Friday, 17 May 2013
2Inspire Business Profile: From Babies with Love
2Inspire Network meets the wonderfully inspiring mumpreneur Cecilia Crossley, founder of From Babies with Love. Read her superb interview and find out how she is growing her business into one that does more than makes profit...it makes a difference too!
Please tell us what a typical business day is for you
I’m not great in the morning without a cup of Earl Grey tea to kickstart the day! But aside from this little ritual, no day running from babies with love is the same. My husband and I help get our son ready for his day, then I go to my favourite coffee shop to begin work. I normally have meetings around London or via skype – I’m really enjoying meeting like-minded business people, with whom I discuss opportunities to collaborate. At the end of each day I pick and pack all our orders; we include complimentary gift cards with each delivery – so a lovely task is hand writing the loving messages people write when purchasing baby clothes.
What made you start the business and how did you get started?
When I had my son, watching children’s charities’ adverts and reading articles about the hardship children face all around the world made me more determined than ever to do something. I thought to myself: if I could buy a beautiful baby grow and know the profit helps a baby in need, why would I buy anywhere else? The answer is I wouldn’t!
So I set up from babies with love selling beautiful organic baby clothes at www.frombabieswithlove.org. But instead of profits going to shareholders, 100% of its profit goes to orphaned and abandoned children.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
Establishing a business whose mission is to support vulnerable children has been incredibly rewarding. After just one year we’re already donating our profits to support six babies, across Africa, in India and Brazil. Our profit supports them to live, be loved and cared for, in dedicated children’s villages run by our partner charity SOS Children.
One of the babies we support is little Mariama, who was a newborn baby when her mother sadly passed away and whose family was not in a position to look after her. She was born in The Gambia – one of the poorest countries in the world. But her life changed when she was taken in by an SOS Children’s Village. Like all SOS children, within her village Mariama has a new, permanent home, where she will grow up safely, loved by her SOS mother, brothers and sisters, and will go to school.
from babies with love has set a precedent in the baby clothes market, it stands out from the crowd as an accredited Social Enterprise. The UK is home to 68,000 social enterprises - business that, akin to charities, exist to make a positive difference. But unlike their cousins in the charitable sector, social enterprises earn their income by selling goods and services, competing in the open market with private sector businesses.
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
The Social Enterprise sector is exploding, outstripping ordinary small-medium size enterprises for growth. But most people haven’t heard of the term, so a key challenge has been targeting our marketing in a way that captures our customers’ imagination and explains why we are different. We often receive incredibly rewarding feedback from our customers – so I think we’re on the right path!
What are your future plans for the business?
We’ve had a brilliant first year and I’ve learned a lot. The next phase is to grow the business, to sell more baby clothes and to help more orphaned and abandoned babies. To achieve this we’re taking steps to get our message out to an even wider audience. Our aim is for from babies with love to help hundreds of babies get better opportunities in life and for many thousands of people to enjoy giving or receiving beautiful organic baby clothes.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
When I was researching my business plan I read a few books about online marketing (ironic that I read books rather than online blogs!!), recruited an e-commerce expert on to my board and took some basic steps to take in to account SEO best practice. They’ve been invaluable and I’ve learned a huge amount. However, a year on, I know there is still so much to learn. My challenge is to find an SEO company to work with in a way that’s affordable to my business. Looking back I wish I’d thought of this, and set up a supplier relationship, from the start.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Because, unfortunately, we live in an unequal society. Thankfully there are more and more female role models for us to aspire to and learn from, but we must keep evolving attitudes that enable equal opportunities for all.
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
The baby clothes market is very crowded, so having a unique selling point is really important. But a great plus is that barriers to entry aren’t too high, so once you have a clearly defined angle to make you stand out from the crowd, getting started is easier than in many other industries.
What or who inspires you in business and why?
Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop. Her creation of a successful business that works to address human rights and environmental issues is an inspiration. The Body Shop was one of the first companies to bring ethical consumption to the mainstream, having a huge impact on corporate social responsibility and social enterprise as we know it today.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
A quote by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
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