An interview with Kate from Happy Little Doers

An interview with Kate from Happy Little Doers

Kate from Happy Little Doers has a really inspiring story to share. She recently launched Numbers - high contrast flashcards helping kids to learn to count all the way to 110 as well as do simple sums. These 'learn by doing' flash cards have been designed to ensure your kids reach their full potential. 

Not only has Kate created the most beautifully designed educational products for kids, but she conceived and launched the entire business in lockdown! She has such a positive attitude and it really shows how if you have the right idea combined with the right drive, you can make anything happen. She kindly answered some questions about her business journey so far - covering everything from how the idea was born, to how she collaborated with her husband Ollie (and 2 kids) to make Happy Little Doers a true family business. 

Can you tell me a little bit about you and your brand?

I would love to! Hello, I’m Kate, a mum of two, to Billy who turns 3 in September and Lara who is just over 1 year old.  Happy Little Doers was created during lockdown where I started out sharing play ideas on Instagram.  I’ve always seen myself as ‘doer’ and not one to sit still, so I was trying to entertain myself as much as I needed to entertain Billy and Lara.  Billy and I would often sit and practice counting.  I would write down the numbers and dots on a separate piece of paper for him to match up.  However, the scraps of paper I’d written on soon became bent and torn.  When I noticed there wasn’t anything on the market that went higher than 10 or 20, with words as well as numbers, corresponding dots and mathematical symbols, that’s when I decided to launch our first product.  Luckily for me, my husband is a designer and web developer, so we worked together to get the first product to market.  We want all our products to encourage and optimise learning whilst having fun. 

What did you do before Happy Little Doers? And how do you think your career so far has helped with this new venture?

I studied Advertising & Marketing at University (which now seems a lifetime ago).  I worked for several fashion retailers in London; M&S and T.M.Lewin being the main ones and Advertising Agencies prior to that.  I managed both on and offline marketing, international product catalogues and sourced models for photo shoots, and lots of spreadsheets thrown in for good measure.  With some incredible budgets, I had the time of my life.  I learnt so much and met some amazing people and contacts along the way.  I definitely think my experience has been really valuable, but I do believe, if you have an idea and believe in it then you really can figure the rest out.  Marketing is constantly evolving. Today, effective marketing is all about creating high quality content and sharing this across the web, with social media being key.  As long as you have motivation and drive then you’re good to go in my opinion. 

 

What's the story behind your brand name? 

The brand name Happy Little Doers came about because I really wanted to incorporate the word ‘Happy’ - just the word makes me smile.  ‘Little’ because our main target is little people and ‘Doers’ because I wanted to encourage people to do more; the more you put in the more you get out. ‘Doing’ will always trump ‘telling’ whether you’re three, five or ten!

Why did you decide to start your own business? 

I’ve always known that I wanted to start my own business and do something around my children, when the idea came to me I was go, go, go.  I get so excited when Billy and Lara say or do something new, I love teaching them new things.  We have so many ranges we would like to develop, which I know our kids and others will love.

How long have you been working on Happy Little Doers - from the idea sparking to launch? 

Do you know what… I actually received a really nice message on Instagram recently saying that she had read our story on our site and she was amazed that I’d started a business in lockdown from concept to sales in months.  Until then I hadn’t stopped to look back, but yes, from the idea to launch was around two months.

What have you loved about your business journey so far? 

This is a great question, there are so many things!  I’ve loved seeing videos and pictures of children playing with our cards, having fun and learning which is what it’s all about.  The amazing feedback has also been lovely.  I’ve loved having an idea and running with it.  It’s also been amazing to get our cards into the most amazing online shops!  Knowing that other people with a great eye for sourcing have invested in us and our product.  I’ve also loved seeing Billy develop from when we first started playing with the cards up until now.

What have been the biggest challenges? 

Definitely signing ‘expenses off’ with my husband, he has a real business brain and nothing gets passed him!

Do you have any business partners / collaborators or is this a solo venture? 

My husband Ollie is my business partner.   I would also say Billy (and soon Lara) everything gets tested and signed off on them, at the concept stage, through to production to make sure they love it!

I love the design and look & feel of your products. Can you share a little about the product development process?

We love to make products to help with a busy family lifestyle, and our motto is KISS - ‘keep it simple silly!’. We don’t like to over complicate ideas or designs, but we love our products to be exceptionally well designed, clean, and unfussy with a real purpose and with longevity in mind.
With our number flashcards, we designed these simply in black and white for high contrast with no distractions.  The font is child-friendly with legibility in mind.  The rounded edges making them safe and perfect for little hands.  Each card has a matt laminated finish so they can be wiped clean and used over and over.

