Parenting

Friends who invested £2k each in business as lockdown hit now turn over £41k a week


Laura McBride and Laura Boswell who launched a business in lockdown (Picture: BabyChum)

Spotting a gap in the market after the closure of stores like Mothercare and Mamas & Papas, friends Laura McBride, 30, and Laura Boswell, 30, decided to launch an online gift business.

The pair, who had been friends for 10 years, were set to announce the venture in April 2020.

But just weeks before, the country was plunged into lockdown.

Despite the difficulties of the last year, they took the £2000 each they invested from their personal savings, and now turn over £41,000 a week.

BabyChum – a curated marketplace selling gifts for parents and children – has a host of celebrity fans, including Stacey Solomon, Danielle Armstrong and Charley Webb.

Not only has it helped them, but it’s also given 450 sellers, including mums who have been furloughed, by giving them a platform to sell their unique products, ranging from £1.20 to £6,500.

This week, BabyChum started supplying Harrods with the London store’s first luxury gold leaf toy box, costing £2,199.

Laura Boswell said: ‘It’s been such a roller coaster year for us and we’ve been working every hour under the sun. 

‘There have been huge emotional highs and lows! We decided to go ahead with launching BabyChum in April 2020, just weeks after lockdown had been announced – and it was definitely the right decision.

‘We launched with just 300 products and just a handful of sellers. Now, just one year on, we’re up to more than 2,400 products and more than 463 sellers.

‘Not only does BabyChum sell personalised gifts, nursery furniture and decor, but we also provide baby essentials like eco-friendly cloth nappies and weaning plates.’

Laura McBride added: ‘Every time a person orders from us, they are not only supporting BabyChum but lots of independent sellers who started their business during a pandemic; who juggle parenthood on top of processing and packaging orders; who wanted to start a little side business to find their sense of fulfilment in this crazy world. 

Laura and Laura with Ferne McCann (Picture: BabyChum)

‘They are supporting people’s livelihood and dreams and there is so much to be said for that.’

Laura and Laura were both working as virtual PAs when they started planning for the launch of BabyChum in early 2020.

They invested £4,000 on web design and social media posts, while they both worked hard to find quality independent sellers.

After having her daughter Rosie in 2017, Laura McBride set up a Facebook support page called ParentChum for other mums on Instagram, and the network was helpful for creating the business.

Laura Boswell said: ‘Every seller we found was through social media. We already had some small businesses owners following us on ParentChum, and others we found on Facebook and Instagram.

‘It felt great to be finding these incredible businesses, and to be giving them a platform to showcase and sell their goods, before they were well known. They really are part of our brand now.

‘The best part about BabyChum is that we don’t charge any signing-on fees, or listing fees, we simply take a flat-rate commission on each order (product cost only) – which means our sellers have clarity of costs up front.

‘We also don’t charge for social media marketing, PR or any other types of promotion which means our sellers can get a substantial amount of exposure at a competitive commission rate.’

The pair with some of the items available on their platform (Picture: BabyChum)

But with the launch set for April 2020, the pair were worried when the pandemic hit. After consulting their advertising agency, Laura and Laura decided to press ahead.

Laura Boswell said ‘We’d given up everything really to get BabyChum off the ground, well-paid jobs, our social lives, literally everything. 

‘So we were worried as there was a lot at risk, but we were also so passionate about the brand and knew if we put in the work we’d see the rewards at some point – knowing that great things take time and patience,  we were willing to do what we needed to, to get our businesses where we needed it to be.’

Two weeks after launching, the site had already turned over £20,000, with more and more people shopping online.

In June 2020, the women approached Towie star Ferne McCann about collaborating on a kids’ clothing collection, which was launched in November.

Laura McBride said: ‘The Ferne collection was a huge success for our first ever celebrity collection, we had about 2,000 followers on Instagram which then flew up to 26,000, as well as selling thousands of units across the whole range. 

The toy box they are selling to Harrods (Picture: Babychum)

‘Sam Faiers took a photo of her little girl Rosie wearing one of our pink ‘HAPPY’ tracksuits from the Ferne collection and posted it on her Instagram grid and we pretty much sold out.

‘Working with Ferne was a huge step forward for the business and one that got us seen on a large scale.’

It saw their social media followers soar to 29,400 on Instagram and 6,600 on TikTok.

After the last year, they hope to take the business from strength to strength.

Laura McBride added: ‘As a parent when you’re tired you want convenience.

‘We wanted to create a place where an auntie, uncle, godmother or godfather could go to, to find a lovely baby gift – you don’t have to be a parent to shop with us, especially with our selection of diverse products like artificial flowers, chocolates, skincare. They are all items that can be purchased by anyone.

‘We also have a lot of men customers too, which we’re very happy about.

‘The aim for BabyChum is for it to eventually become a complete one-stop shop for gifts as well as practical items like prams, bottles, nappies.’

Laura Boswell added: ‘We are nowhere near where we want to be yet, and know this is going to be years of hard hard work, that said we know with the support of our friends, family and loyal customers we will get there. 

‘So the next time you think about going to Amazon for your next gift, come and shop with us. 

‘No, admittedly, you won’t get your order on your doorstep within 24 hours but you will have supported a working mum or dad, a start-up finding their feet in business, or you’ll just be fulfilling someone’s dream of becoming a successful online store owner.’

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Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


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