Antonia writes; I met Catriona at an event for mums in business. Her enthusiasm and authenticity struck me the moment I heard her speak. I’m always drawn to women like Catriona. There’s no ‘sales pitch’, it’s just raw enthusiasm and passion for what she does. Cat hosts a variety of music classes for children in South London, particularly around Norwood and Crystal Palace. She has produced her own children’s CD of which 10% of the profits goes to JDRF, an amazing charity that funds research to cure, treat and prevent Type 1 Diabetes and gives support to people who live with it.
Here we talk about how she set up her business, what she’d write on a billboard for parents, why she loves what she does and how she tries to keep on top of work and parenting all at once.
A: Hi Catriona, let’s start at the beginning. What’s the name of your company and why did you choose that name?
C: My company is called Little Folk Nursery Rhymes Ltd. For years I didn’t have a name, I just said it was nursery rhymes sessions with Cat! But as people started taking me more seriously as a business, and I was working with great venues who wanted to call me something more official in their weekly schedules, I was advised I should have a proper business name. I’ve always dreamt of having my own record label so I set one up years ago called ‘little folk records’ as my own music I write is kind of folky and lucky for me this name lent itself very well to what I was doing with my business, namely playing to babies & pre-schoolers i.e. ‘little folk’! So, I just adapted that old name I had and shoved nursery rhymes on the end!
A: And do you have a family yourself?
C: I do – it’s exhausting but wonderful in equal measure! Met my husband at Uni, been together 26 years (I know! I am that old!) and we have two very energetic & football-mad boys, 11 & 8.
A: So, when did you start your business and why?
C: I started my business in 2011 when I was sort of coming out of the bedlam of having two babies fairly close together – I needed to earn some money! I’d been helping lead a gorgeous voluntary singing nursery rhymes group and a few of the lovely mums said I should do something like that as my own thing and that’s where the idea started!
A: You have a clear passion for what you do, what do you particularly love about your work?
C: I absolutely love singing and my strap line is ‘music & singing for everyone’ – I’ve always enjoyed being with babies and pre-schoolers and I will never tire of seeing how little ones react to music, it’s such a beautiful, natural thing, no-one has taught them how to react to it, it’s innate
…and some of them get so into it, their little bodies quiver with the sheer joy of it and that is the best thing ever!
A: What has been the biggest challenge with your business?
C: TIME! MONEY! Simply there is never enough time to get everything done when every job is down to you alone! I am so lucky and can bring in wonderful humans to help with the techy website side of things and the design elements and some product producing but everything else is down to me and I am never really on top of anything but almost 7 years later I am cracking on with it still and, somehow, I am sort of where I want to be with it all – it’s a bloody miracle!
The money thing is a drag, my husband said once that he has never known anyone work so hard for so little financial gain but as the years race by it’s been improving, this time next year, Rodney!
A: What’s been the biggest reward of what you do?
C: Running my own business! I never knew I would have my own business but it has been one of the best (and the hardest) things ever! I’d always worked really hard for other people’s companies and it is a bit of a thrill to do it for yourself and not answer to anyone else – apart from your customers! Also, being a little part of loads of families’ weekly fun.
Someone said to me the other day to think of how many little people I have sung to week-in-week-out over the last 7 years and it made me feel a bit emotional, it must be hundreds!
And the other reward I never foresaw was seeing how new mums formed a bond with each other at my groups, that has been very special to me as I remember how tough and isolating those first few months can feel sometimes.
A: What has your business taught you?
To never give up, to always push things as far as you can to be the best they can be with what you have available at the time, the more you put in the more you get out
…all terribly cliched I know! And to enjoy what you do, if you enjoy it, your enthusiasm will rub off on your customers. It has also taught me that I really don’t like admin & accounts, there is so bloody much!
If you could write one thing on a billboard for mothers what would it be?
GOOD ENOUGH IS GOOD ENOUGH!
It took me many years to get to that point but it was a relief when I got there!
A If you could do any job in the world what would it be?
C: Other than what I do of course! I have always wanted to be a singer-songwriter and earn my money by selling my music, that would be such a thrill that someone liked my music enough to buy it! I have always been such a dreamer like that but at the age of 48 I have almost finished my first album of my own music, so we shall see…..!
A: I had to ask, how do you juggle being a mum with running your business?
C: By dropping a lot of balls and trying not to be too hard on myself (although of course I am a lot of the time, we don’t help ourselves us mums sometimes)! Most of the main important things get done but a lot of ‘stuff’ for both my family and my business just fade away on well-intentioned ‘To Do’ lists that never quite get done and make you feel rubbish! I can’t remember where I read it, probably the supportive world of Instagram squares but someone said we should all have ‘Ta Da’ lists – to show what we actually do get done, which is usually a lot when you stand back and evaluate it, how often do you get to do that though? Rather than focusing on what we still haven’t done! Sounds much better to me.
A: Catriona Bateman, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you and sharing what you do with the world. Little Folk Nursery Rhymes classes are available in Sydenham, South Norwood and Crystal Palace. She is also available for private parties. Cat’s nursery rhyme CD is available via her online shop. Link here www.littlefolknurseryrhymes.com. ‘By buying this CD you are helping to donate 10% of the price to JDRF, an amazing charity that funds research to cure, treat and prevent Type 1 Diabetes and gives support to people who live with it’.
Cat also sells gorgeous hand made 5 little ducks finger puppet set. Link here
For a timetable of all classes please check here
To check out and stay in touch with Catriona and Little Folk Sing her social media links are
insta – @littlefolksing
facebook – littlefolknurseryrhymes
twitter – @littlefolksing