Article By Becky Nowell, Maisie Lou Designs
Am I brave?
Am I crazy?
Have I finally lost the plot?!
All questions I asked myself before starting this business and all questions I ask myself every single day since!
I set up Maisie Lou Designs after years as working as a Senior Crown Prosecutor with the CPS in Central Manchester, leaving behind the drama of the courtroom and trials was a daunting experience but a decision that wasn’t taken lightly.
Maisie Lou Designs creates a wide range of quality personalised embroidered clothing, bags and gifts primarily aimed at newborns and younger children although as time has moved on we have expanded to include wedding and hen party lines as well as commercial branding and workwear.
It just started off as a bit of hobby when I wanted to create my two girls, who are three and five, something special that was made with just them in mind. That is probably my first bit of advice. I am and will always be a Mummy to my little girls. This journey began with them in mind. It was always designed to let me work hard and long hours but around school and nursery runs and never at the expense of spending time with the girls. Don’t think for a minute that this is an easy balance to strike – especially when you throw the husband into the bargain!!! Being disciplined is key and was such an important lesson to learn in the early days.
Children love having things with their name on and my two girls are no exception. I had seen a lot of personalised items around in the shops but they all tended to have the same names on them. My eldest daughter is called Charlotte and it was relatively easy to find products with her name on but the youngest is called Harriet and it was rare to find something for her – even rarer to find anything with the shortened versions of their names which are Lottie and Hattie!
When my friends saw the items that I’d made for my girls, swimming bags, rag dolls, snuggly blankets, they all started putting in requests for their children or as gifts for their friends. Then when my oldest friend had her son I realised that I could make a number of gifts for him that were personalised, not only with his name, but his date of birth and weight, which made a really lovely keepsake for the parents as well as something practical for the child.
It grew from there and in November 2012, I started creating increasing numbers of bespoke items for friends and family. At first, there was always the challenge of confidence. Sure, I can stand in a court and prosecute burglars but when you are making something yourself, it doesn’t matter how much family and close friends tell you they love your products, there is nothing like the acid test of the general public. In mid December 2012, I took a leap of faith and became a stall holder at the local village Christmas Craft Fair. That event, coupled with the Christmas Fair at my eldest’s Primary School, gave me the experience and confidence to really go for it!
Having confidence in yourself is something that I have had to work very hard to develop. I was not the most “commercial” of people but at the end of the day I have made the conscious decision to look at every piece I create from the perspective of the customer. I ask the same questions of every product I offer for sale. Is it the best it can be and would I be delighted with the quality? If the answer to both of these is yes then I can delight customers and they are sure to return. The lesson of referral was learnt very early in the business from the organic way in which Maisie Lou Designs has grown.
With the help of my family; my husband helps by looking after the girls of a weekend, my sister-in-law helps with the accounts and her husband has created and built the Maisie Lou Designs website, I am able to spend more time with my family and am nearer to that much sought after goal of a great work /life balance. Maisie Lou has enabled me to spend more time with my family whilst at the same time, work on something I truly love and cherish.
The range is developing all the time. Our personalised rag dolls are very popular for birthdays, flower girls christenings and more. With the summer upon us, our most popular lines are the holiday items like these stunning personalised children’s back packs, ideal for the plane or ferry and the waterproof personalised swimming kit bags.
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