Unique children’s clothing, toys and gifts from retailers around the world.
Loubilou was founded by Heath Kane, Jordan Hammond, and Bree Jessup. The inspiration for Loubilou came after Heath bought his daughter a t-shirt from one of the big High Street childrenswear retailers in the UK and then the very next day, spotted three other girls at the playground wearing identical shirts. Having two daughters herself and with a passion for everything high-quality and unique for children, Heath approached Bree with his idea of launching a children’s marketplace in the UK, Australia and eventually world-wide. He wanted Bree to take care of the Australian sector, and she was more than happy to.
The partners identified just how big and influential some of the High Street retailers have become over the past decade, and how difficult it is to find original and limited production children’s items to buy online. They researched the children’s industry and the channels currently available to small businesses for e-commerce, and confirmed that there was a real opportunity. They then set to work, developing an online marketplace that would support independent merchants selling original children’s goods while also supporting parents and friends who want to encourage individuality in the children they care about. Loubilou was the result of this work.
Here is what Bree shared about running the Loubilou business.
Q. What did you do before you started this business?
Before working on Loubilou, I was a Primary School Teacher in Melbourne. I was taking a break from this to raise my two daughters (ages 4.5 and 2.5) when Heath approached me to work with him on Loubilou and drive the launch of Loubilou in Australia. The wonderful world of childrensware is a very big passion of mine, so of course I jumped at the opportunity!
Heath (CEO) is an entrepreneur and designer, with more than 20 years of experience working around the world for many of the world’s leading design and communication agencies, including Sapient, where he was one of the first creative directors. After leaving Sapient he set up his own consultancy (Kane + Associates) and went on to become the only external consultant appointed to Freeserve’s brand committee – this is where he met Jordan. His clients have included Jamie Oliver, Be Broadband, Excel Airways, and Coast Magazine .
Jordan Hammond, (CTO) has worked as a senior developer and consultant for the Internet and banking communities over the past 12 years. Jordan gained valuable experience in what it takes to make a new venture successful by working for start-ups such as Blackstar.co.uk, Rreeserve.com, and Betfair.com. Previously, Jordan provided technical consulting services to financial services companies including City Index and The Royal Bank of Scotland, enabling them to develop real-time trading applications.
Q. Did you have any business training before you started?
No. We brought a lot of skills with us – and for what we didn’t (and still don’t) know we’ve had to teach ourselves.
Q. Describe your business and products/services you offer.
Loubilou.com is the first online marketplace for unique, high-quality children’s toys, clothing and gifts from around the globe. These wares are sold by the independent designers and makers themselves, direct to the public via Loubilou.
We also have an Australian website (www.loubilou.com.au), which will soon be completely merged with loubilou.com. This will make loubilou.com one large, international site, offering unique and high-quality children’s goods from all over the world.
Q. How long have you been running your business?
We launched Loubilou UK in February 2013, but this didn’t go live to the public until May 2013. Loubilou Australia was launched a few months after this. Both sites have been running separately since this time, but with the launch of our new International capabilities on our websites, the two will be merged in the near future to create one true International site.
Q. How many hours a week do you work in your business?
Between running a household and raising two very busy children, I put all my extra time and energy into Loubilou. I honestly don’t count the actual hours of work each week, I just do it all when I can! Working from home gives me a wonderful opportunity to be here for my children, all while being part of something fabulous. This flexibility is priceless!
Q. What kind of online and offline marketing do you do and which is working for you?
We’re been using a combination of traditional and modern tools and techniques to draw attention to the site since our public launch in May 2013. We’ve been using all the online tools available to us, like social media, SEO and even mobile devices to build up our traffic. Recently, we have been spending a lot more time developing our blog
As for offline marketing, we try to get our individual sellers into as many publications as possible, showcasing their wonderful wares. I also spend a lot of time at local designer markets, chatting to potential sellers and handing out brochures. Spreading the word of Loubilou is very important to us and pivotal to success, so we are always working hard on doing this.
Q. Do you use social media as part of your marketing?
Yes – It’s been very effective in helping us spread the word, so we will continue to utilise it.
You can follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/loubiloukids, @LoubilouKids and @LoubilouAus on Twitter, and loubiloukids on Instagram.
Q. What mistakes have you made in running your business and what lessons have you learnt from those?
The whole experience is a learning curve for all of us at the moment! We are learning new things every day and hopefully putting these lessons into practice. One of the main things I have learnt on this new journey is to never give up. There will be plenty of rejections before a small win. So just keep trying, don’t be disheartened and have trust and belief in our business plan that we know is excellent!
Q. How has your website helped you run your business?
As Loubilou is solely based online, our website is the crux of our business. Jordan does a fabulous job with running our website smoothly and has developed a website that is easy to use and very efficient.
Q. What obstacles or challenges are you facing at the moment?
Time and money are our most immediate challenges. We’re self-funding and devoting all of our own time to Loubilou. Eventually, when we meet the targets we’ve set for the site (eg. number of registered sellers, buyers and items), we will most likely reach out to get investors onboard to help us accelerate business.
Q. Any other comments / points you would like to share about running your business?
We are always looking for more independent children’s designers to join our ever-growing community of sellers. Check out our website, where you’ll find everything you need to know about being a seller on Loubilou.
• It’s free to join. There are no contracts or lock-in.
• Fees are calculated on a “pay-as-you-sell” basis, meaning that you pay a commission of 10% on the sale of the item.
• Sell direct – regionally or globally, you decide! – and engage directly with customers.
• Become part of a larger community of independent merchants committed to producing quality children’s goods.
Some of our achievements to date are:
• Currently representing over 500 independent brands (and over 4500+ items)
• Strong working relationship with leading children’s mums magazines and National Press
• Press in Financial Times, the Independent, Hello Magazine, OK Magazine, CWB, Drapers, Mother & Baby, Angels & Urchins, Baby London and much more
• TV interview on France 24 News
• Strong network of Mummy Bloggers
• Large network of cross-promotional companies
• Working with leading independent distributors and manufacturers who use Loubilou to sell direct
• 7K+ followers on Facebook, 4K+ on Twitter
• Awarded Best Online Children’s Marketplace by My Family Magazine
For more information, visit Loubilou website.