It’s great to see so many companies shortlisted in the category this year! Can you tell us a little bit about your business?
L – Acorn & Pip is a lifestyle brand offering cherished customers more than just a product. We are devoted to creating a playful retail experience rooted in mindfulness and authenticity. Our eye for quality ensures our toys, clothing, gifts and homewares are carefully curated with kids in mind. Finally, a place where the entire family can reconnect, play and make mischief.
C – We are a collective for women who work for themselves or who are aspiring to quit the 9-5. We’re talking fiercely brave, like-minded women who support women. Women who have aspirations to one day work for themselves, women who are juggling the side hustle and are in the transition stage of ditching the 9-5, and women who have already taken the plunge.
Here at Girl Tribe Gang we know that working for yourself, or being in that place where you want to work for yourself, can be a pretty lonely place and we thought that if we could help to reduce even a tiny bit of that isolation you’re feeling, well then that’s going to have a positive effect on your overall health, emotional well-being and success.
We know from experience that starting a business can be scary – we’re only three-and-a-half years old! So, why did you decide to launch your business?
L – The Acorn & Pip venture began when I became a mother for the first time – it has totally transformed the way I see the world; albeit slightly more tired, a world through the eyes of a child is a much more exciting and intriguing place!
A combination of new motherhood mixed with my passion and background in children’s education, Acorn & Pip has grown into a much-loved haven where the child is at the heart of every selling and buying decision I make.
C – I had a lonely and pretty isolating first year in business as a psychotherapist. I had no real network (apart from the one I was building on Instagram) and no Christmas party to look forward to. I lacked basic skills and I had to self-teach myself those business skills. I’d tried the conventional ‘networking’ – but when you are still working the 9-5 and have a family and a side hustle, breakfast and lunch meetings aren’t accessible. The ones that I did find, well, they didn’t fit with me or what I was about. I was trying to escape the corporate world and had no intention of going back to that world. I didn’t want to sell or be ‘sold to’.
I wanted, and so desperately needed to find my Tribe. To collaborate with other women who were in synergy with my brand and most of all, I wanted to try and reduce that isolation and loneliness I was feeling and bring some fun and friendships into this new world of mine – a world that nobody else really understood.
I couldn’t find what I’ve just described, so I created it, from scratch, with my own imagination and my own passion. I invested £200 from my maternity leave pay, built a website, wrote the content, had my baby, (little Kristina) and with the help and support of my husband, and co-director Darren (A.K.A Mr Girl Tribe Gang) Girl Tribe Gang was born. We launched our first Tribe meet up in Ilkley, Yorkshire in May 2017. By September 2017 I had quit the 9-5 world for good. It took me three years from that first seed of an idea to quit the 9-5 and make it happen.
Being on the shortlist for this year’s Northern Blog Awards is a great achievement, but apart from that, what’s been your biggest achievement to date?
L – Without a doubt, my biggest achievement is my family. Some days I look at us, all together, normally crowd controlling, clearing up, moaning about how busy we are, tired, and a bit frazzled and I laugh because this is how it is, we’re happy and healthy. This is us and I’m pretty proud of that. Starting my business was also a huge achievement for me. I’m naturally very focused and I often have to force myself to lift my head out of the day-to-day to recognise what an achievement it is to have my own business.
C – There are a few…
- Being nominated for this award!
- Growing our membership to almost 500 members
- Smashing our year 1 target to launch 20 tribes across the U.K. (We have 30 and growing!)
- Getting to work with super brands like Whistles and Saks who love what we are doing.
- Establishing our community partnership with Wizu Workspace in Leeds to bring co-working space to our members.
- Developing a charity partnership with The Girls’ Network
- Hitting that magic 10K followers on Instagram through pure organic growth.
- Speaking at the Marie Claire LIVE event in London about starting a side hustle.
- Launching our first LIVE event series our Get Together Live ’18 to kick off the 20th anniversary of National Stress Awareness Week.
- Being asked to be the expert Psychotherapist on the Stephanie Hirst show on BBC Radio Leeds.
Lots of positives there! So moving on, what’s been the biggest challenge since you launched your business?
L – My biggest challenge, which I’m certain is the same for all small business owners is cashflow. Cashflow is king and this has been incredibly hard to manage. I’ve never had any formal training so I’ve kind of made it up as I’ve gone along but my goodness… it has given me many sleepless nights. As the business is growing and I have a few years behind me, I can say that I’m learning and it’s easier to manage now.
C – Dreaming big and scaling fast creates its own set of challenges. The demand for Girl Tribe Gang has been overwhelming, and to enable and support that growth, we have to invest in the infrastructure and systems to scale.
What’s your one piece of advice for anyone looking to start up their own business?
L – Have a dream and chase it. Chase it in the way that suits you though; you don’t have to give up your day job and launch in to the unknown. Do it slowly, chase it but it’s not a race.
C – Just do it. Where’s there’s passion there’s always a way. Find your tribe to support and cheerlead you along the way, because it’s a rollercoaster ride.
To view the full shortlist, visit https://www.northernblogawards.co.uk/nbas-shortlist-2018/ and follow @northblogawards to see who takes home the award!