We’re always striving for the best future for our kids, which is why everything is considered. Even the server for our website is powered by renewable energy, generated from hydroelectric and wind sources.  All of our products are created as eco-friendly as possible and responsible.  All of our paper products are FSC.  The inks are eco-friendly and entirely plant-based and from renewable sources.

How have you found juggling parenthood and launching a business over the past few months?

It’s been tough, I’m not going to lie; lots of late nights working, and working through their naps.  Billy has pretty much dropped his lunchtime nap, so it’s a little more challenging now.  I just aim to work smarter now.  Both Billy and Lara are now back at nursery two days a week so that time really helps me focus. 

Advice for those thinking about starting their own business?

Yes. You can do it!  Whatever it might be, get a nice notebook and start jotting those ideas down.  I carry mine with me everywhere, I even take it to bed (how sad is that!), but honestly you never know when you might get an idea. Plus putting it in the same notebook means, they are all in one place.  Make small steps every day.  Whether it’s registering your business name, setting up an Instagram account, creating a logo or writing a mission statement.  Believe you can do it and you will, try your idea out as much as you can and get feedback, from friends and family, it’s invaluable.  Not everyone is going to like it but use their “no’s” as fire in your belly to make you succeed even more.  Remember to start your day with positive thoughts and work hard, have fun with it and be nice to people along the way.

Check out Happy Little Doers: 

https://happylittledoers.com/
https://www.instagram.com/happylittledoers/
https://www.facebook.com/Happy-Little-Doers-120158073088445

 

July 29, 2020 — Kirsten Hartley
An interview with Tanisha from Baiou

An interview with Tanisha from Baiou

Tanisha launched Baiou in July 2020 and is making waves in the kids swimwear world. She also manages to juggle parenthood, a 9-5 and a the launch of a new business! Tanisha kindly answered some questions about her business journey so far. I can't wait to see what lies ahead for Baiou. 

Baiou snap and go

Please tell me a little bit about your brand?

Baiou is a premium kid-centric swimwear brand with built-in snap button closures at the crotch for girls aged 6 months to 5 years. Our swimwear makes nappy changing & toilet trips hassle-free & easier for both parent & child. All Baiou swimwear is made using earth-friendly fabrics made from recycled ocean waste. Our fabrics are sun-safe. Blocking out 98% of UV radiation & meet the highest protection standards of UPF50+

 

 What is the story behind the name Baiou?

The name Baiou came to mind like a baby’s name naturally comes to a mother. I wanted something that had some relation to beaches & water but nothing basic like aqua etc. Bai is derived from Bay, which partially means ‘body of water’, and refers to the source of all inspiration, Thailand and all the beautiful bays they have there, coupled with the fact that girls named Bay are told to be of a strong mind, a little bold and born leaders. It was a no brainer. I didn’t just want bay and as I continued looking at girl’s name, I came across Baiou and knew that was the one. As crazy as it sounds it just felt natural, pure & eco-friendly.

 

What work did you do before Baiou/ or what do you currently do?

I currently still have a 9-5. I work in corporate, as a Bid Co-ordinator for a facilities management company. Without getting technical I manage the bidding process from start to finish, supporting in writing and designing proposals to win contracts. For example, some of our biggest contracts who we provide cleaning services for include Arsenal stadium, British Library & Pure Gym.  

Do you have a background in fashion?

I don’t have a fashion background; however, I have worked in retail as a sales assistant. Some of those include French connection & Hobbs in Selfridges and my personal favourite, my first ever Job working in Iceland. I really enjoyed packing food away in the chilled section. I was the fastest at it & use to challenge myself to be even faster.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

For two reasons. One being Inspired by motherhood. Being a first-time mother and going out in public would scare me it still does but I have got better at it. The days were getting hotter and my daughter and I were constantly visiting pools and splash parks. I would try and put her swimsuit on when we arrived & change her in-between but it was a total nightmare she would scream & wriggle around so much. I would feel so embarrassed & would allow her to go into the pool in her vest. I thought there must be an easier way. After seeing that swimsuits with snaps were not accessible, I went on a mission to do it myself.

The second reason was the not so flexible working system in the UK, I felt like all my life I had gone through the education system to build a career & thrive. However, I became a mother and all my career ambitions went on hold with many limitations and mothers normally having to take the back seat, I decided to create my own opportunities and aim to help other women along the way.

What have you loved about your business journey?

It's hard for me to say what I loved as it has constantly been go go go. What I Would say is I love the feeling it has given me. I feel empowered & strong and like I’m contributing to society in a more personal way. I love that I am investing in myself & really finding out about my strengths and weaknesses. I love that I have inspired many women to follow the dreams and been given the opportunity to meet so much people, both entrepreneurs and other parents/women.

What have been the biggest challenges?

