Your Name and Age: Laura, 41 yrs and Kati, 39 yrs
Tell us about your family: Laura is married and has 2 children, a little girl Ella (2 year old) and son Onni (7 year old). Kati lives together with her long term boyfriend and they have a 6 year old son, Roni.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
We both worked in corporate environments up until giving up our careers in early 2018. Our dissatisfaction and frustration with our corporate careers was always a common factor in our long-term friendship: even 10 years ago we went out for walks and dreamt of one day doing something for ourselves. In late 2017, unfulfilled by corporate environments and their inflexibility, and approaching 40, we both felt it was ´now or never´ to give entrepreneurship a go. It was a coincidence that we both arrived at this place at the same time – a bit like destiny bringing us together! Making the transition was really nerve-wrecking and many people closest to us (thankfully not our partners) were openly critical and doubtful of the decision. I think the first 6 months after transitioning are the hardest because people don´t necessarily take you seriously as you have nothing to show just yet. They think it´s a moment´s craze and you´ll come to your senses eventually. So in short – this was incredibly tough. Throughout all of this, it was so important to have each other – someone to share your vision and belief that one day we will see the results of all the hard work. And someone you believes with you that you can change your life – everything is possible.
We are both very keen on wellbeing and health and focusing on mums´ wellbeing was an obvious choice for us, especially after all the complications we had experienced. And when you add to this the pressure that corporate working environments generally put on working mums, it was clear to us we wanted to go down a very different path. I remember returning to work after my first son was born and literally being completely shattered and exhausted for years as I just did not have enough hours in the day – to combine the demands of an inflexible employer with a strict daycare pick-up policy was a physical impossibility.
When did you launch?
We started preparations for the business – product development, packaging development, initial online store set-up etc – in March 2018 and then formally set-up our business in August 2018. Our products arrived in November 2018 and we launched the business to our customers in December 2018.
How did you get started?
From the start, week by week our vision for the brand grew stronger and clearer. We feel really passionately about the business area and are literally jumping with joy most days as we are so thankful that we can do what we are doing. Of course every other day can be really anxious and we do worry about the future – the uncertainty is really very present all the time. I remember when we started working for this business in March last year, we were not really sure about what to do first – but looking back we have done mostly the right things from the start. We started by thinking of a brand/business name and then checking competition, best selling products, booking domains and creating a logo. For us it was really important to be able to visualise the brand from the start – and this is why we very early on created visual brand materials and created product packaging materials etc with our graphic designer. We also started product development work right from the beginning, and this was by far the most time-consuming and interesting task of the first 9 months of the business.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
Freedom. We both love the freedom our new jobs bring us. We love the responsibility that comes with it – it is great being able to decide about everything ourselves and to have no one to report to. We work much harder now than ever before – but it feels great as we are able to do meaningful things that bring us steps closer to success. We love controlling our own destiny – it´s all down to us now. We have been really excited to notice that even the things you considered ´out of your reach or potential´ – such as IT development etc – is all possible and doable. It has been one the most amazing things to notice that we can even develop a website ourselves, or design really amazing products from scratch. This is completely the opposite from working life, where you are pretty firmly placed in a box and are considered to have few skills outside of that area. So this time has been full of positive discoveries about our own capabilities – and it feels amazing to be able to do things you previously considered impossible.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business
So far I would say it is other people´s reactions and attitudes. Our choice to become entrepreneurs has raised some strong feelings around us – not everybody is praising what we are doing but instead continue to doubt us and to some extent expect you to fail. So the biggest downside is how some of our relationships have suffered as a result – this has been really quite unexpected. You have to have a pretty thick skin doing this.
What has worked well about your business?
From the start we wanted to utilise different talent from all around the world. We have used various freelancer platforms and hired some exceptional people to help us out with various projects to do with website development, marketing, graphic design, content creation and many more. This has worked really well for us as we could not yet afford to hire anyone permanently, and in addition, through hiring skilled freelancers, we´ve had access to incredible skills literally with a click of a mouse. It has been amazing to see how the world of talent and using different skills has developed and how it is now really easy to work with different professionals no matter where they are based.
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?
Overall we should have taken a more factual approach to product development. In the beginning it was somewhat guided by feeling in certain places and this caused some delays and complexities for the future. But this is not something we regret as this is all a learning path and whatever we do takes us down to the next step on the path.
How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business?
The great thing about working for yourself is the flexibility. I can take time out when needed and work whichever hours suit my family. This has been a huge relief with small kids, who are often sick and schedules change at the last minute. Our partners have been incredibly supportive of the business which has helped a great deal. I find myself now working a lot in the evenings and for instance weekends during naptimes – but I thoroughly enjoy it and much prefer to spend my time efficiently whenever I work rather than being bound by strict office hours. Of course the work never ends so we have to be mindful to spend quality time with our families – I think this is something we have to keep an eye on in the future. But we are hoping that once the crazy first years are behind us, the workload will become somewhat more settled.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
At the moment no, as our business is only new and we love what we are doing. We have never looked back and are certain that we would never return to normal jobs anyway. But there may be some other business venture in the future, you never know which direction all of this will eventually take us.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come
Not quite but nearly – we are still waiting for that break-through moment. But in terms of having the guts to leave our old lives behind and start a new life as an entrepreneur – on that front we feel that we´ve done it: although our lives aren´t transformed yet we know that this is the right path and that change is well under way. It´s a really liberating feeling.
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
We´d love to be working in the same business, which has grown and become international. We have dreams of living abroad so perhaps combining family life and running this business in a lovely sunny environment is where I would like to see myself in 5 years time.
Not as such but like said it has been really exciting to notice how many skilled professionals work as freelancers these days; being able to decide on their own working hours and having total freedom in terms of work location. When we started planning for this business, we specifically wanted something that would allow you to do the work no matter where you are. We did not want to be tied to a physical shop for instance – but have the freedom to move to another country if we felt like it and still have a clear job to continue with no matter where we are.
Your website link: www.lolalykke.com