How I Started a
Unisex Children’s Clothing Brand
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name’s Louise Morton and I created Beeboobuzz, a children’s clothing brand specialising in bright, unisex organic basics that are made in the UK.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea for Beeboobuzz through my frustration with overly gendered children’s clothing on the high street. While shopping with my, then pregnant, sister-in-law in 2012, we went into a popular parenting store and both commented on the sea of pink and blue and the division in children’s clothing. I made an off-hand comment that someone should create a brand of unisex bright basics for kids and she said it was a great idea!
Not having a clue about the textile or fashion industries, I sat on the idea for a number of years, unsure where to start or if it was something I really wanted to do. Then in 2015, my son was born and I faced the same issue again. I wanted to be able to dress him in a range of bright colours, but it was very difficult to find anything other than blue, green, brown or grey. I was desperate to find a bright orange vest for him, to go underneath dark denim dungarees!
So I started my research. Looking at how I would source fabric, choose colours, find a manufacturer, understand the cost model and how I would sell. And finally, in 2017, Beeboobuzz launched!
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
The biggest challenge for me has been the technical aspect of creating the clothing itself and finding the right people to work with at the beginning, especially as I was only looking to produce small quantities initially.
I now work with all UK-based people, including my fabric supplier, pattern designer and manufacturer. Having everything in the UK makes it easier to work with people and ensure the quality and ethics are high enough for us.
On an on-going basis, there are always challenges in running a business, from understanding finance and making sure you are keeping on top of the administration, to learning all about the secrets behind social media algorithms. Ultimately, you have to be an expert in so many areas.
Who is your target market?
The target market for my unisex children’s clothes is conscious consumers. Parents with babies and young children who are likely to consider the impact of gender stereotypes on their children and who are looking for something different. They may also be looking for ethical companies, those who use organic products and manufacture in a sustainable way.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
Our main marketing channel is social media. Focused content and word of mouth recommendations have provided us with steady organic growth of our online audience. High levels of customer satisfaction and positive online reviews have helped us build a dedicated tribe of fans and avoid the need for any significant ad spend.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
We focus on maintaining high-quality standards and impeccable customer service. I understand the importance of brand and reputation, so any issues with quality or size and customers have been offered a refund or an exchange with no quibble. Occasionally things do go wrong but handled well, this can be a bonding experience with a customer and ensure they come back to you again.
We also actively engage with our customers online, sharing tags, pictures, encouraging user-generated content through competitions and we have an annual summer party where people can meet in person.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
At the moment, my company is just me. But as we grow, my intention is to have a workforce that reflects our target audience and our customer base. Having struggled with balancing corporate life and parenting myself, I’m keen to offer flexible working options to people who appreciate what working for a small company means, and the opportunity to be part of something exciting.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
Our main piece of software is Shopify, which we use to run our website. All other applications are used to make life easier and offer integration, for example, we also use MailChimp for our customer newsletter, and Later and Tailwind to help manage social media accounts, and Google Analytics to help monitor performance.
Everything is designed to be as digital and automated as possible, to reduce the administrative burden and allow me to focus on customer service and product development.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
I have learnt huge amounts since starting my business, and if I was starting all over again there are definitely things I would do differently. However, I’m not sure I’d class those as mistakes; they were part of the journey and provided opportunities for me to learn. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Initially, I sold products in multi-packs, and now I sell items individually. This change was made based on customer feedback. I also revamped my website when I had professional photography done. I’ve also changed manufacturers and added new sizes and products and tweaked the patterns of existing products.
I think companies always change, grow and improve. If they don’t, they stagnate and will ultimately fail to keep on top of market trends. But changing things doesn’t mean they were wrong previously, just that things have moved on.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur is feeling like you’re making a difference. It’s truly amazing to see photos of children wearing my clothes. I love getting feedback from parents who say, ‘my son loves pink but we can never find things on the high street for him. We are so delighted we found your clothes!’ It really is true that small business owners do a little happy dance and I hope that feeling never wears off.
It’s also great to feel you have control of the brand and be able to make positive changes. For example, this year we committed to donating 1% of turnover to Young Minds, a charity supporting children and young adults through mental health challenges. This is a cause that I feel passionate about but also one that fits with the brand, so it’s great to be able to do something about it.
Being an entrepreneur also encourages you to keep learning new skills and challenging yourself, which I love!
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur can be really draining sometimes. It’s difficult keeping on top of everything and constantly having to find the energy to stay motivated and be inspired. It’s also difficult to take a break, as customers can message you through social media at any time. Of course, you don’t have to respond straight away, but I always feel like I want to. I also take it really personally if a customer is not 100% happy, but that’s my own challenge to deal with!
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
I have a tonne of business books on my bookshelf but, despite my love of reading, I find I rarely pick them up. I’m the sort of person that prefers to learn by doing. That said, I’ve found some really great business podcasts, resources and content online that has really helped me.
Janet Murrey is well known for her advice on marketing content creation and I’d definitely recommend her groups and courses. Sometimes you just need to hear from other business owners that the challenges you face are normal, or you want to celebrate success with other people who will understand. Business networks, Facebook groups or even finding other small business owners locally who you can meet up with, can be really helpful in inspiring you and supporting you.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
Two to three years from now, I’d like to see the business with a much larger range of products, a couple of employees supporting with admin and handling orders, and starting to look at the next stage of growth, which may include bringing the manufacturing in-house.