Jen Fuller on how Etta Loves delivers both babies’ cognitive development and calmness for parents through uniquely-designed baby products
Describe your business in a few words?
Etta Loves baby essentials are uniquely designed with science to support babies’ visual and cognitive development, delivering wonder for babies and calm for parents in the everyday.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I had an idea that I couldn’t ignore when my first daughter, Etta, was around 6 weeks old. I didn’t understand why essential baby products that were in her eye-line day in day out, weren’t being designed to create wonder in her eyes, so I set out to turn omnipresent baby items into sensory essentials, and Etta Loves was born.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I’d spent the best part of 17 years working in planning and strategy within various Media agencies in London. So I understood what made a good brand and marketing plan but manufacturing was totally alien to me.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, but I’ve always been a passionate, driven person and great products excite me, so I felt prepared to dive in once I’d found myself with my very own light-bulb moment.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I relied very heavily on the support of instagram influencers, focusing on new mums who wanted to give my products a go, and thankfully once they’d seen the magic in action they always wanted to share Etta Loves with their community to help grow mine.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
The biggest mistakes have always come within the production process as, being so naive when I started, I didn’t realise the importance of things like getting new strike offs when subtly tweaking colours in a print. This led to some unsellable stock in our first year but thankfully I was able to create a charity partnership and donate it all so It turned out to be positive, but I’ve certainly learnt not to cut corners or rush when it comes to the process.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Launching our Etta Loves x Keith Haring collaboration in March this year whilst simultaneously opening our US website has been incredibly affirming, and I’m hugely proud of how far we’ve come.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
‘What part of this role will you enjoy the least?’ as it’s always important for me to know what people are passionate about and conversely what they don’t enjoy, so that I can work with their strengths and recognise when they’re a little bit out of their comfort zone.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
As an e-commerce brand we saw a significant upturn in sales when the UK locked down last March/April. So whilst it’s been a hugely difficult year emotionally and physically, it’s brought more customers to us and given us a bigger role to play in parent’s day to day lives whilst baby classes remain closed. We have, of course, also had to contend with some negatives – in particular around delays to the shipping of our stock from our factory and also our National mail service all but collapsed in the peak of the pandemic last summer, but as it wasn’t unique to us our customers were very accepting of the situation.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I hope that we can make a real impact in the US now that we’ve launched, and given how unique our products are. We also have some exciting collaborations planned for the next few years and will be expanding our range to deliver even more moments of magic and calm for babies and their parents / carers.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
That flexibility is key as you really never know what’s round the corner…
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish I knew that things going wrong isn’t always a bad thing, as I was so scared of failure, but actually some of my errors have led to really positive realisations.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I’m not sure I’ve managed fully to be honest. Running your own business from home whilst home-schooling 2 children and trying to keep all the plates spinning with a backdrop of fear has been incredibly hard. I lost my father in the summer, and through the grief I was acutely reminded of what I’m working towards and why, helping me to keep focused through the hardest days, whether that was on the business or simply being in the moment with my daughters.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I think there is just life, so the work you do needs to fulfill the life that you’re living or working towards. In terms of finding the balance of work in your day, for me it is about trying to have clear boundaries between work and home life. I like to be fully present wherever I am. So when I’m working, I’m working and when I’m home with my children, I’m home with my children (until something urgent comes up either way of course). Right now my littlest’s nursery is closed so I’m breaking both of my rules, but needs must when you have a family and you just have to make it work however you can.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
My secret hobby is jump rope, as it’s so much fun learning tricks and feeling like a little kid again!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) Have a ‘must-do’ list and do it first.
2) Plan time for regular breaks, as getting away from you workspace can inspire creativity and problem solving.
3) Trust your instincts, it can make you so much more efficient and put a stop to procrastination.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means being passionate, focussed and unique in what you’re delivering to your customers, whilst making sure you’re looking after yourself and what’s important to you.