Having worked in the banking industry for 20 years, Lincoln mother-of-two Jackie Vannet realised it was time for a change. “I was missing out on all the little things in my children’s lives. They are my world, and I didn’t want them to have a mum who was at work all the time,” Jackie explains.
So in 2005 she decided to leave her job to sell toys, inspired by her daughter, Bethany, who was five at the time and loved educational and traditional games.
Jackie started her entrepreneurial adventure by making a list of Bethany’s favourite toys, which she used to launch her own online store, The Wooden Gnome. Right from the start her shop had a group of loyal customers. “All of my neighbours and friends came to me for new toys for their kids--they were always very happy with Bethany’s choices,” laughs Jackie.
Having received great feedback from her first customers, Jackie decided to go a step further. In 2006 she launched her educational toy store on the Amazon.co.uk Marketplace to reach “more mothers and fathers than I ever thought possible.”
“I just wanted to pick up my daughter from school”
With an ever-increasing range of toys and a growing customer base, Jackie was finally both a successful businesswoman and a much happier mum, enjoying the time with her children she had always craved. However, with Christmas sales accounting for almost half of Jackie’s yearly turnover, The Wooden Gnome’s growth was causing the festive season to become almost unmanageable and was taking the spark out of what should have been a special family time.
“In the lead-up to Christmas 2012 I was spending all of my time packing orders for delivery. It got to the stage that I was hardly sleeping or seeing the family in order to meet the demand we were experiencing,” recalls Jackie.
After the Christmas rush, Jackie decided to test out the service Fulfilment by Amazon to get her work-life balance under control. Now her toys are stored in Amazon’s fulfilment centres, and when customers buy them, Amazon takes care of all the picking and packing, as well as providing customer service.
“What will I do with my free time?”
Now, for the first time in years, Jackie has time for the things that mean the most to her. “My life has completely changed for the better. I can manage my business from home and still find time for myself and for those I love. I get to pick up my kids from school every day and to enjoy the magic moments like reading with them and catching up on the playground news.”
With almost 800 different toys in The Wooden Gnome store on Amazon.co.uk and the majority of Jackie’s business coming from Amazon customers, Jackie is feeling motivated to further develop her business. She has just started the next raft of expansion plans by selling into other European marketplaces and is already seeing the benefits with new customers from outside the UK shopping with her. Jackie is also enlarging her product range--with her daughter’s help, of course. “It’s a real luxury to spend more time with my daughter, playing with and identifying her new favourite toys, which in time thousands of other kids may also enjoy.”