baby bottle.] So I think the products are very unique. Even the books I have. … Also the bras, the nursing bras, you don’t see that on a regular basis, so it makes it unique to my store.

What’s the biggest challenge in starting up a small business?

The finances. … Anybody can go for a trade licence, and it is approved, but the finances, the capital to start up, that is the hardest part of getting a business on the road and pushing it off.

Is there anything about your current job that has prepared you to go into business?

I would say managing, being able to manage my funds that I have to start the business. That area I was able to see at my current workplace. Also being able to deal with customers, because I deal with clients on a regular basis.

What advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?

I would say be patient. See what you’re getting into. Be specific about your business and make it unique. Even though there’s other businesses around, there will be one thing that’s unique and special about your business. And be determined, because there will be a lot of obstacles that crop up.