Friday, November 16, 2012

Mia Happy: with my Mia Tui Bag for Snumpreneurs


Smumpreneur:

Alternative forms: Snompreneur (North American)

Etymology: Blend of  special needs mum and entrepreneur

Noun: smumpreneur (plural smumpreneurs)

  1. (informal) A mother of a special needs child or children, who works as a business entrepreneur in addition to (and often inspired by) family commitments

As you might have read on this blog, about 3 years ago I created and launched something called The Grace App, which is a picture communication system I created with, and for, my daughter Grace, who has autism and severely delayed speech. I did it with a really talented App developing wizard called Steve Troughton-Smith, who you may also have read about here.

And totally without planning it, I went from staying at home for the last ten years as a special needs mum to having my own product, my own business and the chance to get out of the house once in a while and get paid to talk. (my husband pays me not to talk)


My Snumpreneur Toolkit
To do this I need props,  a lot of props, all of which I used to carry around in the cheap Ikea briefcase that you can see above.

I am an obsessive perfectionist. If something is not right, it niggles at me (like an annoyingly large picture exchange book) and I continually seek a better solution. I tried using large handbags and a backpack style computer bag; but without compartments it was always a bit of mess trying to find things when I was setting up to present.

At the end of a workshop or keynote, I often find people want to approach me to ask questions, so I find myself packing up while answering questions and it is really easy to leave things behind. Precious things that will make me look like a gobshite if I don't have them for my next demo. 

Oh, and I travel a lot. In the last 12 months I've presented in London, Orlando Fl, San Diego Ca, London, Kent, Essex and Manchester UK, Valencia Spain, Ennis and Letterkenny. 

Common sense and baggage restrictions mean that that I've had to streamline my kit into as few bags as possible, often combining overnight, personal and work things.

You don't get older without getting a bit smarter, so this is what I now travel with, by road or plane:


a) is my zip up soft bag with my stretchy but elegant plane clothes that also serve as jammies and something to wear down to breakfast, or out to get a latte before your shower.

b) clear plastic airline regulation sized toiletries bag.

c) My jiffies! I usually wear my heaviest shoes, which if I am working, have heels. Once boarded you can slip on a pair of jiffies over your socks or tights and be comfortable while flying, without having to walk in other people's wee when you use the toilet.

d) is my presenter kit. The iPod Touch, cables, toys, sweeties & chocolates, VGA adaptor, speakers, spare chargers and business cards.

e) is my presenter folder: a printed copy of the Guide to Grace App with some photographs of Gracie using the App and my business credentials. Basically something for people to flick through while they are waiting to ask me a question. (the other e is the pouch I put the jiffies in. I seemed to be having a dyslexic day when I made this pic)

f) gorilla grip locline modular hose presenter stand. These are actually for holding iPads on to wheel chairs but useful for presenting without being hidden behind a podium. Get your own at www.modularhose,com  

(The other f is my hairbrush).

g) make up bag and my iPad (duh) in its lovely pink camo chatbag. Get yours at www.chatbag.net


It is important to have all this stuff on hand, but also to keep it organised. As you don't want to hand the director of the local authority autism services a lipstick and a couple of tampons, while you are searching for your sync' cable. (it has happened) 

I was on a bag search, one that reminded me of my obsession with the ideal Baby bag all those years* ago. So it was very serendipitous to chance upon this site, while reading one of those daily twitter mags:

miatui.com Click on image to embiggen.

As Charlotte, the CEO and creator of Mia Tui bags says:

"Your Mia Tui is the kind of functional and stylish bag you've spent years searching for. Finally, a way to carry your things - your laptop, workout clothes, kids toys, baby gear - that suits your lifestyle and sense of fashion" 

I Want Want Wanted one.  I nagged, tweeted, facebooked and co-opted everyone I knew to nag with me, until Charlotte got the message and offered to let me review a bag. She then carefully went over all my needs via Twitter.
I originally wanted the Grace bag it being my company name and is the only one made in leather (I am a bit thingie about synthetics) however it is a bit small for my needs, so I was delighted to take Charlotte's advice and choose Amelie.  (which is actually Gracie's middle name) in PINK of course!

The Mia Tui site is absolutely gorgeous by the way. All entrepreneurs, moms or otherwise could take a tip from her web design. Easy to navigate with great visuals and lots of short youtube clips of Charlotte herself explaining how each bag works. It is like Form and function porn for the obsessive compulsive. I could learn a lot from her.




The "Amelie" in Plum. It is a big bag and if you are under 5' 4" you should also consider the Mini Amelie.

 The bag arrived and all my hesitations about 'Faux' leathers evaporated like the moisture which will not penetrate the "hide" of this gorgeous bag. It feels like leather, looks like leather, but unlike my most favourite thrifted designer leather bags, it will not get soaked as you run from Tube to bus in the London rain, leaving you with a wet hankerchief and a dye stain on your Ralph Lauren trench.

All the bags are waterproof inside and out and come in a range of fabrics and colours. So don't be a leather snob like me and choose by colour. They also have all these lovely sections where I can put all my bits and pieces and easily access them.

If I am going to the airport, rather than doing the "dance of the flying crap" as I approach security, like this:


From theoatmeal.com




 I can coolly approach it with my bag on my arm (with shoes popped neatly inside) regulation clear toiletries bag ON MY WRIST and iPad swinging and ready to be xrayed.



Hands free to tweet while I queue at the 2012 version of Dante's inferno which is airport security.

The handsfree regulation toiletries bag. I was genuinely thinking of sewing a strap on to my existing bag before I found this!








The pockets where you calmly slip said toiletries when you're finished being frisked and x-rayed. No need to faff about. 



