Welcome to Part Four of Mumspirational! Our mission to showcase inspirational women who happen to be parents and their wonderful businesses!
This week it’s the turn of Jo Love from online shop Lobella Loves. Of course, this story wouldn’t be ‘Mumspirational’ without something really special, and the lady behind Lobella Loves is just that!
In our interview with Jo we talk to her about leaving her role as a corporate lawyer and why she donates a percentage of her sales to a really special charity. We hear all about ‘Notes Of Love’, which is a genius and inspirational way of touching other Mums who have faced post natal depression.
Tell us a little bit about your job or career before you launched your website.
Before I launched my online marketplace, Lobella Loves, I worked as a corporate lawyer, and while I enjoyed my work at the time, I’m so glad I took the leap of faith to launch my own business. As an entrepreneur I feel I have the chance to use and develop so many more skills, it’s refreshing to have gone beyond my specialism. I’m embracing the highs and lows of entrepreneur life and have never had such incredible job satisfaction before.
What made you take the leap to decide to start your own business?
When I had my daughter Bella I suffered from postnatal depression which made me look at everything in my life very differently. As part of my healing I decided to leave my job in order to focus on what would make me feel more fulfilled. The corporate world can be very inflexible and not always the most conducive to a satisfying family life, whereas now I’m my own boss, I can prioritise my workload and arrange my day around what works best for my daughter and my family.
I came up with the idea for Lobella Loves when I was looking for unique treasures for my daughter. I would often find beautiful things from independent sellers on Instagram or social media, but could never remember where or how to find them again! I’d spend hours trying to retrace my steps and I realised other mums had the same problem. Until I became a mum I didn’t realise how hard it is to find original baby and child related items from boutique producers, I saw that there was a need for a marketplace that brought such treasures together in one place!
Lobella Loves makes it a lot easier to find unique gifts and gorgeous clothes, accessories and furnishings with crucially free postage and one easy check out. I was really motivated by the fact I could not only help support small businesses, but also saw it as an opportunity to help raise awareness of postnatal depression and other maternal mental health issues. I’m very proud that Lobella Loves donates money from every sale to Cocoon Family Support that helps women suffering from PND and other conditions.
Charity plays a large part of your daily work, what was the motivation behind this and how do you support your charity?
Having experienced postnatal depression firsthand, and the devastating effects it can have, I felt passionately people needed to be having more conversations about PND and mental health in general. I wanted to make sure that this was a clear part of my Lobella Loves story from the beginning because it’s an issue that’s very close to my heart. Raising awareness of issues like PND can make women who are suffering feel more supported and less alone – which I think is one of the most difficult things about it, feeling like you’re not supposed to talk about what you’re feeling can only worsen your symptoms.
One of our campaigns is called Notes For Hope whereby we donate a gift package from Lobella Loves to a mum who is being supported by Cocoon Family Support. The Lobella Loves gift package is accompanied by a handwritten letter from another mum who has gotten through PND or a similar experience, to help them feel less alone and to reassure them that things can change over time. Another is #depressionwearslippy where women share their lipstick selfies to show solidarity and highlight that mental health conditions can affect any one at any time regardless of what they look like on the outside.
I also organise ‘Tea for PND’ events where a bunch of women can come together to drink tea, eat cake and get the conversation going about mummy mental health. It’s an informal and relaxed event but one that often leads to new friendships and breakthroughs in understanding about what PND is like to live with.
My own PND journey is on-going but it’s getting better all the time. I go to weekly counseling sessions and share my experiences with my instagram followers to dispel the taboos around therapy and mental health issues. The amount of support and shared stories that have come about because of these sharing sessions is amazing and just goes to show that when you open people are there, ready and willing to help give you the support, help and hugs you need.
What is your best selling product at the moment?
People seem to absolutely adore any form of cute baby bootie (including me!), but our nursery accessories, prints and clothes are popular too. And of course Spacemasks the beauty product taking the internet by storm which I personally swear by – little jasmine-infused eye masks then sooth you into the deepest most relaxing sleep. An essential for any parent. Almost every week I’m adding new retailers and products to Lobella Loves, so our best sellers are always changing as our range increases. It’s always exciting to see what is going to fly from one week to another!
How do you juggle being a Mummy and running your own business?
