Well, this is us, Toni and Gail. We are sisters, originally from the land of the long white cloud (that’s NZ for those of you not in the know), now happily living in Sydney’s Inner West and owners of andthelittleonesaid.com.au – a little website that recently turned one!
We thought we’d take a moment out to celebrate our little milestone, and relive some of what went on in the uphill learning fest that was the past year.
So here goes, how we got started – let’s just say we threw ourselves in head first so ‘learning on the job’ as the old saying goes, was always how it was going to be. We knew we wanted to work from home to be near our kids (6 count em, 3 each) and we knew we wanted to do something vaguely creative and clever.
While we started out looking to buy an established site, we felt that between us we could set up something that was more our style both in terms of design and what we stocked. We also wanted (everything of course!) flexibility, ease of use, for us (especially for us!) and the customer, and we wanted it to be fun.
Gail, the younger, skinnier (not fair) one with slightly more patience had been having and minding babies for the past 5 years and the old wheels were a bit rusty, nothing like jumping in the deep end and creating a website – yay! Toni, the older, slightly grumpier one, had been in the corporate world of marketing, but not enjoying the pressure or the hours and a new (surprise!) baby meant staying nearer to home was much more appealing – especially since both our husbands, bless them, travelled frequently with their jobs. So our ‘team’ now involved two enthusiastic but clueless Mums and 6 naughty children – it was going to be an interesting year.
There were plenty of hurdles and hiccups but right from the get go we knew we were going to enjoy ourselves. I’m sure we wouldn’t have been able to do this had we not met so many great suppliers. They have been so helpful and supportive and it’s lovely to work in an industry that totally ‘gets’ how tough it is to work from home with kids. We are in awe of every one of those creative and clever folk.
Our goal was for And the little one said to “offer beautifully made, and classically designed, quality products on a website that is engaging and easy to use”. We are proud that most of our products are sourced locally from Australia and New Zealand and we are still dreaming big, regardless of how little we are.
Our ‘Offices’ – along with big dreams for the site, we have big dreams for our ‘offices’. Gail currently share a little room with a spare bed and 4 containers of stock. There’s a selection of Christmas presents sitting precariously on top of the drawers, and half a dozen invoices now have various rainbows and ballerinas drawn on them but at least there is a room. The three girls all happily share their room but I’m not sure how much longer they will tolerate such close quarters.
Toni on the other hand has the dining room table, which also includes rainbow and ballerina drawings along with the occassional dropped cup of milk and a smooshed kiwifruit.
Successes – hmmm, still talking to each other after a year? Still managing to hang in there despite not knowing what we are doing and of course our children have never looked so nice in their pretty clothes.
Fails – we have had a few, hindsight being a wonderful thing. Some standouts are:
- presuming online meant online. The appeal of online was immense, largely due to our tendency to be awkward and shy in social situations. The gift of the gab is not something we possess and tend to apologise more than necessary. Unfortunately establishing a following online takes time so markets and home based sales were necessary. Sigh. Born sales people we are not. What we ARE is passionate about our products. We stock the things we love because we know we couldn’t bring ourselves to sell anything less. We are also passionate about customer service as we cannot bear to think that there are customers in the world thinking ill of me. (like the Pride and Prejudice ref… huh … huh)
- underestimating Social Media. Wow, there is so much to learn and again, with our awesome social awkwardness, we would be mortified if we felt we were becoming annoying or repetitive. Social Media takes up a huge part of our workload and we are constantly looking for ways to improve it. Please be patient, we want to bring you quality, and we want to do it honestly. We don’t buy followers and we don’t pay someone to post things set to a particular demographic. It’s all us, and sometimes we get it wrong, but it’s two Mums who are working from home with kids. You get us on grumpy days and happy days, when everything has gone wrong, and hopefully when we celebrate 🙂 We do also not count ourselves as “the younger generation” and our 6 & 8 year olds know their way around an iPad better than us, so this Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, BLOG thing is still a little new to us.
- professionally trained models we do not have…. or photographers for that matter. Please look at some of our fantastic photo shoots of the past. Bare in mind that all of these are held in the 20 minute window that was either before sleep and before too cranky, before food and covered in something sticky, before having to rush to school pickup, whilst child was asleep so as not to have a little interrupter, before husbands called time because they had been wrangling other 4 children and dogs in park and all hell had broken lose.
Where we want to go from here – we’ll continue to work out the kinks and work on further establishing ourselves, but one of our ultimate goals, partly inspired by so many of our wonderful suppliers, is to start designing and launching our own products. We both have a yearning to do some of the creating! And whether that be clothing or decor or something new entirely … you will have to wait and see!!
Thank you for all your awesome support and giving us a crack. We love to hear your stories, we love to hear what you think and we would love the opportunity to try and get you what you want.
Lots of Love, Toni & Gail
We asked our Mum if she could send us some photos of the two of us. Classic. They are in short supply. Sadly our parents obviously did not excel at photography and it seems every photo of the two of us is either out of focus, inappropriate (a tank Mum?) or just plain bad. It’s a laugh anyway – here we are! On the plus side, our children and animals are very cute.
And the little one said is a boutique online website that offers beautiful, stylish and quality made children’s clothing, accessories, toys & home decor. Mainly smaller Australian and New Zealand designers and stockists – all carefully handpicked by us. Because everyone needs a little style.