These pockets are waterproof, so if there was a leak from say,  your husband not putting the lid on a shampoo or zipping the bag up, the leak would stay in the pocket.

There is a complimentary "clutch" purse with every bag in the range. This is handy for bringing your wallet, your passport and room key with you if you just want to pop out for coffee, leaving the bag in your hotel.





It is also useful for keeping your private things private, and separate from your work stuff.
Make-ups, spare charger cable, head-ache tablets and ladies things, all discreetly stored.


The clutch comes with a wrist strap, which reminds me of my ex-Uncle Ted and his not very acceptable ManBag which he carried around Sydney in the 1970's and 80's.
Uncle Ted also wore his pants just below his nipples and drank wine in rural Australian pubs.
He was neat, thin, and organised.....Not that there is anything wrong with that.




Charlotte, Goddess of social media that she is, very recently surveyed her Facebook community to ask if they would prefer a shoulder strap. Uncle Ted was outvoted and all future complimentary clutches will now have a strap you can wear on the shoulder or across your chest.

As we say on Facebook: Like.



This is the bag with all my stuff inside it. There is even a compartment for my Tupperware drinking cup that my little sister the Tupperware lady gave me, twice. (I lost the first one while TRAVELLING)

Finally, the very serious matter of travelling with Ryan air. You may have the most gorgeous, functional handbag in the world but if you want to take it AND your carry on suitcase on board, you will either have to:
A) eat it, 
B) Sequest it about your person in a cunningly designed Leprechaun Hat or 
C) fit it into one side of your Ryan air approved Samsonite carry on:



ok, a shitty photo taken while kids jumping on bed but you get the picture. It fits.


and no sitting on it to get the zipper done up. Zips perfectly.
all ready to roll past the Ryanair check-in nazi and make your way up the stairs!




When you get on board and the hosties are busy selling scratch cards you can quietly remove the Amelie and shove it under the seat in front of you; making it easy to access your books, iPad or wallet during the flight. 

I really think I have found the perfect bag - a search of a lifetime to be honest. And it is not just about the glamourous Ryanair Airbus jetting lifestyle of a Snumpreneur. 

For me and so many of my friends, the standard "Baby Bag" has to follow us through many years of extra care. Adult sized nappies, wipes, special medications and feeding paraphernalia may be part of the tool kit of a special needs mum for life. 

With Mia Tui they have the option of being practical, organised AND gorgeous while being the best Mum possible to their special kids.

Mums (and fashion conscious Dads like Uncle Ted) please click on the link and treat yourself to a Mia Tui bag. They are well made, beautiful and hard working - just like us. Just because we carry a lot of 'baggage' around, doesn't mean we have to look like it. So do it; Because you're Worth it!

STOP PRESS! There is a discount code on the Mia Tui Facebook page to use until Christmas. Visit and Like the page to get it before ordering.

12 comments:

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Love your quest and it reminds me of my one to find the best big girl "baby bag" where you can separate wet stuff, dry stuff and dirty stuff....your bag looks gorgeous by the way x

lisadom Grace App said...

@Candi: Mia makes every bag with nappies in mind and the Amelie is plenty big. http://miatui.com/pages/mums

Jan Dolan said...

The Mia Tui bags are fab...I currently have 4. The Sophia plum and the Minnie Amelie Aubergine are on my Christmas list. The bags are so versatile and swapping things between bags is so easy with the pouches. I wish I had found these sooner - oh wait I found them not long after they were launched and have never used another bag!!!

Hammie aka lisadom said...

Just checked Facebook and there is a discount for Christmas. quote MT2012 on Check out for 10% off.

@Jan, I had about 10 different baby bags for my two. I was a bit addicted to be honest but I had 8 years of nappies between the two of them so I got to try quite a few. If Mia Tui had been around I would have just had one.
xx

Petunia said...

Was torn between the Grace bag for everyday use or the Minnie Amelie but went for the Grace in the end. I can still see me going back and ordering the Amelie too as it really was neck and neck what one to buy. This review couldn't have come at a better time as I was effing and blinding in Tesco yesterday trying to get my keys out from under the DS, the dj style headphones that Munchkin will only use these days, my purse and twenty thousand receipts and various other items crammed into the bottom of my sac bag including plasters, make up,dog whistle and the approved small bottle of Tropicana Orange (smooth without bits naturally) that Charlie will drink while we are out. I don't have room for my ipad haha. Think I may have found "the bag" though with Mia Tui. If only I was rich I'd get them in all available colours :)

Katy said...

gonna have a look now i nees long strap to wear over me when i have Jake the Assitance Dog as over the shoulder falls off.I have a nice causal one but most of them have i love on direction or just beiber on them and i so dont!

Katy said...

ok its the grace for me i want them all

lisadom Grace App said...

@Katy: Be sure to send me a picture of You and jake with your bag. I'd say Charlotte would love to see another category of bag use, "assistance Dog Owners"

Hammie aka lisadom said...

@Petunia - I feel your pain. I love my big "it bags" but our lives do not allow for fustering around to find things while children escape. I think you will love the waterbottle compartment, the idea of Tropicana in my handbag makes me feel a bit ick!
xx

jazzygal said...

Love, love love it.... want, want, want it!!

A Mia Tui organiser bag for THE most disorganised person in the world? A no brainer!

It may very well transform my life....

xx Jazzy

grufalomum said...

oh i likey likey likey - I want one of each :)
even like the ryanair approved samsonite !!!!! ..... might have to order one of them too.

Momx3 said...

Love these bags. Wonder who I could talk into buying me one for crimbo, lol