I recently did an interview for one of our lovely stockist's Chirpy, an independent boutique in Leeds. Here it is:
This month we’re focusing on another local maker, Rachel of Seb and Roo, a teething jewellery brand which is already proving popular in Chirpy.
Here’s a little interview we did with Rachel.
CH: Tell me a little bit about yourself
Rachel: I’m Rachel, the owner of Seb and Roo, a independent children’s brand, specialising in baby goods. I’m a mum of two boys, Sebastian and Rupert (hence the name!), and live with my Kiwi husband in Yorkshire. I run the business around flexi-schooling the boys, and when I have time, I love to play tennis as an escape from our busy lives.
CH: How did the business start?
Rachel : Prior to having children, I led a very different life, working in marketing for global companies and living in London and more recently Sydney. We settled in Yorkshire when I was pregnant to be closer to family, and it soon became apparent that our priorities had shifted drastically. I wanted a job that could fit around family, not the other way around, and I had always wanted to run my own business.
When Seb was born, I came across teething necklaces. I loved the concept and functionality of them but not the styles, so when my youngest was born I decided to design my own. And so in 2016 Seb & Roo was born. We’ve since grown our product range into baby toys, gifts and accessories, but teething jewellery and baby teethers continue to be our best selling items.
CH: What does a ‘normal’ day look like?
Rachel: After the rush of the school run, I’ll come home and work through my emails and customer messages (with coffee in hand of course) and reply to anything urgent, before printing off the days’ orders and getting started on making them. I might have to put in some orders with suppliers or make up a large wholesale order, and if I get chance I like to play around with and sketch new design ideas and scour the internet for new product ranges.
As a one woman business, I look after everything - from design, supplier management, finance, fulfilment and shipping, marketing etc as well as the physical making of some of the products, so each day can be quite different depending on what takes priority that day. I’ll have the days’ orders ready to ship by mid afternoon and then go and pick up the kids from school. I love being able to do this but it does mean that I will often work in the evenings and weekends to catch up.
CH: What’s been your biggest achievement to date? (feel free to mention something work related and / or personal)
Rachel: It has to be having my two boys and parenting them in the most mindful way I can. It’s definitely my most important job! Professionally, it’s a toss up between getting my first sale on Etsy (I now have multiple Etsy Bestsellers!) and launching my website a couple of years later.
CH: What’s been the favourite thing you’ve designed?
Rachel: I’m really proud of the Panda teether that I designed. It started with a hand drawing, then a 3D drawing, then a mould and finally a physical product in a beautiful custom box that I also designed. It’s a real favourite with younger babies, as the black and white is visually stimulating, and I love that it started our as a rough sketch on a scrap of paper!
CH: What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Rachel: I love the flexibility of running my own business around my family and also being wholly responsible for its successes and failures. The reward is far greater when you’re working for yourself.
CH: What advice would you give to anyone looking to set up their own business?
Rachel: Have a really clear idea of your brand and your customers. Try to come up with a unique selling proposition, which is hard in saturated markets, but really think about what you can do different and better than your competitors. One of the biggest pitfalls I think for hobby makers trying to grow is that they underprice their products / services, which means their business won’t be sustainable in the long run.
CH: Is there an activity you haven’t tried but would like to?
Rachel: I really fancy learning calligraphy. It looks so beautiful and is a real art form, so it’s definitely on my to do list!
CH: Why should people shop local?
Rachel: Oh gosh, there’s so many reasons! If we don’t support our local businesses, we will lose them, and with it a piece of our community. When you shop local, you’re making a great choice for the environment, as well as making a real difference to the individuals and families that own them - you’re supporting real people’s livelihoods, not multinational corporations. You can also find some great quality and unusual items that you might not find elsewhere as well as fabulous, personal service
Thanks Rachel for letting us get to know you!