In this issue of business hour, I chatted with a local mum and entrepreneur Morgana Loze-Doyle about getting creative, children and coffee, writes Tracy Hargreaves
Thirty-four-year old Morgana Loze-Doyle from Cottam knows a thing or two about setting up her own business. After starting work as a social worker in 2006, she worked with parents in Preston, struggling with their children, but after several years was made redundant, when the funding to the charity she worked for got cut.
Instead of looking for alternative employment in 2011 she decided to start doing something for herself and began working at home, blogging about life as a mum, formerly in the parenting blog community as Butwhymummywhy. She was soon reviewing products and working with brands and as her children were young, it provided her with the perfect opportunity to have a better work life balance.
After a couple of years, her girls had begun school and the time had come to give them a bit of privacy. “I decided to start a blog that was about space for me and not about parenting,” said Morgana, “and so Coffee Work Sleep Repeat was born. As I work from home it can feel like that’s all I do some days – drink coffee, work, sleep and then do it all over again! I like to think of my blog as a little extension of myself, so it is far from perfect and is often fuelled by black coffee and biscuits. I share posts on all my favourite things, from interior style inspiration, fashion, travel.”
That’s when her next business idea came to fruition. “I decided to set up an online boutique selling children’s fashion accessories and gifts, like hair clips, stationery and necklaces, called Little and Fierce Kids,” said Morgana. “I don’t come from a retail background and didn’t have any retail experience, so it was a steep learning curve. When I first thought of this store back in 2014 there was so little on the high street for children that was good quality and fun. I wanted to curate products that were from small independent makers and brands that you couldn’t find on the high street that would be a hit with both children and their parents.
“I spent a lot of time on my business plan and doing research and then looked at getting funding to start me off. I applied to the Virgin Start Up programme and after a lot of back and forth business plan tweaking, I was approved. The money hit my bank account and I was matched up with a fantastic business mentor. I was also fortunate enough to be loaned money from family too. I have to say one of my favourite parts of the job was researching and sourcing brands to stock. Before launching I went to trade fairs, scoured Etsy and lived on Google searching for brands and businesses that would be a good fit for the store I wanted to create. My husband helped me set up the website and in 2014, my virtual shop was open.”
Whilst working for yourself has its benefits, running your own business also comes with its problems. “I found managing the money and planning stock levels to be the hardest. It was so tricky knowing just what to buy and how much to invest in a brand for each season. Sometimes I got it right and other times I took a risk and it just didn’t pay off. Being a parent was a fundamental part of Little and Fierce. My girls were my inspiration when it came to choose new products and lines for the store.”
However, as supermarkets and other retailers began to increase their children’s wear and accessories, Morgana just couldn’t compete with the cheaper prices. “I wasn’t making the money to justify the time I was spending on the business,” she says. And so, the business was wound down early in 2018.
The one thing that did work, however was her social media. “When you have a business, social media is key to its success.” And this led her to next new business initiative, as a social media creative consultant and creative business coach for small businesses. “I offer consultancy packages for social media marketing, whether it’s an ‘MOT’ of their Instagram or Pinterest accounts, help reaching their target market, or starting from scratch.”
Most recently, her background working with small businesses, experience of her online children’s boutique and mummy blogging has led her to build on Coffee Work Sleep Repeat and establish Coffee Work Sleep Creatives, or CWS Creatives. A networking group for northern business women who have all set up their own independent businesses and are looking to share ideas. “It started off with a few contacts and now we have more than 230 members and growing,” says Morgana “Working for yourself can be quite solitary. We meet on a monthly basis and have a Facebook group, it’s a chance to chat over coffee and find out more about each other’s businesses as well as being able to help and support them. We also have separate meet ups that cater for mums with under 5s that are co-hosted with BabyLoved at Valley Coffee (www.facebook.com/babyloveduk).
“Being made redundant has allowed me to bring out my creativity and try new things. It’s not easy being a mum with your own business, but it’s been incredibly rewarding, I’ve learnt so many things along the way and I wouldn’t change a thing.”