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/