Moms Doing It For Themselves: Leona Robb
We've all had those hectic moments when our baby or toddler hates having their hair tied up. Leona Robb from Donegal came up with the idea for Pretty Baby, because she believed that hair accessories should be soft and stress-free. We caught up with her to see how it's all going for her.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
Pretty Baby is a Donegal based company that specialises in handmade hair accessories specifically for the baby and toddler market. I noticed a gap in the market about five years ago when I was shopping for my own baby. The hair accessories available were too harsh to ever consider putting on a baby's head.
Each of our hair clips and headbands are made with carefully selected materials to ensure that they are incredibly soft and comfortable. Our newest range of skinny headbands are so soft and stretchy that they will fit a newborn right up to a teenager, yes really! We make baby and toddler hair accessories for every occasion, from Christenings and weddings to everyday wear. In less than a few years, we have fulfilled thousands of orders in almost 100 countries around the world.
What was your motivation to start up your business?
My first baby Grace was born with a full head of beautiful black hair. By the time she was three months it was out of control! I didn't want to cut it and as I mentioned earlier I felt that the hair accessories available in stores where too harsh to put on a tiny baby. They were more suitable for a child who was 3 years +.
I have always loved making things and I will try my hand at any craft. When we built our home several years ago, I made sure that a dedicated craft room was built into the plan! And so I started by making Grace a selection of soft closing hair clips that stayed in her fine and wispy baby hair. I received so many compliments about them from family and friends. Soon others were also asking where they could get them and so naturally, Pretty Baby Hair Accessories was born. Not long after, I had a website and a viable business model.
What is your background?
After I graduated college with a Business degree, I worked in marketing for a period before I became a Business and Economics teacher. So I had a good grounding in the principles of Business and Marketing. However, I am continually learning about Digital Marketing and the world of SEO and Social Media.
What have been the highs and lows of setting up your own business?
The speed at which the business grew and developed is definitely one of the highs. Watching it evolve is amazing. It began as an online store only. We now sell into numerous stores across the country as well as exhibiting at larger niche trade shows. My heart still skips a beat every time a customer sends me a photograph of their beautiful baby wearing one of our products. It always puts a smile on my face. Having the flexibility to work around my family's needs is also a massive plus. The lows would be never really being able to switch off. Even though I try and stick to core work hours, my mind is always thinking of some aspect of the business. By far, there are many more positives than negatives.
What advice would you give other moms wanting to start up their own business?
Be realistic from the beginning. You will work harder and longer being your own boss than you will ever have worked in your life. I also think that trying to stick to your core work hours as much as possible is vital. The overwhelming feeling of 'mom guilt' when work starts eating into family time is immense. There are occasions that I have to send emails or make orders when the kids are at home with me. The guilty feeling is always there but I have to remind myself that the kids get to see more of me now than they did when I was working outside the home.
Working for yourself can be very isolated. Get out there and meet other like-minded business moms whenever you can. I absolutely love my conversations with other mompreneurs. They get how crazy busy my life can be. And they are also full of knowledge and new ideas and new leads. I have met so many amazing women on the journey.
Do you have any tips for balancing your work and family life?
It's hard! My motto is 'Get it done'! I focus on what needs to be done before the kids come home from school and creche. And then I try to avoid all distractions. The biggest distraction being my phone / tablet. So many hours can be spent wasting time flicking through social media sites. It rarely achieves or accomplishes anything. I work hard during the week and always try to keep the evenings and weekends for family time. Also, take as much help as is available to you. My husband is fantastic at helping out when I am under pressure. If someone offers to babysit for an evening to give you and your partner a night out, jump at the chance!
What would you say is your next step for 2016 / 2017?
We are currently finalising the branding for our new venture, 'Little Handsome'. This brand offers a collection of stunning bow ties and braces as well as other key fashion items for boys ranging in age from 3 months - 5 years. We hope to launch Little Handsome towards the beginning of 2017.
If you were to be granted three wishes for your business what would they be?
For Pretty Baby and Little Handsome to become household brand names.
For continued growth in internationally as well as at home.
To continue to provide babies and toddlers with the best hair accessories in the market!
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