Out of everything I found packaging the hardest as there are so much limitations when dealing with small quantity orders and then it having to be eco-friendly. You can have so many designs in your head or think you will have full branding however there may be design space limitations or you may only be able to use one colour etc.
The next biggest challenge was getting the snap element of the swimsuit right, but I think that was challenging due to my lack of experience. Luckily it is all sorted now.

Advice for those thinking about starting their own business?

  • Just start. Start where you are, with what you have got. I strongly believe there is power in starting, the rest will follow.

  • Get your mindset ready fuel your mind with anything that keeps you focused and push you closer to where you need to be. Listen to podcasts, read books & network.

  • Don’t be scared to invest in yourself. Invest in a course, mentorship, business programs mentorship groups, use the resources around you to help you elevate.

Check out Baiou: 

https://www.baiouswim.com/
https://www.instagram.com/baiouswim/
https://www.facebook.com/baiouswim

Tanisha from Baiou

    July 18, 2020 — Kirsten Hartley
    An interview with Hannah from West Stanton

    An interview with Hannah from West Stanton

    Hannah from West Stanton has created the ultimate shopping destination for parents, offering the most unique items for little ones - from the softest sustainable unisex clothing to beautifully curated gift boxes for new mums and babies.

    She kindly answered some questions about how her business came to be, her approach to choosing what to stock and some valuable advice for those thinking of starting their own business.

    West Stanton New Mum Baby Gift Set

    Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and West Stanton? 

    Of course! So I’m Hannah, mum of two little boys, Jasper (4) and Reuben (1). I launched the business when I was on maternity leave with Jasper, just because I wanted to buy him nice things at trade price. My friends then wanted the bits I had, so the shop naturally evolved. It was very much a side project for the first couple of years but has now fully taken over my life!

    Clothing collection

    What did you do before West Stanton? And do you have a background in retail?

    So prior to launching the shop I was Head of Press and Marketing at a luxury handbag company. I used to work in Retail when I was younger so I suppose throughout my career I’ve been very aware of commerciality, margins and marketing. It has come in handy that’s for sure!

     

    West Stanton Playtime Collection

    What is the story behind the name West Stanton?

    I get asked this a lot and I wish there was a sexy or cool story behind. But when I first started out we were living in a tiny flat with no storage so my stock was split between my parents house and my in-laws - so I took a bit of each of their addresses and combined! I thought it sounded cool and that was that!

    Why did you decide to start your own business? 

    It really was just because at the time I was stocking brands that weren’t that easy to find. Brands like CamCam Copenhagen, Tell Kiddo, Wee Gallery and Maileg were not as super popular as they are now. There wasn’t as much choice for ‘cool’ children’s bits so I went for it!
    West Stanton Bikes

    West Stanton Bike & Trike collection

    What have you loved about your business journey? 

    I’ve loved watching it grow organically. For the first couple of years I was still working full time, so it was only when I went part time I started to put some effort in.

     

    What have been the biggest challenges? 

    The biggest challenge for me is definitely the financial side of things! I’ve definitely learnt what I’m good at and what I’m not, and keeping on top of finances is not my thing that’s for sure! I’m used to working with budgets and profit/loss sheets, but when it’s just me doing it, I rely far too much on remembering things and no paper trial.

     

    How do you decide what products to stock in your store?

    It’s a combination of things. First it’s if I think the kids will like it. My kids, my niece, my friends kids - if I know they will like something, then I know other children will. Then I trust my instincts a lot - if I love it, chances are my customers will too! I’ve started getting butterflies when I see something amazing and I know when that happens I need to order bigger (like the matte black sunglasses!).

    Your West Stanton kids clothes brand is gorgeous - do you do all the design yourself?

    I wish! But art is not my thing. I wish it was. I can visualise what I want but that’s where it ends. For the first collection I traced some clothing outlines (how old school) and sketched out some ideas then my very talented friend Jess whipped them up for me on her iPad. She offered to draw the first animal print design for me and it was so spot on. She is SO talented and totally gets my taste. I would partner with her if she’d let me, but she’d doing her own thing. 

    West Stanton Animal T-Shirt

    Clothing Collection

    Any top tips for those out there thinking about starting their own business? 

    Don’t rush! You will waste your time and money if you rush into things wanting to be an instagram sensation. Take time on getting your SEO right, product descriptions etc as that will put you on the front foot. Skipping over these things don’t help the business and you end up spending more time and money fixing mistakes later on. Write a list of everything you want to get in place before launching, have a strategy and stick to it! 

    Check out West Stanton: 

    hello@weststantonstore.com
    www.weststantonstore.com
    www.instagram.com/west_stanton
    www.facebook.com/weststantonofficial

    Hannah West Stanton
    July 14, 2020 — Kirsten Hartley
    The story behind Leosun

    The story behind Leosun

    A brief introduction to who I am and how Leosun was born.
    June 28, 2020 — Kirsten Hartley