"My company Pequepegas.com is a company whose aim from the beginning was to help some of the youth of Spain. All the designs, including all the designs for the actual website, have been created by young designers who are very talented but have little opportunity, if any, to demonstrate their talent. We are very proud of their creativity, talent and passion." (LA, May 2014)
Whereabouts do you live and what is the area like?
I live in the centre of Madrid. I love being able to step outside and be so close to all the museums and restaurants. There is always something interesting to see.
Why did you decide to move there?
My husband is from Madrid. I met him when we were both living in New York (I am British) and he convinced me to step away from my career and move to Madrid with him.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Too many! I have three. They are 10, 8 and 4.
You are the Creative Founder of Pequepegas.com. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Pequepegas.com (meaning “little sticky things”) is a company that produces labels for personalizing clothes and other belongings. Our aim is to help families save money every year by ensuring that their children’s clothes and belongings, when labelled, will return home with them and won’t join the ever increasing lost property pile at school. We also sell a range of fun height charts and wall vinyls.
Do you design the products yourself or do you work with designers?
I can’t draw to save my life, however, I work with extremely patient designers who are able to interpret my sketches and turn them into something wonderful. Pequepegas.com is a company whose aim from the beginning was to help some of the youth of Spain. All the designs, including all the designs for the actual website, have been created by young designers who are very talented but have little opportunity, if any, to demonstrate their talent. We are very proud of their creativity, talent and passion.
What inspired you to start the business?
When I first moved to Spain there weren’t any labeling companies here and, so with a gap in the market and the need to do something rather than just feed and change my babies, I launched Pequepegas.
How have you found the whole experience of starting up your business? Were people receptive from the beginning?
Starting up your own business is a lot harder than it maybe appears to be. It involved a lot of research and testing in the beginning, as we wanted to ensure that we only used the best quality products that would last the test of time. Years have been spent liaising and working with designers and web-site deveopers. It has been a daunting experience at times with lots of highs and lows. However, yes, thankfully the business has been well received since it went ‘live’.
Has it been difficult starting up a business in the current economic climate?
No, the economic climate hasn’t hindered us at all. If anything, people are keener than ever for their children not to lose their belongings so it has been a positive thing for us. If a child loses his/her school tracksuit, they cost more than €50 a pop. It can get really expensive if your children keep losing things and people are looking to save now more than ever.
How easy is it having 3 young children in Madrid and working full time?
There have certainly been days when I have tried to do everything and ended up feeling a complete failure at everything too. My ‘to do’ list can be daunting at times. I have learned to focus on one thing at a time and, if it doesn’t get done as soon as I had hoped, to not beat myself up about it. I think all working mothers know what it is like to be dealing with deadlines whilst attempting to cook a meal, clean up and create a last minute costume for the school show.
What is your impression of childcare and education where you live?
I am always impressed at how so many children now attend bi-lingual schools in Spain. The level of education is great, if a bit rigid, but I do wish the summer holidays weren’t quite so long.
What school/daycare do your children go to?
My children attend a school in the centre of Madrid. I wanted them to attend a regular Spanish school and be as “normal” as possible.
Why did you choose this school/daycare and are you happy with your choice?
We are very lucky as the children’s school has an excellent reputation in Madrid for good results and demand is very high for places. I am happy with our choice although I sometimes struggle with city schools not having the facilities or space for athletic activities.
What language do you speak at home?
We speak English together as a family although I insist on ‘Spanish Saturdays” more for my benefit as I am the only non-native Spanish speaker in our home.
Do you think it essential to speak Spanish where you live? How good was your knowledge of Spanish before you moved to Madrid?
I arrived in Spain knowing about two words of Spanish and I wasn’t convinced we would stay for long so I resisted learning the language for a while. However, necessity called and, although Madrid has changed a lot in the last ten years and is more ‘international’ than before, you definitely need to know the language to get by. Now, after 11 years, I am happy to chatter away in Spanish and I have had to build our business and be proficient enough in Spanish to be able to liaise with clients, designers, etc. I still get nervous when I write in Spanish though and I double-check everything.
How welcoming have the locals been towards you and your family?
Totally welcoming. I hardly have any ex-pat friends and live very much within the Spanish community. We are just another family and I am the ‘guiri’ Mum at the park.
What advice would you give to mums who may be thinking about starting up their own business?
Estimate how long it will take to set up the business and then double it. I would recommend having a well thought out business plan. You may have an idea but you need to assess if it is a viable product (if not, you could end up terribly in debt). Be prepared to put in a lot of hard work. Do a lot of research into how you want to have your website as changes at a later stage will be inconvenient and costly. I also recommend networking with other people with businesses aimed at similar markets. I have found it so helpful to talk with the fantastic women I have met who have also taken the plunge and set up their own businesses. We have all gone on to do cross promotions and their advice has been invaluable to me (and hopefully vice versa!). Finally, get to the gym or park for some exercise – it gives you time to think about what you need to do next and gets you away from the desk for a while.
What couldn’t you live without in Madrid?
The glorious weather, the food, the friendly people. You can always find someone to talk to easily in any bar.
What could you live without in Madrid?!
Cars jumping the red lights. No one respects any traffic laws here and it makes crossing the road a dangerous experience.