This week on my Mums in Business series I’m delighted to be featuring Merry from LoveKeepCreate; a business that was created by two friends, who have certainly mastered the art of setting up their own business whilst looking after young children, and also appearing on Dragon’s Den. LoveKeepCreate offer a fantastic USP to parents where baby keepsakes can be made from baby clothing. So instead of giving away those treasured baby clothes to the charity shop, LoveKeepCreate create keepsakes from them including teddy bears, blankets and quilts creating a treasured memory for parents.
If you’re looking for business inspiration, take a read of LoveKeepCreate business story, where Merry highlights that having a supportive partner is one of the most important elements of running a successful business.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background and LoveKeepCreate?
Rachel and I met when we were training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 2003. We became best friends during our tough year of training and although we both followed very different paths in the Forces, we always stayed in touch. Rachel left after a few years and retrained as a teacher while I stayed in a bit longer and then left and became involved in consultancy work. By 2013 we were both married to military men and had started families.
Rachel’s husband was away in Afghanistan while their first child was very tiny and she made a little quilt from baby grows, for him to take away for him to feel closer to their newborn. She posted a picture of it on her Facebook page, and friends and family went wild for it, everyone wanted her to make them one. Gradually it evolved to include animal designs and the business just kept on growing. Rachel could see the potential for the business but it was getting too big for her to manage alone so she asked me to come on board. Together we decided to launch it as a professional, properly branded company and LoveKeepCreate was born.
What were your drivers and motivations for setting up LoveKeepCreate?
We feel really passionately about waste and also about the dilemma that so many parents (including ourselves!) face over what to do with the precious baby clothes that one never quite has the heart to take to the charity shop. Transforming those items in to beautiful keepsake animals, quilts and cushions just seemed like such a perfect solution – thankfully our customers agree with us!.
How do you balance the business around family and childcare?
In the early days it was awful, when we couldn’t justify spending money on childcare. We both spent every evening working as soon as the kids were in bed and we perfected the art of the business-call-whilst-breastfee
The business seems to ebb and flow depending on what’s happening with regards to the time of year, new projects and what’s going on for us at home. That’s been the best thing about having a partnership; it doesn’t all have to be one long slog, we can take it in turns to support each other when we need to spend less time in the business. Four years ago we couldn’t have imagined that Rachel could take a full six months maternity leave and everything still function! Likewise I then had a couple of months out last year when my daughter was really ill. Without having each other Rachel and I just wouldn’t have that kind of flexibility.
Since setting up the business what’s been your biggest success to date?
That’s a really easy one – Dragons’ Den! Our episode aired in January 2017, although it had been filmed quite a while before that. We worked so hard in preparation for it and we were really confident in what we were offering, but you’d be mad not to worry that one of the Dragons might find some weird angle/problem you’d never even considered. Thankfully the pitch went better than we could have dreamt – three out of five Dragons made offers on exactly the terms we’d asked for, and even the two who didn’t were very complimentary. It was incredibly affirming that not only had we got the investment, but everyone was saying it was one of the best pitches they’d ever seen. When you work so hard for so long it’s sometimes difficult to sit back and say, ‘wow, look at what we’ve achieved’.
What’s your top tip for Mums who are thinking about setting up their own business?
Like building a house, everything is harder, more expensive and takes longer than you think! It’s one thing to have a lifestyle business that evolves slowly, but if you really want to grow a successful company in a short space of time you’ve got to be realistic that it isn’t something that’s going to happen if you’re still trying to care for children at home in the day. It’s completely doable but it isn’t easy. Plus you need to find the person who’s going to support you.
Business is incredibly tough and you need someone who’s got at least some emotional investment in the success of the business to share the highs and the lows with. It might be a husband, a friend, a relative or (ideally) a business partner, but it’s well worth finding someone who can share the highs and lows with you (not just your Instagram followers!).
You can find out more about LoveKeepCreate by visiting the website, or following their social channels:
Thank you so much Merry for taking part in my series, it was lovely to interview you, and I wish you the best of luck in the future.
If you would like to be part of my Mums in Business then just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in my series: what2buy4kids, Mission: Mindfulness, and Vista PR.