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Colsterworth mum battles post-natal depression to launch business

A mum-of-two,who launched a business to help her cope with post-natal depression (PND) made it through to the semi finals in the UK’s biggest business pitching competition.

After launching her own online parent and baby shop, Hannah Clarke, 31, of Colsterworth, entered the Virgin Voom competition, where business owners compete for a chance to pitch their business to Sir Richard Branson.

After reaching the semi-finals, Hannah was invited to pitch her business aPPLE & Pips to a panel of judges in Manchester last month, including the founder of Crowdfunder.

Hannah reached the semi-finals of Voom Pitch. (2452255)
Hannah reached the semi-finals of Voom Pitch. (2452255)

Despite not being chosen as one of the three business owners to pitch to Richard Branson, Hannah is proud to have got so far.

She said: “I finished 19th overall out of hundreds of other businesses. The feedback from the judges and the finance, marketing, and leadership experts who grilled all the semi finalists after their pitches, was incredibly supportive and I’ve taken so much away from the experience.”

And the experience meant all the more to Hannah, who only six months ago was still suffering with panic attacks after being diagnosed with PND following the birth of her children Toby, now three, and Martha, now two. It was that battle that inspired the launch of her business and gave her the confidence to enter the competition.

Hannah said: “It was only six months ago that I was still suffering with panic attacks, having been diagnosed with PND and anxiety in 2016. I would never have believed that I was capable of achieving anything like this.”

Hannah, who spent nearly a decade working in special needs education until the birth of her first baby in 2014, launched Apple & Pips in 2016, selling bespoke gift sets and hampers for babies and parents.

She added: “Motherhood didn’t come easily. Toby had silent reflux which meant up to 10 hours of screaming a day. My husband Phil and I wanted a small age gap and Martha came along 21 months later.

Hannah Clarke with husband Phil and their children Toby, three, and Martha, two. (2452253)
Hannah Clarke with husband Phil and their children Toby, three, and Martha, two. (2452253)

“I was diagnosed with PND and anxiety in the summer of 2016 and have continued to battle it to this day.

“I am happy though, incredibly so. But through the darkness of my PND I decided to launch an online shop which would bring together many of the gorgeous independent UK baby and parent brands that I already loved so much, while donating a percentage of the profits to charity.”

Alongside her online business, Hannah also launched a random acts of kindness scheme to support local parents in and around Grantham.

She started handing out supportive notes and vouchers but it was a chance encounter with a couple and their toddler in the middle of Sainsbury’s car park, that encouraged Hannah to launch the initiative nationwide.

Hannah said: “The couple both looked exhausted. I handed them a note, which simply said, ‘You’re alright’ and the mum just threw her arms around me and said that I didn’t know how much it meant. It turns out that their newborn daughter was very poorly in Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.

“We both ended up crying in the middle of the carpark. I’ll never forget them.”

Meeting the couple encouraged Hannah to launch ‘The random acts of kindness scheme’ nationwide with the help of her volunteer Kindness Tribe.

She also launched a range of bespoke gift hampers as well as gift boxes and care sets for IVF, mental health/self care, breastfeeding. with £1 from the sale of each of these items goes to a relevant charity in the UK.

Apples&Pips sells bespoke gift sets and hmapers (2452265)
Apples&Pips sells bespoke gift sets and hmapers (2452265)

As well as being a semi finalist in Virgin Voom 2018, Apples & Pips has also recently been announced as a finalist in the Lincolnshire Technology and Innovation awards for Online Retailer of the Year, and for the Spirit award in the inaugural MPower Mums in Business awards.

Despite being a busy mum-of-two and a successful business owner, Hannah is still looking ahead to the future.

She added: “My long-term business plan includes providing paid on-the-job training for parents to learn new digital skills in social media and content management, to give their CV a boost for returning to work or taking a change in their careers.”

For more information, visit: www.applesandpips.co.uk

l Were you the couple that Hannah met in Sainsbury’s? E-mail tracey.davies@granthamjournal.co.uk and the Journal will put you back in touch with Hannah.


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