As I celebrate my first year in business this week, I wanted to reflect back on the past 12 months and give you some insight into what it’s been like starting up a new business.
WHAT MADE YOU START LOVE HAIDEE?
If you’ve ever been shopping for your tween or teen girls and come home empty-handed and frustrated with the lack of choice you’ll understand why I started Love Haidee.
Sure, there are a number of other reasons like being my own boss and having the flexibility to be there for my kids as they grow, but that could be any small business venture.
So often clothing is either too mature or made for much younger kids. And girls today are growing up *so* much faster. They’re outgrowing childrens’ clothing at an increasingly younger age, and women’s clothes are simply not designed for girls’ bodies.
Early on I had a customer review that said our PJ’s were “a little bit special without being too grown up” and if I’ve achieved that then I’ve succeeded.
It’s finding that balance between being too childish and too grown up. It’s navigating what many girls this age want to be wearing (based around what they see in the media) with being age appropriate and not letting them grow up too fast.
I have a 13 year old daughter myself. I’m right there with you. I’ve been on those 3 hour shopping trips returning home frustrated and empty-handed.
Girls mainstream clothing is dominated by unicorns and rainbows, slogans, sequins and Disney princesses or cartoon characters. I wanted to provide an alternative. To create simple, classic stylish pieces but above all, comfortable, because that’s really important to girls this age.
YOUR NAME’S EMMA, NOT HAIDEE! IS THERE A STORY BEHIND THE NAME?
There sure is! Haidee was the name of my beautiful grandmother. She’s pictured here with my grandfather and myself when I was young.
When this business was still in its early stages of development I was discouraged from using the name Love Haidee. It's too hard to spell, I was told. People will never find you, they said. But the idea had already taken root in my heart and I couldn't shake it. Nor did I want to.
Pronounced "Hay-dee", she was an incredibly talented seamstress and artist and just a beautiful soul.
I have some wonderful memories of spending time with her when I was young and I'm convinced that my creativity has to have come from her. We used to paint t-shirts with ‘puff paints’ (for you 80’s kids out there, I’m sure you’ll know what I’m talking about!) So, if you count puff paint on t-shirts then I guess you could say that my foray into fashion happened at an early age!
Sadly she passed away when I was young so she’ll never get to see what she inspired but I love that I can honour her memory in this small way and I’m sure that she’d be proud of what I’m creating.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF RUNNING A BUSINESS?
I think the most rewarding part of running the business has to be hearing how much you love our clothing and sleepwear. It’s why I do it.
I love receiving your feedback. One product review or message from a happy customer can put a smile on my face for the rest of the day!
It’s also been enormously rewarding being able to work with my daughter and include her in the process along the way. From getting her thoughts on the designs and colourways, to product testing, modelling the ranges and even doing a lot of the graphic design!
We don’t always agree on everything, but it’s been so much fun and she’s learning so many wonderful life lessons about entrepreneurship, hard work and perseverance that she’ll be able to draw upon as she grows.
While she still won’t create a ‘reel’ for me she’s been so patient with all my requests for photos, even when it’s the last thing she feels like doing.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
I wasn’t even remotely prepared for just how much work was involved. While my husband has been incredibly supportive, he did say very early on that I was choosing one of the hardest industries to go into. And of course, he was right.
The last 12 months have been an enormous learning curve. It’s all the things that you don’t even know that you don’t know. Suddenly here I was talking about things like SEO (search engine optimisation) and Google Analytics. I was even creating spreadsheets (and let’s just say that Excel and I have never been friends)!
Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was what a lonely old road it can be if you don’t know anyone else walking the same path as you.
As much as people can listen and empathise with the highs and lows that inevitably come with running a business, unless you’ve been there yourself you can’t truly understand the high that comes with every glowing review or the sound of the “ka-ching” when someone purchases and the deep lows when things don’t go to plan (hint: that’s *very* often particularly in the year that 2020 has been).
And of course, starting a business just before the onset of a global pandemic has created its own challenges. The ongoing delays are incredibly frustrating but that is 2020 for you, and you just have to roll with the punches as they say.
Thankfully I’ve been lucky enough to make some incredible friendships along the way and it’s been great to support and watch one another’s businesses grow.
WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE DAY LOOK LIKE?
Obviously each day varies, but once I get the kids out the door to school I usually do a quick check of my emails, and social media. I pack any orders that need to go out that day.
Then I might be planning content, whether that be social media posts, email marketing or working on a blog.
That’s the day-to-day type stuff, then there’s the longer term planning and working on things like SEO (search engine optimisation), perhaps updating and tweaking things on the website, planning for the upcoming ranges, liasing with the manufacturer, looking at the analytics of what’s working and what’s not.
Then of course there’s the fun stuff too, like working on my branding and graphics, and planning for photoshoots, because imagery is such an important part of the business. I love that no two days are the same.
YOU TALK ABOUT KINDNESS & POSITIVITY A LOT. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH GIRLS CLOTHING & SLEEPWEAR?
I want girls to have the confidence to just be themselves and to support one another and lift each other up.
I spread messages of kindness, not because it seems to be trending right now, but because I honestly believe that it has a ripple effect and as trite as it sounds, I believe that a few kind words can actually change someone’s outlook on life. Not to mention that it just makes the world a whole lot nicer place to be.
I want Love Haidee to be more than just another clothing/sleepwear brand. I want to build a really positive community.
IS IT TRUE YOU DON’T USE MODELS IN YOUR IMAGERY?
Girls come in all different shapes and sizes. I’ve used my daughter and her friends in all our photography to date because I wanted you to see our images and picture your own daughters in our clothing.
As a Mum myself, I didn’t want to create unrealistic expectations for our girls by using models and retouched imagery. And I love that I have the opportunity to shape some of the images that our girls are exposed to.
WHERE TO NEXT FOR LOVE HAIDEE?
The feedback from our customers has been amazing. It makes me so happy to hear that you love our sleepwear.
I’m working on some new designs for 2021. We’ll maintain the ability to mix and match all our pieces to take you through the seasons, but we want to mix it up a bit and introduce some subtle prints to our range.
I also get lots of requests for larger sizes for Mums as well as boys sleepwear. I’m working on that too. Nothing happens quickly, of course. We’re not fast fashion and never will be, but there’s definitely some exciting things in the pipeline!
I hope you love our clothing and sleepwear as much as I enjoy creating it for you. I couldn’t have got this far without you, our amazing customers. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
Love Emma x