It is often said that having a baby changes your priorities. For Sarah Marsh, this was certainly the case as she gave up her role as pub landlady and set up a shop – just for babies.
Finding it hard to find independent shops catering purely for babies, the 32-year-old decided mums-to-be needed more choice, so after her daughter Mia was born, she opened her first shop – Baby Boutique in her hometown of Whitehaven, Cumbria.
After a successful 18 months, Sarah felt it was time to expand and after searching up and down the country for the perfect location, she found the ideal spot in St George’s Centre, Preston.
The shop opened three months ago and is already making its mark in the shopping mall.
Sarah says: “It all started online in 2014 when I started selling through Facebook.
“I stopped this as I was pregnant with my baby girl Mia.
“I found there were no real shops where I could buy baby clothes, so this got me thinking.
“When Mia arrived and I was on maternity leave, I had too much time on my hands so I started looking in to the possibility of opening a store when my maternity leave finished rather than going back to work and being stuck working for a company.
“Before opening the shop I was a landlady at the Black Bull at Egremont and before that I was a mortgage advisor.
“But I wanted to build something for my baby’s future, so after I had Mia I opened my first shop in Whitehaven, where I lived.
“I was there for a year before I relocated to a bigger store in Carlisle.
“It ticks away nicely and I get a lot of steady custom.
“I decided I wanted to replicate that in another town. I was looking around and Preston seemed a really good idea.
“We sell items that you can’t get on the High Street, for example lovely Spanish and Portuguese outfits, nice blankets, headbands and Christening wear.
“I am always looking for different fun and beautiful things to fill the store with.
“We stock prams and travel systems from independent brands, such as BabyStyle, Peg Perago, Venicci and Mee-go, as well as dolly prams and chairs.”
With family being the name of the game. Sarah’s mum, Barbara McLean manages the Preston store, while Sarah works in Carlisle.
Her husband, Connor, also helps out and even two-year-old Mia makes her presence known.
Sarah, 32, adds: “We don’t bring Mia in often but she does have a chair in the Carlisle shop. She knows it is mummy’s shop and she says hello to people.
“She is obviously kitted out in the outfits – she is like a walking advert.
“I used to put dresses on her and take photos to promote the shop. It is hard getting her to take a good photo, so I had to take about 50.
“I basically set this up for Mia. I hope it will provide her with a good future.
“I work really hard to make it better all the time. Although the shop shuts at 5.30pm, I can work at home until as late as 11pm.
“By the time I come home from work at 6pm I only get to see Mia for an hour before she goes to bed. But I am building a future for her and when she is older I will be more flexible to take time off.
“Mia is happy going to nursery and meeting new friends.”
As Sarah is busy keeping the business running, she is safe in the knowledge the Preston shop is well looked after by her mum.
Barbara is more than happy to support her daughter and granddaughter.
The 62-year-old says: “It is lovely working here as I get to see my daughter. She usually comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is quality mother-daughter time.
“It is a really special thought that the business started from Mia and it is for her.
“I basically help out while Sarah is in the Carlisle shop.
“I really enjoy working here and I like the family feel.
“All the customers are really friendly and happy.
“I am proud of what Sarah has achieved.”