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Meet the Maker - Anna & Lesley - Lara & Ollie

Posted on November 10 2016

Lara & Ollie at Young Hearts
'Mums in general inspire us – it’s bloody hard work being a mum whether you’re a full time mum, a working mum or anything in between'
Shop the collection - now lots of new colours!

Tell us your start up story? How and when did you begin?
We met through our NCT classes just before we had ouAnna & Leslie Lara & Ollier kids and launched Lara & Ollie in March 2015 so about 18 months after meeting.

We both love jewellery and accessories but quickly realised when we became mums that we couldn’t wear it unless we were away from the kids; not only was it potentially pretty dangerous, we didn’t want anything broken.

Having made jewellery for fun a few years back we loved the concept of teething necklaces but couldn’t find much we liked. So we sourced some beads and made a few and had amazing feedback from friends and mums we were getting to know locally – all of whom wanted to know where they could buy them. So we thought why not give it a go and here we are.

What does your brand stand for / what is important to you?
Our primary aim is to help mamas feel stylish again. Being mums ourselves we know that you feel a bit sad putting away most of your costume/precious jewellery. We also felt that you can lose your sense of style because every day you throw on the quickest, easiest outfit – for us it’s the same old jeans and t-shirt combo that by the end of the day is covered in all sorts of food, dribble, sand, muck etc! Our jewellery can just be thrown on and quickly dresses up any outfit helping make you feel a bit more stylish and like you’ve made an effort. The added bonus is that our necklaces and bangles happen to be safe for a baby to chew and fiddle with.

We also believe our products make fab gifts for new mamas and it’s a treat for them too given that most presents tend to be bought for the little one!

How did you come up with your name?
We spent weeks thinking about the name and had all sorts of ideas – many of which were quashed when we Googled them! We wanted a name that sounded stylish and sophisticated, not cheesy and baby related, but that didn’t restrain future opportunities for products. We always had our babes ‘Lara & Ollie’ in the mix and settled on it in the end – our NCT friends persuaded us to go for it!

What do you love most about running your own business?
There are lots of things we love about running our own business, the obvious one is being the masters of our own destiny – in essence we get out what we put in. We never thought we’d get this far and it’s so exciting and motivating that everything we’ve done is a result of our very own hard work! And the bigger the business becomes, the more excited and motivated we become.

There’s the flexibility it offers - most of the time. We’re pretty much full time mums still so are able to work the business around the kids and they always remain our priority.

We love working as a partnership and there are lots of benefits to this. Everything from having someone to bounce ideas off, challenge things, have different points of view, to being able to tag team. A few times a week one will entertain the kids whilst the other packs orders/works. Also being able to go on holiday and not worry… genuinely this is a huge thing as there’s almost always one of us here to keep things going.

What keeps you motivated?
Sounds super cheesy but each other! We genuinely do keep each other motivated and often when one of us is tired and irritable, then the other is able to keep motivated and drives things forward.

Also a massive motivation for us is the incredible feedback we’ve had and continue to receive. This is not only from our customers, many of whom tag us in fab photos and comments on Instagram or send us emails, but also from the shops that stock us.

We’re also continually inspired, supported and motivated by the amazing mums who we’ve met who also have their own businesses and are facing the same challenges as us. We’ve met so many fab people who’ve become great friends and that was definitely something we weren’t expecting!

What inspires you?
We’ve probably answered that above and it’s definitely the other mums we’ve met who have set up their own businesses.

But also mums in general inspire us – it’s bloody hard work being a mum whether you’re a full time mum, a working mum or anything in between. And what keeps us going is what’s at the heart of our brand ethos and that’s about enabling mums to feel good about themselves. If one of our necklaces or a bangles can help a tiny bit in giving mums a sense of style again and therefore feel good about themselves, we’re happy!

Tell us about the theme for AW 16?
We don’t necessarily have a theme given the nature of our products. However we closely follow fashion trends in colours so are incorporating some of the colours seen on the A/W16 catwalks and in stores now. Watch this space!!

How do you keep the balance in your life?
As we’ve said, we don’t have much childcare in the week so tend to work when the kids sleep which is great whilst they both still have a daytime nap! The minute they’re in bed, we’re working. But of course throughout the day we’re taking calls, on email and social media – we’ve become masters of pushing a buggy whilst emailing/texting/posting! And most evenings are spent working.

We write big to do lists and prioritise as well as divide and conquer actions – if we’re not organised in this way we’d end up spending most of our time in a tail spin.

It is however difficult to switch off when you have your own business. And sometimes the most important thing is to take time away from the iPad/iPhone and not talk about the business.

We try and stick by our rule of minimal working at the weekend. We’ve always said our families are our priority and most weekends where possible are dedicated to family or personal time.

What do you do with your kids when you’re not working?
We’re very lucky as we live in a lovely area (Lee, SE London) where there are lots of parks, cafes and places to go on our doorstep. It’s amazing how many great classes and play groups there are close to us to so we tend to go to these with other friends.

We also have the luxury of London and all the fab things to do. We’re often at the Transport Museum, on the Southbank or Aquarium. Plus we can easily jump in the car to the coast or into the countryside where other than just hanging out in beautiful places there are also farms, castles, adventure playgrounds, country pubs and so much more!

What are the key items you have in your handbag that you cannot live without?
Sadly on a day to day basis it’s wipes - we often joke about how we ever survived without wipes!! Then other than other child related items and snacks (for us as well as the kids!), it’s probably red lipstick – amazing how something so simple can make you feel so glam!

Any busy mum / dad survival tips?
Lots of things with babies and kids are just a phase, try not to sweat the small stuff and pick your battles! Early on in parenting you worry like crazy about every little tiny thing, but you quickly realise that it passes and the next challenge is thrown your way. Whilst parenting is a huge challenge, try to relax and enjoy it too as these small people grow up so fast!

Shop the collection - lots of lovely new teething bracelets and necklaces

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