Emma Smith and her twin sister, Louise Mullen, left their previous employment when they both started their families. Returning to work posed several challenges for ex-primary teacher Emma and her solicitor sister – so they took the challenge head on and created a successful business to fit flexibly around their own children.

Emma tells us more about their business, their philosophy and their award.

Tell us a little more about Little Acorns Childcare

I originally opened Little Acorns in my home as a childminding business in 2016. I left my job as a teacher when I had my daughter and Louise left her job as a solicitor when she had hers. We both trained as childminders and worked together from my home. When we achieved an outstanding Ofsted rating in 2018, we decided to take the leap, make our dreams a reality and open a nursery.

In January 2019 we moved into some rooms above a soft play in Whitley Bay and by May 2019 we had expanded so much that we took over the original business space downstairs and incorporated the existing soft play area into our nursery. We grew from a staff of four to our existing team of ten employees.

The business fits around our commitments to our girls – we started the business to be flexible around them and we’re so proud of what we’ve achieved as a result. We strive to maintain the family feel we’ve become known for. Louise and I are there every day and have created a strong arts, mindfulness and well being focus for the children we care for. We’ve built an incredible community and love connecting all the children and their parents to continue the bonds outside of Little Acorns.

How did you come to apply for the Best New Business Award?

One of our colleagues from the Whitley Bay Chamber of Commerce suggested we apply for the awards and sent us the link to the application. We had recently won North Tyneside Business Factory’s Business of the Month, so we felt confident to apply. It was a good call and we’re so pleased we put ourselves forward.

What does winning the Award mean to your business?

We were over the moon to win. This year has been amazing, but it’s also been very tough and tiring at times. Winning the award has shown us that all the hard work is worth it, and that people believe in our vision too.

What are your plans for the business?

We’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing as it seems to be popular with our little people and their families. But beyond that, we still have some space to grow in our current premises on Whitley Road. We’d love to open another small nursery at some point in the future.

What’s the best thing about running a business in North Tyneside?

We love how supportive the business community is in North Tyneside. We have developed some amazing links and friendships through owning a business in North Tyneside, where everyone seems to look out for each other and recommend other people’s businesses to their own networks.

Find out more about Little Acorns Childcare at www.littleacornschildcare.net

To register your interest for the 2020 North Tyneside Business Awards, please visit https://northtynesidebusinessawards.co.uk/register-interest/

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