If you're looking for inspiration or are teetering on the edge of starting your own business this interview is for you. Lynne is brimming with enthusiasm and passion for her creation and gives great advice for those who are putting of starting something because they're not sure if they're ready...
This interview is part of our It's Never Too Late series, championing women regardless of age, to follow their big, bold ambitions.
Hi Lynne, it's so lovely to chat to you - let's start with who you are and what you do
Hi! I'm Lynne Healey and I am the creator of Birdham Bear. Birdham Bear is a knitted teddy and I have independently published story books and other products all to support children to remember who they really are as they grow up. To think about their ‘unique’ as Birdham Bear likes to call it and how they will share it with the world. I want all children to grow up with a strong sense of self, knowing and speaking their truth.
Birdham Bear is so cute! How old were you when you started this business and how long have you been running the business?
I was 59 and I've been running the business for four years now.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes I was, and still am, a self-employed life coach specialising in supporting women both personally and professionally
So what inspired you to create Birdham Bear?
Good question…it was not planned! Birdham Bear was born in answer to a question I kept asking myself while running confidence and self-esteem programmes for women: ‘What’s going wrong?. Children don’t come into the world with low self-esteem. What can we do differently to support them to grow up without losing their confidence and self-belief – their sense of self?’
It was never in my plan to become a children’s author but Birdham Bear obviously wanted to be here and I was the person to make it happen.
I took a deep breath and dived in. This was my opportunity to ‘practice what I preached’. Just as I have been guiding others to do for so long I followed my intuition, listened to my heart and TRUSTED that it would all happen perfectly. Even though this was a whole new, unknown world for me!
To start with I saw my work with women and Birdham Bear as very separate but gradually over the 4 years the lines have been blurring. I’ve been very happy to allow it all to unfold in it’s own time rather than try to push an agenda…and it’s working brilliantly.
What was hard in the beginning?
Hmmm, I suppose believing in myself enough in this new venture. Even though I’d been in business in various guises for about 20 years I had kept it pretty low key so hadn’t pushed myself too far out of my comfort zone. I’d played it safe. Entering the expensive and difficult world of self-publishing and selling books was a very steep learning curve.
It's quite a different venture to your coaching. What did you find surprising?
Initially, how little I understood why I’d created Birdham Bear, but the more I talked about it my understanding and confidence grew. Also, how much I had to get out of my own way to allow the business to grow and expand rather than be limited by my mindset.
So now you've been running for four years - is there anything you'd do differently?
I would have had less books printed, I fell into the trap of the lower unit price for each book making it seem more financially viable for selling them, blissfully and naively unaware of how difficult it is to sell books. Apart from that nothing really, it has been a wonderful journey of personal growth which, of course, positively impacts my business.
If I had waited until I’m the person I am today before launching Birdham Bear I’d still be waiting, as it was developing Birdham Bear that pushed me to where I am today.
What are you passionate about?
Our beautiful planet and all life on it. Being the best version of me I can be which means continuing to create new opportunities to grow and learn. My clients are used to me saying ‘we are all works in progress’ and I truly believe that. We never stop discovering more about ourselves, no matter what age we are. Last, but not least, playing my part in changing the way we nurture our children. I want to create a world where adults don’t need coaches and other professionals to help them reconnect with who they really are.
What makes you feel good inside?
So much makes me feel good inside, if I choose just 3 it would be walking on the beach, hugging the people I love, a little girl who, after listening to me reading a Birdham Bear story, sighed and simply said ‘I loved that.’
So what is something that has made you proud in the last 12 months
My funtivity book ‘This is Me! Your book of you’ being awarded 1st place in the activity book category of the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
If you feel that fire in your belly, that pull to start something new GO FOR IT! Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly how it will unfold, that’s part of the adventure. Take the first step – until you do the energy can’t flow. I’ve experienced over and over how things line up to support me. Do not even think about your age, or if you do, think of all the wisdom and experience you have now that your younger self didn’t. I invested my tax free lump sum from my pension to start Birdham Bear and can’t think of a better use for that money. Retirement…what’s that?
Finally Lynne, what are you goals for the next 12-months?
I’ve just started a brand new Birdham Bear passion project ‘We Are One … knitting our world together. Project UK’. Lockdown permitting, I want to have 5 very special Birdham Bear’s installed in their new homes by the end of the year. I have no idea how this will happen, I’m trusting that it will all line up . I’ve been waiting for lockdown to ease before starting as I want to travel round the UK but as that doesn’t look like happening any time soon I’m doing as much as I can virtually. I’ll very happily provide details if you want to know more.
Connect with Lynne
If you want to find out more about Lynne & Birdham Bear you can connect with her here:
It's Never Too Late
Once thing we hear a lot from women over 40 is "I'd love to do x,y,z but it's just too late now". It's not. It never, ever is. We started this series as a way to encourage more women to follow their dreams and ambitions regardless of how many years they've been on the planet!
If you've got a story to tell you can contact us on Emma@womenwd.co.uk
Have you listened to our podcast? Her Business & Co is all about sharing the big stories from small businesses, just like yours. Listen here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcast joy.