The Curious Mummy is delighted to feature the incredibly talented Jo Love, the founder of award winning Online Marketplace Lobella Loves. A unique online space filled with gorgeous handpicked treasures created by independent businesses for babies, toddlers and mothers. Jo Love has built a business designed to make a difference and donates a percentage from every single sale to Cocoon Family Support, a charity supporting families suffering from pre and postnatal mental health issues.
Jo’s passion for creating awareness of PND and other mental health issues has seen her launch the ‘Notes of Hope’ campaign, Tea for PND events and recently #depressionwearslippy on instagram. Be prepared to be blown away by Jo’s incredible interview.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m the founder of Lobella Loves, which is an online marketplace for beautiful treasures for babies, toddlers and mums. I’m also mummy to my two and a half-year-old daughter Bella and Lobella Loves is like my second child!
I’d describe myself as an instagram addict where I not only discover amazing independent retailers for Lobella Loves, but I also find it an incredibly supportive platform to speak out about mental health.
When I became a mum I found myself struggling with postnatal depression and eventually decided to quit my high-pressured job as a corporate lawyer and set up my own business, which now gives back to other mothers suffering with mental health issues via Cocoon Family Support.
Tell us about Lobella Loves and what gave you the idea to start?
With Lobella Loves, I wanted to create a space online that took the stress out of finding beautiful things. There are so many fantastic independent retailers and entrepreneurs creating gorgeous clothes, accessories and toys, but I realized (after many sleep deprived nights desperately trying to re-locate items I’d seen on Instagram), that there was nowhere bringing all these wonderful stockists together. That’s when I had the idea to create my own online marketplace especially for mums, babies and little ones.
Anyone will tell you that mums are seriously time-poor, so by bringing together the incredible businesses I’d been hearting on social media, I could not only help mums save time with their shopping, but I realized I also had a chance to help mums on a more fundamental level by donating to PND charity, Cocoon Family Support. I was also excited to help support fellow businesswomen and motherhood inspired startups, and so Lobella Loves was born.
Describe your typical day?
I’m normally woken up by Bella, or as I like to call her – my human alarm clock! This means my day can start anywhere between 5.30am or 7.30am (if I’m lucky!). Since leaving my job as a lawyer, my typical working day looks very different. In fact, no two days are the same, but I love the variety of entrepreneurial life. Every day is an opportunity to make something happen or bring a new idea to life.
Once I’ve dropped my daughter off to childcare I’ll get stuck into my emails or the to dos from my list that weren’t finished the day before. Sometimes I’ll be working at home or at the Google Campus in the City, or out meeting with new sellers to bring on board. As an entrepreneur, meeting new people is incredibly important. I’ve found so many times that a networking event I’ve gone to has led to multiple opportunities. I’ll often be going to an insta-mum related event, launch or workshop, and would never have believed a few years ago that I would have made so many genuine friends through Instagram.
I find chilling out after work a lot harder now I’m running my own business as there’s never a good moment to switch off. However, I massively value the time I have at home with my daughter so I try to put my phone away for a couple of hours each day when she’s back from nursery, to make sure she’s getting my undivided attention.
What would you say the most important thing is in running an online marketplace? What has been the greatest lesson you have learnt?
The most important thing I’ve learnt has to be the importance of process and organization. Once there are set processes in place for different types of inquiries, partnerships or more administrative stuff, then things run a lot more smoothly. Getting those processes right takes time too! Once I’d figured them out, I felt instantly so much more organized. As for the biggest lesson I’ve learnt – everything takes significantly more time than you think it will. In fact, running my own business has made the days feel about 100 times shorter than they were before! There are never enough hours in the day.
What has been a highlight of your career to date?
I only launched this year, so when I heard that I’d won the The Smallish Magazine 2017 Parenting Ambassador Award I was absolutely overwhelmed. While the shop has only been live since spring, I’ve been working solidly behind the scenes on Lobella Loves for nearly two years, and to receive such a prestigious award after just a few months trading was incredible. In fact, I still pinch myself about it!
What do you think it takes to be a Mum Boss?
It helps if you don’t need to sleep! But really, the best thing you can have up your sleeve as a mum boss is an understanding support team. My family, my husband, my amazing colleague Sarah (aka my right hand lady) – they’re always there for me and believe in my vision as much as I do, and that’s worth such a lot.
Every mum boss is a pro at multi-tasking too – and is able to be flexible when it comes to making changes, accommodating different demands and working out a life/business balance that works for their situation. So many of the sellers I work with are mums and they’re all juggling so much – they never fail to keep me inspired.
How do you find a balance between running a successful business, campaigning for mental health awareness and raising a family?
Balance is so hard right now! I think for me balance is like holding a yoga position – you nail it for a little while, then it starts to hurt, then you wobble and then you have to start it all over again. It feels like a constant renegotiation of priorities for me at the moment, but I find having the right perspective is key. I remind myself to zone out when it’s all getting a bit crazy and take a big step back so I can refocus on what’s most important. I know from my struggle with PND that not finding support when you need it can be devastating, so I make an effort to take time out each week – whether I’m using my Headspace meditation app or simply watching Netflix with a well earned glass of wine.
You are working with Cocoon Family Support, a charity supporting families suffering from perinatal mental health issues. Tell us more about your wonderful Notes for Hope Campaign and your Tea for PND events.
It’s so important to me that PND and other mental health issues are better understood. I launched the ‘Notes Of Hope’ campaign to help other mums going through PND and mental health issues to feel less alone. I donate handpicked gifts from Lobella Loves to Cocoon Family Support to give to mothers who are being helped by them. These gifts are accompanied by a letter of hope written and submitted by a mother who has been through a similar experience. It’s about sharing stories and importantly, giving women hope.
My ‘Tea for PND’ events are informal meet ups designed to create an ongoing supportive community around PND and mummy mental health. They’re focused on keeping the conversation going, helping people to share their experiences, raise awareness and of course, drink a hot cup of tea or coffee!
After work, how do you find time to relax?
I wish I could find more time to relax, but I’m actually not very good at switching off! I do think self-care is incredibly important though, so I’ll make time to do things that make me happy, whether it’s crafting with Bella, phoning a girlfriend or booking the babysitter so I can have a date night with my husband. None of this happens quite often enough though – can someone invent a way to slow time down already?!
What are your top five tips for starting a successful business?
- Social media is your friend – use it to network and get your message out there.
- Have a solid business plan – make sure your business model has a clear path to profitability.
- Branding is everything – the right branding opens all the right doors.
- Know your market – research them until you think you know everything, then do some more research!
- Skill swap – Running a business means you will be good at some parts but not so good at others. Reaching out to your network means you can skill swap and gain insights and support from like minded others.