Hello and welcome back to another week of Mama You Can, a series started to started to share inspirational stories of Mama’s who have changed career direction, started their own business or negotiated a more flexible role to fit in with family life.
This week we have the lovely Laura Hollinger another fellow Surrey Mummy who set up her stunning business Lily and Fred earlier this year. I’ll hand over to Laura to tell her story…
Mama You Can: Laura Hollinger
My name is Laura and I am mum to four gorgeous kiddies! This year I started my online boutique Lily & Fred. A lifestyle store full of beautiful clothes, toys and home accessories for babies & children. All our collections are hand-picked by me from brands across the world that offer unique pieces that can’t be found easily on the high street.
I also passionately believe that we can all make a difference in the world around us and are all able to do something to help others whatever season we find ourselves in – and no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Therefore, my heart for Lily & Fred is to build a business that will also have a lasting impact in the lives of others. We currently support two charities – Vision Rescue & A21 – and it is my vision to be able to grow the “giving back” side of our business as well.
When did you change direction?
I returned to work part-time after the birth of my first daughter and really enjoyed the balance of being a mum at home and continuing in employment. I was working as a Digital Editor for a global development charity and felt really fulfilled in a role that was also contributing to bringing change into others lives. However I then went on to have my second child and the juggle just didn’t work anymore, and so I made the decision to leave employment and become a full-time mum. If any of you know my story already, then you’ll know that my ‘third child’ ended up being the surprise package of twins! So I was really thankful to be at home as although I had a really healthy and straightforward pregnancy, carrying twins was definitely exhausting and I don’t think I would have been able to work as well as looking after my other two!
After having the twins I knew it wasn’t going to be practical to return to work in the normal sense of the term. And although I was more than happy at home (being a stay-at-home mum really does fulfil me) I had always had a niggle that I would love to be able to do something for myself and the idea of a boutique / retail business was an idea and dream I had been toying with over a few years (I had bought my domain name for my website about two years prior to having the twins when my second child was born! But didn’t do anything with it!)
When the twins were nearly one, I was dreaming and scheming yet again at a 3am feed (I reckon this is a golden hour for feeding mamas!) I remember just feeling like I should go for it with the business. By this stage there seemed to be lots of other similar businesses already out there and I had all the usual concerns about whether it would work, maybe it’s already been done etc etc. However I know it sounds cheesy but I definitely believe in life that it’s better to take a risk and give something a go, rather than look back in a few years and regret! And so Lily & Fred was finally born.
How did you feel before you took the plunge?
I was definitely nervous about taking the plunge and starting something for myself, plus we had to invest some of our savings into getting it all up and going, so definitely felt the weight of it all – and still do! However as soon as I made that decision to get going I was just really excited. The day my website launched I was really proud of what I had achieved, it felt amazing to see something that had just been only a dream to finally become a reality.
How did you feel after?
My plan has always been to grow the businesses at a steady pace, I don’t have lots of free time to work on it, so it’s just evenings and the odd nap time I can grab here and there. However I do get
frustrated when I don’t have enough “time” to do all the things I want to do! I have so many ideas and want to just do it all NOW! I just have to keep reminding myself that this is something to work on and grow while I still have kiddies at home, once they’re all at school in a few years I will be able to devote even more time to growing and expanding other areas of the business. Watch this space!
How are things going?
It has been an amazing year, lots of learning on the job, celebrating some wins and also making lots of mistakes too! I would describe the growth as slow and steady, but I am really happy with that. I want to be here for the long run and my vision is for longevity. I’m loving building the business and really enjoy my evenings when all the kids are in bed, working on something for me. I’ve also loved discovering and meeting other amazing women and mums like myself just giving something a go and building some amazing businesses!
Tips for other mums wanting to make the change:
- If you have an idea, don’t just write it off, take the time to explore it. It could be the next big thing!
- Don’t settle for average – dream big and believe anything is possible.
- If you’re not sure where to begin. Start with what you’re passionate about.
- Be confident in who you are and what you want to do. Don’t compare yourself to others – remember, often what we see on social media is just the highlight reel anyway!
- And finally, all I want to say is – what are you waiting for?! Just go for it! At the end of the day, what do you have to lose? If a busy and tired mum of four can give something a go then I reckon you can too!!
You can find out more about Lily & Fred on Instagram.