Catching up with beeniebuds&co

Belles in Business

Welcome to the next Belles in Business. This time we are focussing on kid’s fashion; it’s a massive growth area economically so it is great to get an insider’s view of the market. Look out for some top tips on running an online shop too!

 

BeenieBuds&CoTELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?

I’m Dee, a young thirty something, mama, wife, business owner of beeniebuds&co and not forgetting a passionate Graphic Designer.
We have two little beeniebuds aged 5 years and 8 months. Everyone that knows me would say I’m a busy body! Yes, that pretty much describes me. I love photography and every opportunity I get is a photo moment of the kids or everyday life.

WHEN DID YOU START beeniebuds&co? TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

It all started with a blog 4 years ago. I was expecting my first child and researching all the fab stuff I could purchase. I loved perusing the shops so much that I felt the need to share it with someone (other than my husband). I noticed the gift and clothing market for kids seemed limited. Everything was covered with cartoon characters and colours were pink or blue. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to start something new and fresh.

 WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND beeniebuds&co?

The blog was going so well that it was nominated for a few awards so we decided to open an online kids store. The name comes from my late Grandmother who used to call my baby brother (at the time) little beeniebud because he was so small. My husband and I thought it would be the perfect branding to help us standout from the rest of the children’s clothing market. We stock up-and-coming independent unisex clothing and toy brands.

Tootsa MacGinty Smile top

Yellow Smile Sweat Top , £26.00, Tootsa MacGinty

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM HAVING YOUR OWN ONLINE SHOP?

I love the creative freedom to do what I want. Having worked in fashion retail for a good part of my career, it feels great to be a buyer, graphic designer and shopkeeper all in one! Just being your own boss is fantastic and I recommend it to all mamas out there. Customer service is a key part of our business and having one-to-one interaction is refreshing. You’ll definitely learn that very quickly when starting a brand or business.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH BRANDS TO STOCK?

What I can say, it is really hard! There are so many lovely brands out there. We attend seasonal children’s trade shows in different countries. It’s the best way to get a look and feel of the products available. As well being a great way to meet the designer and get an insight into how they go about creating their collections. We often find new labels when browsing Instagram, it is a fantastic place to discover small independent children’s labels.

Beau loves - grey pants

Grey Print Pants, £32.00, Beau loves

 

HOW DO YOU BALANCE BUSINESS WITH MOTHERHOOD? ANY TOP TIPS?

One word that works for me is ROUTINE. I’m lost without it. It’s good for me and the family.

DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE?

Busy!
During the week it’s the school run. Mornings are spent checking emails with a well needed cup of coffee. The world of social media is important for our business so checking and answering any Twitter, Facebook and Instagram comments.

The afternoon’s are all about cuddles and playtime with our 8 month old. As well as design updates for the site and planning for the coming seasons.

In the evening the kids are in bed by 7:30pm and there’s some one-on-one time with hubby!

WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS?

We’ve come a long way since 2010, the response has been amazing. We plan to do more pop-up shops and collaborate with designers on making bespoke designs for beeniebuds&co. Most importantly we want to continue as we are, providing a great selection of quality clothes and toys and excellent customer service.

Tsumiki Building Block House , £83.99, gg*

Tsumiki Building Block House , £83.99, gg*

 

If you are looking for fun and fashionable kidswear and accessories, you need to check out BeenieBuds&Co. I love that it is such a stylish edit of the hippest independent brands and a perfect alternative to the humdrum of the high street. You can also keep up to date with new products, giveaways and more on Facebook, Twitter and my fave Pinterest!

 

An afternoon with Amba Hotels

 

Amba Hotel 2

I have grand ideas that I am Little Miss Crafty but when reality strikes I simply don’t have the time. Any ‘spare’ time I do have is swiftly allocated to either creating words and images for the blog, or working on building my empire ; ) Throw into the mix that I have the patience of a three year old child, I’m sure you are starting to get the picture that me and crafts do not traditionally mix. But that’s not to say I don’t have the desire, and that was why I was excited to attend the Amba Hotels Mothers Day Bath Bomb making workshop.

Accompanied by yummy food and drink and a group of lovely bloggers, we set about learning how to make a hard soap, a jelly soap and finally a bath bomb. We were taught by Naz of Midas Touch Crafts whose energy and enthusiasm helped to make the afternoon. As a lover of all things natural, it was interesting to learn how the products we use on a daily basis are formulated before getting to the task of making some for ourselves.

The surroundings weren’t too shabby either, the Amba Hotel is conveniently located next to Charing Cross Station. The hotel is housed in a beautiful building with a contemporary style and is a maze of rooms, restaurants, lounges and bars.

