Businesswoman of the Month – February 2017

Karen Londors & Kelly Pallant – Child Friendly Escapes

This month we interviewed Karen Londors (mum to Eve, aged 2) & Kelly Pallant (mum to Fraya, aged 4) – who realised there was a gap in the market when they couldn’t find good quality holiday accommodation that considered and catered for families with babies and toddlers. 

Their business Child Friendly Escapes is one year old this month! Happy Birthday ladies!! 🙂 

 

Would you mind giving us a brief explanation of what your business is and when you launched it?

Child Friendly Escapes is a website offering an inspiring collection of quality holiday accommodation, specifically designed for families with little ones. Our website launched on 28 February 2016

What made you want to start this particular business?

Between us, we have worked in the travel trade for nearly 35 years, so were used to the luxury side of travel – one of the perks for working in that industry.

However, we found that once we had our daughters, we struggled to find great quality holiday accommodation that really catered for and considered family’s needs. We didn’t want to have to fill the car with the high chair, travel cot, sterilizer, stairgate etc etc, neither did we want to pay extra to have those ‘luxuries’ in our accommodation. We thought there must be places out there that consider and cater for families with babies and toddlers, but finding them was difficult. We realised there was a market for this and Child Friendly Escapes was born!

Kelly Fraya (002)What do you think it takes to succeed in business?

Determination, drive and passion for what you do and believe in. We are still in the early stages of our business, so we are still learning as we go. You need to learn to take the rough with the smooth and overcome any obstacles you come across – there will be many!  But the more determination, drive and passion you have, you will find a way!

What is the most important lesson you have learnt so far?

There is no harm in asking for advice. There is plenty support out there, especially from fabulous groups like The Business of Mums who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

What do you think it is about you that enabled you to turn an idea into a business?

Karen LondorsWorking together as a team, running ideas off each other and not giving up. We have both come close to giving up over the last year or so, but staying positive has made our website what it is today.

If you were starting all over again tomorrow, what are the top 3 rules you would follow?

  1. Talk to as many people as possible in your industry. We have recently gone into partnership with Cottages.Com and our contact there has been a life saver with advice over the past couple of months, and she has even saved us £200 per month in costs
  2. Get to grips with Social Media early on. As we are Business to Consumer, we have found this is the best way to reach out to our audience with a very minimal marketing budget. Our recent competition on Facebook has been a complete success.
  3. Be flexible. Expect changes, some that are out of your hands, and be prepared to change a schedule, plan or even your website as things can change at any time.

What difficulties did you experience setting up your business and what has got you through the tough times?

The main difficulties we experienced setting up was budget, time and having to be every department in a company.

Being full/part time mummies, the £££’s were not rolling in and we relied on the savings we had both built up over time. But it’s not a bottomless pot unfortunately.

Being mummies, time was an issue as we were busy looking after our children, going out to work, being a home-keeper and finding time when we could to research, write copy etc. for the business. By the time evening came, we were too shattered to concentrate.

Then there’s having to know how to be HR, accounts, sales, marketing, admin, and many areas they we hand’t experienced beforehand.

But our confidence that our business idea is a good one, the great feedback we get from others, and knowing that we are doing this for our families gets us through the tough times.

Looking back now, would you have done anything differently?

If we had spoken with our contact at Cottages.Com in the early stages then we would have gone down the partnership route earlier and saved ourselves approximately £2,000 over the year. However, going through what we have, the good and the bad, has been a valuable experience – and it’s how we know what we now know. It’s all a learning curve.

What have been the ups and downs of creating a business with a friend, and what advice would you give to someone who is going into business with someone else?

Do it! We were lucky enough to know each other through working together and so we know each other’s strengths and are able to bounce ideas and solutions off each other. We also made an agreement in the beginning that we would never let anything get in the way of our friendship and would always talk things through, even if we were not happy about something. Be honest and communicate with each other, always. That’s the best advice we can give.

Starting a business can be all-consuming. As mums, what are your tips for dealing with the struggles of balancing work and family life?

This is an ongoing struggle for us both. At the end of the day, we all have our ‘I’m being a rubbish mum’ days, and then there are others when you have had a blast with your little ones. Some days you will need to be on the laptop while they’re watching Peppa Pig, but others you will be going out to the park and giving them your undivided attention. Just remember you are doing this for their future and there will be some sacrifices to be made.

Do you have (or did you have) a mentor and when you need advice, who do you talk to?

Firstly we have each other. Usually one or the other comes up with something the other hasn’t thought of. Our husbands/partners also have their own businesses so can often come up with some great advice, suggestions and ideas. Having worked in the industry for such a long time as well we have ex colleagues that we have had advice from and bounced idea’s off.

Then there’s the social media groups when your question is more specific. There are so many helpful, kind people out there, we have to remember that at times.

What are your plans for the future?

Our current plan is to kick off our partnership with Cottages.Com with a passion. In the travel industry, January is a major booking month for holidays and so we aim to hit it where it hurts! In the nicest possible way.

We also plan to engage with our customers more, hoping to offer a personal service where possible and continue building our brand.

Do you have any specific tips for anyone wanting to start a new business?

 

Do your research and speak to as many people in business as possible. The more information you gain, including any difficulties they faced or still face, the better prepared you will be for your business. And just go for it!

 

You can visit Karen & Kelly’s website here

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