Qualified foundation phase teacher Jessica Reeves has always had a passion for working with babies and small children.
An opportunity came up when she was on maternity leave to work with babies and new moms through the Baby Builders business.
“By the time my son was three years old, we were blessed with another baby boy,” Reeves said.
“I took six months off to be at home with my children and discover the new season of been a mom of two.
“It was at this point in 2014 that the opportunity arose to buy Baby Builders and run the business as my own.
“The programme was put together in conjunction with the St George’s Hospital antenatal unit and Donnah Rosser to include baby massage and a baby developmental programme which moms could attend for eight weeks postnatal.
“This later evolved into baby stimulation and developmental classes when Lauren Staples came on board and further developed the programme with the help of occupational therapists to run a programme up to 12 months old.”
How old is your business?
It is 16 years old.
What is your core service?
The whole initiative behind Baby Builders was to create a space for new moms to come together, bond with their babies and build a community of women that would support one another through the early phases of postnatal care.
How did you navigate your business during the pandemic?
Baby Builders has always been a face-to-face business where social interaction is part of the core purpose for both moms and babies.
Though “in studio” classes could no longer take place, we took to the Zoom platform and carried on meeting for our classes online.
This was a short-term solution that later evolved to a shift in the online class option and opened up a new platform of pre-recorded classes, where moms could login any time, anywhere, and have access to the lessons they wish to participate in with their babies.
Our online classes are still available for families who prefer to limit social interaction for health reasons. It has been a huge success.
What makes your business unique?
In the seven years I have been running Baby Builders in Gqeberha, I have made it my own by bringing my talents and creativity into my classes, and applying my skills and experiences as both a mom and an educator.
I love creating a space where moms feel safe and welcome, and babies can be stimulated and develop to the best of their ability.
If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
I believe the most important skill is to have a passion for working with children, as well as patience and empathy. They will need a good knowledge of early childhood development; the understanding of how each baby is unique and develop in their own way.
They will need to understand the stages of infant development, as well as sensory and motor development, to guide moms through the first year of their baby’s life.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?
It’s important always to be willing to learn more, put yourself out there and keep trying your best.
Move with the times and shift of change, but still remember the core purpose of what your business stands for.
Most of all, work your hardest every day and the rest will follow in your efforts.
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
My biggest challenges are running a business and been a mom, trying to find the balance between the two, and knowing when it is family time and work has to wait until tomorrow.
I like to be available to my clients at any point of the day, especially for moms who need direction or support, but that is what is great about the community that is formed, as I find we all lean on each other.
What was the best advice anyone gave you on success?
To be committed and realistic. Work with what you’ve got and aim to pursue success.
Staying focused and keep going — the end goal can always be achieved.
Along the way you may make mistakes, but you learn from the journey and can only come back stronger in doing so.
How do you measure and define success in your business?
I find such joy in seeing the development over the first year of a baby’s life and being able to teach these little people.
It is also in seeing the relationships formed through my classes and how these friendships grow over the years to follow.
Baby Builders creates the most incredible community of strong women and friendships. For me, personally, meeting new moms and babies every term and leaning about each family is unique as I form a very special relationship with each and every one.
What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
I offer a space where moms and babies can come and learn, bond, make friends, but, most important, feel safe and grow with the support of other moms and health professionals.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Fortunately, Baby Builders is a well-established business that is well known among moms and health professionals in Gqeberha.
A lot of my moms are referred to Baby Builders via word of mouth. However, I do rely on social media as a source of awareness as well.
What is your business’s vision?
My vision is to create an environment where families with babies can enjoy the many aspects of infant development, and not only attend stimulation and massage classes, but also offer a variety of other activities and services related to infant care.
What is your target market?
Our target market is not only moms and babies, but families.
The saying ‘’it takes a village” rings true, as a lot of moms go back to work when their baby is four months old, but still want their baby to benefit from attending Baby Builders classes.
Grannies, dads, aunties and caregivers, all are welcome.
What have some of your highlights been in running your business?
The relationships formed between health professionals who support and encourage the purpose of such classes, and the shared vision of supporting moms and babies, working together as a team and the importance of such services.
There are many incredible people whom I have had the privilege of getting to know, and who continue to guide and support me on my professional journey.
How important is social media and an online presence for your business?
I believe it is very important to have a social media and online presence for any business these days.
This is the way we search for information and acquire the relevant knowledge needed to make our decisions on the services we are inquiring about.
However, no material used for advertising or general information is posted without the permission of a client.
Do you have any plans for expanding the business and how would you go about this?
Along with my company’s vision, my goal is to expand to additional services that offer families a variety of infant-related services and grow into an umbrella for these services.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?
I’ve learnt that the more you put in, the more you get out, and a whole lot of myself goes into my business on a daily basis.
It’s made me protective, proud and motivated, which helps me stay focused on my long-term goals.
What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running a business in a city like Gqeberha?
It is easy to be noticed and word spreads quickly. In saying that, you always need to be on top of your game; keeping your standards high and offering a service that meets the needs of your clients.
Be open to feedback and improving when necessary.
What in your view are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
Motivation, a deep passion for what you are doing and been adaptable.
What do you wish people knew about your industry?
Baby Builders is more than just stimulation classes offered on a weekly basis, though these are highly beneficial to your baby.
It is about relationships that are formed, creating lifelong friendships and a bond between individuals who have embarked on a new season of life together.
It is about supporting each another and finding people with common ground who will become a crucial part of parenthood with you.