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Single mum set up eBay business while pregnant now makes Sh130 million a year

Readers Lounge By Mirror
Monika started her business nine years ago when her daughter (above) was three (Photo: Monika Milcarz Clark)

A mum who launched her own clothing line on the back of her own struggles during pregnancy has revealed she's now making about Sh130 million (£1 million) a year.

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Monika Milcarz Clark, 42, launched Happy Mama in 2010 from her spare room in West London, while bringing up her daughter, Maria, 3.

As a single mum, she admits she was looking for a new career direction, with her restaurant struggling financially and rent and bills mounting up.

So she began selling maternity and nursing wear, and it all took off. Two years later Monika said her home started to 'look like a warehouse'. At that point, she knew it was time to expand.

In her first year selling, Happy Mama turned a profit of Sh5 million (£40,000) on eBay, which more than doubled the following year.

Now, 16 years on, and with Maria recently celebrating her 13th birthday, the company is turning over Sh130 million through eBay alone - and she's got no plans to stop any time soon.

"Being a mum-to-be and a new mum is such an exciting time in a woman’s life," Monika told Mirror Money.

"I was disappointed when I was pregnant that I was unable to find clothes that reflected how good I felt. I wanted to sell a product that made mums feel as beautiful as they were comfortable during this time."

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Monika said during her pregnancy she struggled to find clothes that were both flattering and comfortable.

She identified a gap in the market for mums-to-be and new mums wanting trendy and comfortable clothes.

She said: "It all started in 2010, I was 31 then, a single mum, struggling with my restaurant business and with the recession I was on the verge of losing my house - so I was looking for other ways to make money.

"I started selling cheap jewellery and accessories, but soon after I found suppliers of ladies clothing in Poland (where I originally come from), and I started importing it to UK and selling through eBay.

"It proved to be a very good idea and the business started growing very quickly, my sales were literally doubling every day. I decided to leave the restaurant behind to focus on selling clothing."

She designs her own maternity and nursing clothes which she sells primarily on eBay (Photo: Monika Milcarz Clark)

Monika said once sales began to take off, she started working with suppliers in Poland directly, designing her own clothes and creating her own lines.

"I started designing my own dresses and tops and the suppliers in Poland would make it for me," she said.

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"Our selling unique point is on breastfeeding clothing. We put a huge focus on our clothing being both comfortable and feminine, and on a budget price."

She said once she found her specialisation, things really started to take off.

"As soon as we launched on eBay and started selling ladies clothing, the business took off like a bullet. I remember I sold Sh13, 000 (£100) worth of products on the first day, the second day it was Sh26, 000 (£200), third day Sh39, 000 (£300) and so on, it was growing very quickly and within a short period of time our sales went to about Sh260, 000 (£2,000) a day just through eBay.

"It got to the point that I needed help. It was a lot of work. My mum started helping me - and then my sister. We all work collaboratively now.

"In early 2013, Barbara, my right hand and now company manager, joined the business. Now I employ 15 women, seven at the warehouse and eight in our office.

"Most of my employees have been long term, some of my women have been working with us for the last 5-7 years, I treat all of my colleagues with a lot of respect, they are like my family.

"We have a very big database of loyal clients. Our clients are either expectant mums or those who are having their second or third child.

"Now I design all our new clothes myself, I am also responsible for preparing samples of new items, testing them, changing, trying, and then I order production.

Now, with her partner, Clifford Clark, Monika plans to take her business global. She's launched her own online shop and even has her first Happy Mama ITVbe advert planned for Christmas 2019.

"We had plans to open a little local boutique, but then we decided that the best approach to modern selling is online - so that's where our focus is.  

"Now together with my husband we are opening another company but this time in Poland happymama.pl and I will be running both companies by the end of this year."

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