Hi, I'm Samantha. I own Mama's Closet in Barnet.
The idea for Mama's Closet came about several years ago. I lost my job and then became homeless after becoming unwell with MS and a rare disease.
I was placed in a hostel with my children. We had very little money for clothes for my fast-growing children. There were other parents and pregnant ladies in the hostel in a similar situation. It was then I decided to test out the idea...
I started buying some maternity and children's clothes from the other residents for cash. I then washed, pressed, and displayed them on two clothes rails in our room. The other ladies would come and buy items for themselves and their children. They were happy they could have a whole outfit for their children including some shoes for just £5!
When I was housed, we brought more rails and moved the idea to a scout hall once a week to see if the idea would work on a slightly larger scale. It was a success! The only problem was the hall could only be used for a couple of hours once a week, and it was physically too difficult for me to keep lugging clothes and rails in and out of the hall.
I had very poor credit from being homelesss, so I couldn't get a business loan. I saved up every penny I could and then eventually managed to get a tiny shop! The shop opened in April 2017 and has been popular with local parents ever since.
We are a sustainable business. Since the shop opened, we have saved over 4 tonnes of clothes from landfill and have gone to new loving families!
Like many small businesses, having to keep closing during the pandemic has really had a huge impact on us financially.
We plan to use the money to create an e-commerce solution that can be updated real-time to allow us to sell items online.
We plan to use the rest to keep being able to buy items in and to help support the bills while the shop remains closed.
During lockdowns, we have run a free emergency essentials bank at our cost for people in the local area and continue to donate baby clothes to Barnet Hospital's Neonatal Unit.