Rebecca Cudby came up with the idea.
But if it hadn’t been for her friend and business partner she admits she would never have followed through on her plans to start applesauce, a children’s clothing and accessories company.
“I actually never thought about going into business on my own. I guess I get quite lonely and I don’t have the motivation there to do it myself,” she says.
Ms Cudby, 28, a Briton who has lived her whole life in Dubai except for a three-year period when she studied in the UK, devised the idea as a way to distract her friend, Amal Almoheiri, 29, an Emirati from Dubai, who was going through a difficult time.
Being the mother of a young boy and not subscribing to the traditional children’s fashion of blue for boys and pink for girls, Ms Cudby thought they could do something different.
That was back in October 2013, and by November they had started work.
Both had young children – Ms Cudby’s son was just over a year old and Ms Almoheiri’s children, a daughter and son, were four and two.
But starting a business with a fellow mum, not to mention friend, had its benefits.
“I know her. I’m not getting a new partner I don’t know,” says Ms Almoheiri. “We have different tastes and she is very easy to work with. She has a great sense of humour, which is amazing.”
But that is not to say that working with another mum is always easy.
If one is free to work and the other is busy looking after her children, then decisions have to be put on hold.
The entrepreneurs also both became pregnant several months apart last year, and each suffered morning sickness, making it hard to get anything done at times.
Ms Almoheiri has now given birth and Ms Cudby is due later this year, which means they are looking at a whole year where things will be slower.
But neither would have it any other way.
“I think that’s one of the benefits of having your own company. We are both motivated but we both knew what was important,” says Ms Cudby.
“Spending time with our family and children was something we always wanted to do, hence we didn’t have a full-time job. And having our own company and both having children made that possible.”
Bringing different opinions and talents is essential to a business partner, says Ramesh Jagannathan, New York University Abu Dhabi’s inaugural vice provost for entrepreneurship.
In fact, two is the minimum number of people needed to develop a business idea successfully, he says.
“There are a number of things that go into creating an innovation and a product. First is the ideation step, which requires someone to bounce the idea off. It’s called brainstorming. You can’t do this by yourself. The most efficient way of developing the idea is at least two [people],” adds Mr Jagannathan. “Two is minimum, three is ideal.”
Finding a way to spend more time with her family while still earning was what drove Jumana Darwish, a Jordanian mother to a young daughter, to set up her own business. And she also chose to go into business with a fellow mum and friend.
“I have a beautiful family, a beautiful daughter, an amazing husband, a great family network, a great job, everything, but I knew there was something missing,” says Jumana, 33.
“I was talking to my sister-in- law, Linda [Darwish], and she was in the same boat at a different stage of her life. She had two adult children who had just left home.”
Together they came up with the idea for The Happy Box, a company they started last May which provides monthly customised activity boxes for children aged two to 11 to encourage families to spend more time with each other.
While the duo won’t release turnover figures, they say they have hundreds of subscribers and 15 global franchise requests.
And starting the company with her American sister-in-law brought a lot of benefits, says Jumana.
She adds that they complement each other’s strengths – Linda, 52, is an educationalist by profession, while Jumana is more involved in the creative side.
And Linda’s experience of motherhood was also invaluable.
“If I am having a low day or a meltdown just like any other mother, she has been there,” adds Jumana. “She has done that. And she is quite understanding. I think it’s so important to partner with someone who is understanding and accommodating.”
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