Monday, 26 February 2018

One Little Bear

          Last year at a local event I had the pleasure of meeting Louisa, from One Little Bear and seeing some of her very early creations.  They caught my eye then and have continued to do so.  So I was very pleased when she agreed to be interviewed for our small business spotlight.  Louisa's interview also highlights the importance of flexible working for families and the tough decision that many of us make about our careers.
What was your inspiration when starting your business?

As the end of my maternity leave approached I was faced with a tough decision. I loved my job, but it was full on. If I were to return, it would have to be full time, late nights, and a long commute. I couldn’t cope just seeing my girl at weekends. My husband and I took a long hard look at our finances, we decided we could just about get by if I were to stay home full time.

This is when I decided to start my little business. Yes - hopefully it would generate a little extra disposable income to help us out but it was also something I wanted to do for me. To give me another focus other than ‘full time mum’, to keep my brain ticking over until I do eventually return to my career, to learn new skills and to have something to fill the otherwise huge CV gap.  Any stay at home parent will know what a challenging role it is but it is not necessarily clear to future employers.

The specific product offer was chosen after finding a lack of non-conventional, bright and playful nursery décor whilst decorating my own child’s nursery. I wanted my child’s room full of colour. I definitely didn’t want to conform to baby pinks and blues! While searching for a baby mobile all I could find were quite boring basic designs or ridiculously expensive handmade mobiles. I wasn’t prepared to pay £100+ for a mobile.

This was my first item I made. My mobiles are from £38 including free UK Shipping 






Bear and Mobile - £50 

What do you believe makes your business unique?

These days it is so easy to start your own business. There are millions of people in the UK running a small business, which is brilliant, and I love supporting fellow small business owners. The growth of social media means being seen is so much easier than 20 years ago, where you’d be relying on local events or a directory. However, this does of course mean a lot more competition. So being ‘unique’ isn’t always easy. I aim to differentiate myself by offering the highest standard of customer service. It’s the little touches, a hand written note with your order, readiness to answer any question you may have promptly, more than happy to discuss any custom order request. I have quite a few repeat customers, some who have returned 3 or 4 times. Considering I have been selling less than a year I must be doing something right.

In terms of product there is definitely a trend for goods using Liberty of London print. Personally, I have been a fan since I was a little girl flouncing around in my grandmas scarfs! What makes my product offer unique is I am using my own designs. There are a lot of people selling products in Liberty prints either following a basic pattern or embellishing existing products. I think my combination of original designs with the Liberty prints offer something new and exciting.


New line- Frame - £8.50

Describe a typical day?

I get woken up rather appropriately to the screams of ‘MUUUUUMMM, MUUUUUUMMMM, MUUUUMMMMMYYYYYYY’. Standard parent wakeup call! We go down and have breakfast, and get dressed for the day. Sounds simple enough…yet somehow usually ends in at least two tantrums! Whether it’s the wrong cup, no longer liking her favourite breakfast or complete unwillingness to get dressed! We have groups and activities we go to most days. I like to head out the house before 10am whatever we are doing. My child very literally starts climbing the walls otherwise. Some days she may nap after our morning activity which gives me 30 minutes to either do work or chores. Then its lunch time followed by a walk, visit to the park, coffee shop, library, shop. Basically anything that gets us out the house again. We are usually home between 4pm- 5pm which is cartoons time whilst I make dinner. Dinner at 6pm when Daddy gets home, then a little chill out together before bed. Bedtime then takes a good 90 minutes to 2 hours! Then a quick tidy up of the downstairs before finally sitting down around 9pm. Then it’s time to start work until either I am pretty much falling asleep or the little one wakes!

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

The best thing about running my own business is getting to spend every day with my daughter. It is hard work juggling everything at times; I worry that at some points in the day I am distracted by work and she is not getting my full attention. I hope to grow my business gradually as my family grows. Right now I can fit my work into evenings and weekends, hopefully as business progresses I will have more work and more time to work whilst my daughter is at Pre-School and then School. I hope that my business will be successful enough that it will warrant continuing full time in the future. I would love to be able to `work my own hours so that I can take my kids to school and pick them up and never worry about missing a school play or sports day. My mum worked for herself and was always there for any school events, I felt very lucky as a child to have that and I would really love to have the same for my children.
                                      
What do you love about our local area?

I am in Tilehurst, just up the road from Pangbourne. I love being in walking distance from so many places. We have several parks near us, our favourite is Arthur Newbery. We absolutely love the Library, and we are always at Mad Hatters pottery painting café. There are so many amazing places in the surrounding areas too. We are National Trust members and adore places like Basildon Park and Greys Court; we are also season ticket holders at Beale Park. The Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre, Wellington Country Park, Bucklebury Farm and Dinton Pastures are also among our favourites. My daughter loves to be out and about; we both get pretty bored stuck inside and we are never short of places to go.  I run a walking group for parents, we go for a walk somewhere different every Wednesday, and there are so many lovely places to go walking. Anyone is welcome to join us, for more details check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wellyWalk/



Basically there is a lot to love about our local area.

What is your background and where are you from?

I am originally from Caversham, in Reading. I studied Retail Management at Bournemouth University and moved to Milton Keynes when I graduated where I moved in with my partner. I worked as a Merchandiser for almost 10 years before leaving to have a baby. I worked with Outdoor brands, first for Blacks and Millets then for Surfdome which is an online store. I moved back to Reading 4 years ago. Milton Keynes is an interesting place but I do prefer Reading.

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