Neera Sharma

CEO

Gifts for Little Hands – Supporting parents with their children’s development through high quality toys and activities

What her business does

Our mission is empower and enable every parent to be confident when supporting their child’s early learning journey at home. We do this by providing educational toys that are aligned to the early years curriculum so parents can be reassured they are choosing products that will help their child develop, learn and have fun. In summer 2017 we are also launching the ‘Learning club’ a free app that parents can use to understand and track their child’s learning milestones. The learning club will provide parents with a full program of activities that parents can do at home with their child including print outs and top tips from experts.

Her business journey and how she arrived at the business idea and started her own business

Guilty, frustrated and anxious is why i started my business… Let me explain. I was working for a large pharmaceutical company as a corporate affairs manager in a job i actually loved. What I hated was the 4 hour commute from Birmingham to London. I had two wonderful but crazy boys who loved mummy but only ended up seeing them for a few hours a day during the week. By the time I got home it was bath time which only left me with around half an hour to have a cuddle and read a book. I used to feel guilty that I wasn’t spending enough time with them and as they approached age 3/4 I felt anxious that they wouldn’t be ready for school. Both my boys are born in the summer which meant they would be the youngest in the class. I knew there were going to be children a whole year ahead of them and much more advanced and the truth is I didn’t want my children to feel they were not as good as the other children or to be honest in the bottom of the class. I have always believed that the early years are the building blocks of a child and both my partner and I wanted them to have good foundations from the start. Don’t get me wrong my children play A LOT and have LOTS of fun, but as I was told by their nursery manager, there were expectations, milestones that they should be able to meet prior to starting school.  I am sure all parents have been there, when you are at a party and a friend is commenting how great their child is and that they can do ‘this and that’ and you feel for that slight second that you are this inadequate and bad parent because your child cannot do that. Yep I know all children develop at different paces and are all unique, but I didn’t even know what I should be looking out for. The nursery my children attended talked a lot about the Early Years Foundation Framework (EYFS) and the importance in helping children meet their milestones. I searched the internet for activities I could do at home to support my child and was left frustrated at the lack of information for parents. Most of the information was for educators rather than parents and found  little advice on what I should be expecting of my child at a certain age. Coupled with that I bought several ‘educational toys’ for my children but felt they didn’t really offer great value. I soon realized there was an opportunity to help parents like me by having a platform that provided parents with the right information from products to activities so all children could go to school feeling confident and parents felt happy and less stressed. I spoke to experts in the field of early learning and together my business partner and I came up with Gifts for Little Hands a marketplace of educational toys, and the learning club a content based platform to help parents understand their child’s milestones, provide them with a host of activities so parents can get involved in their child’s learning but most importantly to ensure that children would have fun whilst learning.

What she finds most rewarding about having her own business

Personally I love that I can now work around my children. I get to drop them and pick them up, hear all about their day, watch them have a tantrum and get to have lots of cuddles and kisses:) From a professional perspective, I feel passionate about helping other parents. I was that parent juggling work, children, husband, house chores and everything else that life wants to throw at us, but still trying to be the best mum I could be. It is a stressful job being a mum and no parent should go to bed feeling guilty and stressed because they don’t know how to support their child’s development. If we can help make every parents life easier then we have done a good job!

How she approaches being a mum and an entrepreneur

I am not going to lie it’s hard work, but it means being super organised, early starts and starting again once the kids are in bed. But that’s the way it is for now and I am sure it will get easier.

The biggest challenges she has faced in her business

Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow. Do I need to say anymore!! Cash is king as they say.

How she overcame those challenges

We are currently looking for investment to help us grow and meet our ambitious targets.

What do you celebrate as accomplishments in your business?

We are at the start of our journey so every little thing we celebrate from sales to new people joining the team. This is going to be a long journey and all the little milestone we celebrate.

Advice to mums considering entrepreneurship

Just do it!

Visit Neera’s website

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