Redundancy gives mum design for success

Little Mr M specialises in kids tableware and is owned by Karina Emslie
Little Mr M specialises in kids tableware and is owned by Karina Emslie

Being made redundant from her job in oil and gas six months into her maternity leave forced an Udny woman to re-evaluate her career goals.

Nearly two years on, former lawyer and project manager, Karina Emslie, has used help from Business Gateway Aberdeen City & Shire to launch a children’s tableware company - Little Mr. M & Friends.

Karina with her son Mallku

Karina with her son Mallku

Having recently secured a wholesale deal with a retailer in Staffordshire, the 33-year-old has now secured an order from an online retailer in the Netherlands who will carry her plate, bowl and tumbler which are all decorated with Bobot, a character inspired by her son Mallku’s love of robots.

Karina said: “Redundancy came out of the blue, I’d always been very career driven and immediately I started applying for a wide range of jobs, however, the competition was fierce and I never made it past the initial interview stage.

“Although I found it hard to let go of my professional career, I had to think of a new way to use my skills and generate an income.

“Weaning my son was a time of great joy and frustration, as I couldn’t get him to eat veggies until I started to make ‘dinosaur’ smoothies for him. I then realised that making eating fun could be enjoyable for both of us.

“Mallku and I often played a game where he would follow me around the house with a laundry bag on his head while making beeping sounds like a robot. That inspired me to design the Bobot tableware and start a business that highlights the simple, healthy and fun side of parenting.”

“Coming from Peru, where we aren’t fortunate enough to have free access to business experts and advisers, I decided to use all of Business Gateway’s resources - from completing 10 start-up seminars and a number of DigitalBoost workshops to accessing 1:1 advice. All of which gave me greater confidence and access to further support, including a By Design Grant from Scottish Enterprise.

"Ultimately, I would love to see my products stocked in retailers like John Lewis, and my Business Gateway adviser, Gillian Macdonald, has helped me access IP support from Scottish Enterprise that will help protect my brand in preparation for larger orders.”

Gillian Macdonald said: “Karina found herself in a situation that many others in Aberdeen will relate to. Having taken her time to look at different career paths she decided to launch a business that focuses on her passion – her three-year-old son.

"Using our advice, workshop programme, Information Service, and connections to Scottish Enterprise, she has turned her idea into a reality and is now working with us to protect her brand moving forward.”