Sharlene Lindsay had a problem. She was expecting her first child but could not find all of the essentials for preparing to bring a baby into her home. Shops on Montserrat did not stock breast pads, quality blankets or even cute little outfits for newborns. She thought of starting a baby store that was just for moms but was discouraged by others that it wouldn’t work. After all, Montserrat was small and the population didn’t seem to be growing.
The Problem Remains
Seven years, later the idea was still with her as she brought her second baby into the world. Nothing had changed. It was still hard to find breast pads if you ran out of what was purchased on Antigua. Still no where to find cute outfits for her tiny baby girl on island. Thanks to friends overseas, baby Sierra had tons of cute clothes and shoes which would cover the first year of her life. But what did other women do? Where did they shop? Maybe it was time for Just For You Baby Store, the name she’d chosen years before.
This is not Lindsay’s first rodeo with business. She had already successfully launched Island Diva Mas, where for more than 10 years, she created gorgeous costumes for men and women revelers to play mas. Her costumes have ended up on the parade routes of carnivals in Antigua, Jamaica, Boston, and Atlanta.
This was to have been the year Island Diva Mas expanded to even larger carnivals like Nottinghill in the UK. The pandemic halted all of the carnival 2020 mas plans as event after event was cancelled.
“It was really tough to see all the business disappear and I’d already put in a lot of work to create the designs, collect samples and we had customers lined up to play mas in the UK,” the entrepreneur shared.
2020: The Year to Start Just For You?
2020 did not look like the year to start a new venture but the idea would not go away. Sharlene shared her idea with a couple of friends and this time they were more encouraging and they brainstormed together how it could become a reality. The vision was not to have a physical storefront but to use social media to find customers and then deliver or arrange for pickup. Eliminating the cost of renting a building would help her keep her costs down, which she felt would be important to new families and single parents.
She began by writing down one goal that she needed to complete in two weeks, which was finding suppliers. “I got on it and then when one of my friends saw I was serious, they gave me a credit card to use. Next thing I knew I was shopping for stuff and asking my friend and business coach Nerissa Golden, how am I going to sell these to people?”
The young mother admitted that her biggest challenge was herself. “I had doubts about whether I could really do this and fears about if it’ll be a successful venture. While I believe in myself, I’m always my biggest critic and most times, too hard on myself,” said Lindsay.
Golden preaches the importance of building a platform you own and Sharlene expanded her initial plan of only using social media to investing in building a website.
“Who would’ve known that building an ecommerce website was so much work!” she exclaimed. Just For You Baby Store required a storefront to display all the products and an ecommerce infrastructure to process orders. Goldenmedia provided business and marketing support and the ecommerce-enabled site was developed by Start Up Media.
Hundreds of pieces of product had to be staged for photos to be uploaded to the site. Even more videos and social media content had to be created to ensure there was a regular stream of content to encourage potential customers to visit the site. This process took much longer than she estimated. There were also early issues with working out how people would be able to pay for the products. Payments can be made via the site by credit card and PayPal or as cash on delivery.
Another challenge she encountered, was the Customs duties in Montserrat. “Providing quality goods at affordable prices is one of the store’s aims and by the time you add on those duties🤦🏽♀️”
Just For You Baby Store officially went live on Saturday, October 3, 2020. Lindsay kicked off the occasion by inviting several local moms to be her guests on a Live Instagram chat.
“That was nerve racking to go live on IG and yet eye opening. The moms (Penny Maloney, Deonne Semple, Tameka Duke and Jamilia Greenaway) came through and we talked about the real issues as every woman had a different pregnancy and birthing experience. The women were candid about the difficulties they had with becoming pregnant, labour, and raising children on Montserrat,” she said.
Watch Mom Talk Pt 1 on IG
Watch Mom Talk Pt 2 on IG
The business and the website are still going through startup teething.
“Getting people used to using the website instead of calling my phone or visiting my home to place an order is something I continue to be challenged with. I’m definitely here to assist a customer if they’re having an issue or to have a one-on-one meeting with a client who needs a bit more attention but calling me after 10pm to ask if you can buy a blanket is a no no. You can just go to www.JustForYouBabyStore.com and place your order.”
Sharlene advises people with ideas to get started. “While you’re thinking about it and rethinking and thinking again, others have thought, started, failed/succeeded, tweaked and fixed areas, winning and you’re still there thinking about this “awesome idea”. Take the time to research and plan but get started,” encouraged Lindsay. “Block out the “noise” and put in the work. Also, never underestimate the power of a good support system. Get one. Not a group of “yes men” but people who will cheer you on as well as critique.”
We congratulate this young entrepreneur on her new venture and encourage you to visit her website at www.JustForYouBabyStore.com.
Website – https://www.justforyoubabystore.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/justforyoubabystore/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/justforyoubabystore/