Amba Hotels 1

There are no photos of the bath bomb, it was an unmitigated disaster, what can I say, these hands aren’t made for creating bath bombs.

Big thanks to Amba Hotels for hosting the event and Joe Blogs for inviting me!

Launching my new business | BELLE.SOCIAL.STYLE


Creating a career to fit my life

In my New Year post I briefly mentioned that one of my goals for 2015 is to start my own business. I have been feverishly working away to put in the groundwork to achieve this and so I wanted to give you a little update as to where I currently am in the journey.

THE BACKGROUND

I have gone through a massive transformation over the last 12 months. This time last year I was on maternity leave and the effect of 8 months with no more than 4 consecutive hours of sleep was seriously taking its toll. Damn you sleep deprivation! At the same time I was also desperately trying to unlatch baby from my boobs so I could stop breast-feeding and the cherry on the top was that we had just moved house.

I still had five months of maternity leave to go and thoughts of returning to work hadn’t even crossed my mind. Until my boss called me and interrupted my flow by asking me what my plans were. This kickstarted me into action and some serious thinking about the life I wanted to lead now that the little person had made an appearance.

Thoughts of exploring freelancing had been a recurring theme for the longest time and now I had the motivation to try to make it work.

Fast forward to July and I returned to work on a part-time 4-day week basis. Ironically, weeks after returning to work and at the busiest time of my life ever. I navigated the transition into life as a working mama, whilst delving into the freelance world by managing to land myself not one but two clients. I know, I must be cray cray. But I am also thankful to the Universe for affording me that opportunity. It raised my confidence post maternity leave no end, and helped me to see that, actually, I can do this.

Life was stupidly busy for a few months whilst I juggled everything but eventually I got a more part-time role, so that I had the extra time to concentrate on my freelance clients and developing my business.

THE NEW BIZ

And this is it…BELLE.SOCIAL.STYLE – A social styling service for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs in the wedding, parenting and fashion sectors. Helping them to show off their brand’s personality and their social side.

I am super excited about this new venture. It has opened me up to a world of female entrepreneurship that I have fallen head over heels for, as well as allowing me to connect with some amazing and inspirational women.

I’ll be sharing some behind the scenes of starting my biz on Instagram and Pinterest for those that are interested. Sign up so I can let you know when I launch and please feel free to share with anyone who you think might benefit from my help.

Have any of you started a business or thinking about doing so? Comment below and let me know how it is going.  I am passionate about promoting small businesses. If you have a story to tell, I would love to share it – nicola@bellenoirloves.com

Learning to deal with toddler tears and tantrums

Dealing with toddler tantrums graphic

It really is hilarious the amount of the NYFW coverage that was focused on the front row tantrums of baby daughter of Kimye, North West. The old me, as in pre-baby, probably would have been pretty unsympathetic, with thoughts ranging from ‘Just control your child’ to ‘If I had a kid they would never do that’ going through my mind.

Fast forward however to the present day and I am eating my damn words. I am also finding myself with unexpected feelings of sympathy and solidarity towards Kim, mainly due to North and Mia-Rose being born a month apart. Admittedly, Kim handled it like a mama should and didn’t simply palm her off on the nanny so that she could continue to watch the show (which to be fair must have been a pretty tempting option), especially with the toddler tantrum taking place whilst seated next to Bey/Jay and Anna Wintour . When I watched the video and saw the pics, North’s face actually started mutate into Mia’s, seriously!

My bubba is now a toddler who is rapidly getting a handle of what she likes and dislikes, and what she does and doesn’t want to do. And so the inevitable temper tantrums have started. It isn’t until we are out in public that I really started to notice them, at home it is easy, “No Mia you can’t open the oven, it’s dangerous’ which is often followed by a stamp of the foot, a scream and general hysteria. It is responded to with either ignoring her and waiting for her to cool down, repeatedly explaining why ‘said’ activity isn’t such a good idea or the good old fall back and when in doubt – distract, distract, distract. But when it happens in public, well that is a whole other matter.

We experienced the first public tantrum in Westfield Shopping Centre a few weeks ago. She was that child. We had been in a kids clothes shop, she wanted to peruse the clothes. We did not and she was not happy. Like Imelda Marcos being dragged away from her shoe collection, nothing could pacify her, not rice cakes, not biscotti, not a banana or water or any of the other items in the changing bag which I desperately recovered to present to her. She wanted to be carried and then once in my arms she wanted to walk. It was meltdown city. And it felt as though the whole of Westfield was looking.

It was really bloody stressful but its early days and as time goes on, I’m sure I’ll get more used to them and she will hopefully stop having them, but alas that is a while away. I’m not sure if it will help when she starts talking, maybe she’ll feel less frustrated by being able to tell me the specific thing she wants and then at least I know exactly what the hell it is I am refusing.

Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers wrote a post on her fab blog Sisterhood and all that about tantrums which had me laughing into my gin and it was lovely to know that we all go through it.

Just one piece of advice to my new compatriot Kim K, maybe don’t take North to fashion shows. I don’t think she likes them ; )

Image via Daily Mail

Image via Daily Mail

Catching up with Clarkes Closet

Belles in business

I am excited to have new business owner and creative entrepreneur, Jodi-Ann of Clarkes Closet, gracing the blog for the first instalment of my business series, Belles in Business.

 

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?  

Jodi @ClarkesClosetI’m Jodi-Ann, 32, mother of two beautiful babies Hamilton 6, Clarke 8 months and partner to my best friend David. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and came to London when I was 5. I’m a South London girl and I love living in the city.

I’m a do it yourself kinda girl. I would rather go on YouTube, find a how-to video and learn a new skill, rather than have to pay someone to do something.

Dance is and always has been my first love, which I studied to degree level. Being creative runs through my veins and I have always re-visited it throughout my life in some shape or form. From the way I’ve styled my home to the positioning of my son’s toast in the mornings.

 

Clarkes Closet 4

WHEN DID YOU START CLARKES CLOSET?

I started Clarkes Closet in August of last year, just two months after I had my daughter Clarke.

Clarkes Closet is an accessories line of hand-made pretty little things for the princess in you (as I have a son I have now started bow ties also). My line consists of hand-made hair bows, headbands, flower crowns, tutus and I have now also started making rag dolls. I also do custom orders. I work from home and my dining room table is my studio.

Clarkes Closet 1

TELL US ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND CLARKES CLOSET?

My inspiration came from wanting to dress my baby girl in pretty hair bows and bands and not being able to find anything that I liked or was affordable. Every time I went out to shop for her I would get frustrated and was a little shocked at the lack of choice. I already had an image of what I wanted and that’s when my creative side came into play and I decided that anything that I wanted for her I would make myself. When other mums started to ask where I got all Clarkes pretty hair bows from, I thought about starting my own business and sharing some of my creativity with other mums looking for something unique for their little ones. I have started to make pieces for adults and also love doing custom orders.

Clarkes Closet 2

WHAT MADE YOU FINALLY TAKE THE LEAP AND START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

I was made redundant from my job whilst pregnant with Clarke and that made me decide it was time to be my own boss and do the best I could to make a better future for myself and my family. I also wanted to show my children how to love what you do, do what you love and to have faith in it too.

Clarkes Closet 3

I LOVE HEARING STORIES OF WOMEN BALANCING BUSINESS AND MOTHERHOOD. HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Deciding to become a mumpreneur hasn’t been an easy one, but it has given me the opportunity to be at home and spend more time with my kids. As I’m new to running my  own business its been trial and error, seeing what works better for myself and my family. Having a routine only works some times and my focus is more about making sure my children and household are happy rather than panicking that its 7.45pm and my son has only 15 mins to read a book, have a bath and get to bed for his 12 hours of sleep. It can be a juggling act sometimes.

I try to set limits and goals of where I need to be in my business and stick to them, otherwise I start to feel like I’m in a whirlwind about to come crashing down.

I try to prep from the night before so I know what I have to do the next day. At the moment while Clarke is young I usually work through naps, so while she’s asleep I work.

I often have light bulb moments at the most inconvenient times and am itching to try them then and there but have to remember to balance home and work.

I am learning to delegate more and remind myself that I can’t be everything to everyone even though in my mind I am a superhero!

LISTS!!! I make lots of them, they are how I get through everything but I have learned if something more important comes along like one of the children gets sick its OK. Like my mother always says “The best laid plans don’t always plan out”.

Another big one is time management and not getting side tracked by the pile of washing staring at me as I walk into the kitchen.

Clarkes Closet 5

WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF CLARKES CLOSET? 

Wow the future! My five year plan is to have a cosy little boutique that parents find inviting and exciting. For my online store to do well and to turn a profit big enough so I can continue to be at home with my children.

I am in the process of creating workshops so I can share my skills with young people through youth clubs and groups. I think art is a very important tool in opening up the minds of children and that’s something I’m very passionate about.

My partner is a photographer and I make all his clothing props and accessories and I would love to create and supply clothing and accessory props for photographers and studios.

Thanks so much Jodi-Ann, I can definitely identify with the challenges of juggling everything. And how cute is baby Clarke, a model in the making!

 

The SS15 Clarkes Closet collection has just launched, please go and take a look, the new prints are divine – I’ve already placed my orders ; ) You can also follow and support via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Clarkes Closet 6