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Meet the baby whisperer who is now a 'mumpreneur'

Meet the baby whisperer who is now a 'mumpreneur'

Donna Gray loves children and has forged an immutable bond with both her own kids and newborn babies she has photographed at her Small Prints studio in Alford.

Indeed, the mother-of-six - Dean, Euan, Kyle, Karen, Neil and Alan - spends her life immersed in the precious task of celebrating those who have just entered the world.

It's a far cry from the days back in 2010 when she decided to start an Open University course in creating and sharing better images.

Last weekend, Donna won a prestigious Mumpreneur honour in the Engage category, which recognised the unstinting care and professionalism she brings to her vocation.

She has also been included among the latest Aberdeen 40 under 40 list of up-and-coming individuals making waves in the north east.

And she has become so synonymous with snapshots of innocence that some people have christened her "the baby whisperer".

  (The innocence of babes as captured by Donna Gray (Small Prints))
via STV via STV

Donna takes this in her stride, as comfortably as she walked into the Heart of England Conference Centre in Birmingham and secured the Mumpreneur prize.

Yet, although she is genial company, she has clearly combined business acumen with an artistic streak while rising to prominence.

She told STV Aberdeen: "I never expected things to grow as quickly as they have done, but I thought it would be a good idea to launch Small Prints and that has been vindicated.

"I’m a little stunned really. I started the business on a shoestring, knowing I'd have to juggle being a wife and mother with building the business up, so it has been busy.

"It’s great to have my hard work recognised, not only by my clients, but by national organisations and to have so much recognition all at once is really amazing.

"The older of my children are now helping me in the studio behind the scenes, and customers from 2010 and 2011 are coming back, so it definitely feels like things are developing."

Donna admits she is a bit of a perfectionist; somebody who believes that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.

But then again, she is dealing with very special people.

"We usually deal with newborns within the first ten days of their lives and our first priority is ensuring the safety of these fragile little people," she said.

"It used to be the case that you had to go to a supermarket or a shopping mall to get a picture of your new baby and that wasn't always a memorable experience.

"But now, we are catering for the little ones, their mums and dads and sometimes their grandparents as well. Everybody is made to feel special.

"There was one occasion where a minibus pulled up and 11 people got out and that was a bit of a challenge, bt we managed it.

"We're even getting people in the United States coming over to see what we're doing and we've been featured in Vogue, so we must be running things on the right lines."

  (This is the guiding motto at the Small Prints business (Donna Gray))
via STV via STV

Donna doesn't dislike the "baby whisperer" tag, but she's not dashing to stick it on the window of her premises either.

She told us: "This simply started out with me wanting to take better pictures of my own children. But when I passed the course with 94%, I thought, 'maybe I could be good at this'."

"The thing is that I love being around children and babies and I've watched my own kids grow up and that has been a joy.

"But there is a more serious side to this. I think we've bucked the trend of the stereotypical 'big family' in Britain, where people with lots of children get a bad reputation.

"We often get accused of sitting around on our backsides and waiting for hand-outs. It just isn't true and I know that from my own experience.

"On the contrary, my kids are fiercely independent, they want to achieve things for themselves, and that drives me on as well.

  (There's no disturbing the rise and rise of Small Prints (Donna Gray))
via STV via STV

Donna has no shortage of commitments in the months ahead. After all, there are always new arrivals on the horizon in her world.

But she is also contemplating the idea of expanding her horizons, although not at the risk of diluting the quality of her work.

She said: "There's an organisation called Remember My Baby which I would like to get involved with in the future.

"And we already work with a charity called Count the Kicks which helps and provides support for mothers-to-be.

"But life is pretty busy at the moment. If you had told me five years ago that this would be happening, I wouldn't have believed it."

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