Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day, and to get your week off to a great start here is the next post in our spring interview series.
This interview is with Stephanie from the Little Letter Company, a lovely example of how children can inspire a business!
Tell us a little bit about you and your business.
My name is Stephanie and I founded The Little Letter Company three years ago when my two sons were aged 4 and 2. My eldest used to love seeing the postman come along our driveway, but was then disappointed not to find any letters addressed to him. So I found myself pretending that any colourful adverts/pizza menus were for him! Around the same time, he enjoyed a popular art/craft show on television, and would often ask to make the items shown in the show. I found myself dragging two small children around town looking for green pipecleaners and googly eyes to make a one eyed alien. The one eyed alien cost me £8 and I had to buy a pack of 200 eyes for my one eyed alien, which were then thrown in the ever-growing ‘craft box’. I realised that lots of parents must be in a similar position, so I launched Little Letters, where I design/source a craft each week and send the child the ‘ingredients’ they need to make the craft without any waste or trips into town. Plus of course, the children love receiving thier own post. I post the letters out in brightly coloured envelopes with their name clearly on the front so they can see it is for them!
What were the main challenges or most important things to learn when you first started?
The business took off much quicker than anticipated – I was soon overloaded with work and more orders than I could deal with! In hindsight I would tell myself to plan for the best as well as the worst. I had planned the stock and crafts quite carefully so that I didn’t end up with a trillion googly eyes if the idea wasn’t popular. I didn’t plan quite so well for it taking off so well though!
Once you had started how long did it take for you to feel that it was an established business?
Around three months in I bought a map of the UK to stick dots on marking where our customers resided. I remember that feeling like quite a key point, seeing how far and wide our letters were being posted after just a few weeks. I broke even at eight months, which of course, was a key achievement!
What are the best things about running your own business?
The best thing about running my own business is that I can work it around my family. I am able to fulfil my role as a stay-at-home-mum, and work in the evenings once the children are asleep. My youngest started school this year, and I had really been looking forward to being able to ditch ‘late night Thursday’ when I stay up verrrrryyy late to get all of the packs ready to post the next day. Somehow though, three years of late night Thursday has been harder to get out of my system than I thought, and I often do other things with my daytime and still stay up on a Thursday night!
What are the worst?
Accounts – ARGGHHHHHH!
Is there anything you wished you’d known before you started?
I wish I had possessed greater PR skills – I still wish for that now!
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement so far?
Just a few weeks after launch I was a finalist for a national ‘Mumpreneur’ new business competition. The year after I was a winner in another small business competition. They were the only two competitions I have entered, and it meant a lot to me to do well, as for me it validated the concept of Little Letters being a good idea that people would be interested in.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I can’t remember! Running your own business, whatever size or sector you are in, can be quite consuming. I would love to say that I have a brilliant work/life/family balance, but there is certainly a lot of work/family and not much of a ‘life’ right now – but I don’t mind so much. It’s all good fun.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about starting up their own business?
Just go for it – the sooner you start, the sooner you will find out whether your ideas will sink or swim. I would advsie against perfecting an idea before taking the plunge. You can often find that customers are so-so about your core products/offerings, but blown away by something smaller that you only threw in as a sideline! The sooner you start the quicker you get to know your market and what the customers want, and the sooner you can steer your ship in that direction. Finally – don’t listen to naysayers – believe in your ideas and don’t be swayed!
Where can we find out more about Little Letter Company?
Our website www.littlelettercompany.co.uk has details of all of our packages, and you can order on-line. Our products make great gifts for class birthdays etc, as you don’t need to trudge around toy shops, wrap the present etc, and best of all you don’t need to worry about whether the child already has it! Facebook gives our customers a great feel for our products as there are lots of photos of our products and customers! https://www.facebook.com/littlelettercompany
Little Letters is a fab gift for Grandparents to give – they often frown at the idea of plastic toys, but like the idea of a traditional gift that reminds the child of their grandparents each time the letter arrives!
Click to see more Interviews on morethanmummies.com
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