Juggle is definitely the right word! I try to make sure I block out times in the day where I can really be present with Bella and put the business on pause while I’m busy being a mum instead. It can feel very full on at times, but I wake up excited to know that every day is different and that I’m the one that is making Lobella Loves happen. It’s very fulfilling to have my own business and I love that it’s all inspired by my daughter as well. I want her to know that if she wants something and works hard, then she can achieve it. Working for myself also now means I can be more available in other ways as I’m often working from home. While it’s super busy, I feel very lucky to be able to fit my dream career in around caring for my daughter.
Do you have any particular rules to make sure you balance things so you get family time away from the internet and your work?
I make rules, then I break rules! Isn’t that what rules are for?
I find it so hard to finally say, no, stop, that’s it. There’s no clocking off time as a business owner. However, I realise how important it is for me to have space and time just for me and my family, and I make an effort to really be in the moment particularly at the weekends because that’s the only opportunity I have for quality family time with my husband. Work can easily take over if I’m not careful, so I try to remember that work isn’t my life and that while it’s important, nothing counts more than making happy memories with my loved ones.
If things are getting too hardcore then I’m lucky that my husband knows when to intervene. He recently booked me an amazing 48 hours away in Bath for my birthday, it was just us two (my daughter was down the road at her Granny’s) and switching off for a full 48 hours (more or less) was exactly what I needed to recharge… it’s a shame I don’t have a birthday every month really…
Business nowadays are not just about contact via email, potential clients reach you via social media as well as websites, do you feel a pressure to keep up to date with social media and respond to messages quickly? If so do you find this impacts on your time, especially in the evening?
I think a lot of entrepreneurs would say they could easily spend 90% of their day with their thumbs attached to their phones replying to every social media message and growing their social following and business empire! It can be relentless – and addictive. I absolutely adore Instagram for the friendships and business contacts it has given me. Instagram has been an integral part of my business idea since day one and I love how much community exists on that platform. That said, it can feel overwhelming if there aren’t certain limits in place. I have times of the day where I’m checking in on my social media, so I’m on there regularly and consistently but not constantly.
What advice would you give another Mum who is considering starting their own business or career to follow their passion?
While entrepreneurship can look glamorous it isn’t the easy option by any means. I would say that if you have an idea that you feel truly inspired by, then you have to absolutely go for it. Before you do, take time to really crunch the numbers, do your market research, business model and business plan and only launch when you’re happy to do so. Getting a brand ready to launch is so, so much work, but actually running a live business is ten levels beyond! Plan how you use your time and get some good processes in place for how to manage different elements of your business – these will make life easier, make communication clearer and save you a lot of stress!
Ultimately, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, launching my own business, so I can only recommend it.
What would you say has been your biggest ‘wow’ moment since you began working for yourself?
My highlights so far have been winning the Best Parenting Ambassador 2017 in the Smallish Design Awards as well as winning the Gold Award for Best Gift Retailer from Junior Design Awards and the Bronze Award for the Smallish Design Awards for best online retailer. I couldn’t have even dreamt of having this kind of recognition so soon after launch – winning these accolades has been completely unexpected and absolutely mind-blowing!
What does the future hold for Lobella Loves?
Lobella Loves is a real baby in business terms, we’ve only been launched for a matter of months. My goal for the future is to develop it into a more established business that has more sellers, more products and more brand awareness. I’d love to get Lobella Loves out there on a much bigger scale which means going back to the business plans, the numbers and the maths. I have a huge list of exciting things I’d like to do with Lobella Loves, but it’s very much one thing at a time at the moment.
Finally, who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My biggest inspiration is my daughter. She inspires me to be the best version of myself and to achieve the vision that I have for Lobella Loves and our lifestyle as a family.
My everyday motivation comes from the many talented sellers and small business owners that I work with on Lobella Loves as well as Cocoon Family Support who do incredible work to support women and their families when they’re affected by PND and other maternal mental health related problems.
You can find Lobella Loves gorgeous website, which is brimming with perfect Christmas gift ideas here, but please don’t blame me for the spend haha! You can also follow Lobella Loves on Facebook here , Twitter here and Instagram here, (we love following Jo’s insta stories!)
For more information on Cocoon Family Support visit their website here: http://cocoonfamilysupport.org
Thanks to Jo for taking the time to talk to us today, we’ve loved hearing your story and how you are helping to positively affect the lives of others while running a business and looking after a small person! You’re truly Mumspirational!
Every Wednesday we’ll be uploading a new story as part of our Wonder Woman Wednesday series.
See you next week xxx