Come meet Lisa Porter of Little Lou Lou in the heart of Queensland and be inspired by a woman who is stepping out of her comfort zone and growing a flourishing online business all about textiles, children's clothing and colour!
Tell us a little about yourself; what’s the day to day life like for a small business owner of Little Lou Lou and who makes up the team?
I am a 29 year old mother of one with a passion for handmade and the simple things in life. I love to create, read, bake and eat cupcakes, though not necessarily in that order. Before Little Lou Lou I was studying psychology and counseling at university.
A day in the life of Little Lou Lou usually involves the largest mug of coffee that I can find, a rush to get my little one to school on time and then many hours in front of the computer and sewing machine.
I spend just as much time fielding emails and looking after our Facebook page and searching for the perfect supplies as I do creating. Regardless of how busy my day is, creating and sharing a meal with my family is a priority, while many evenings are spent wrapping pretty little parcels in front of the television.
What inspires you, that encourages you to reach out and make things happen?
I am an eternal pleasure seeker! The very act of being in amongst all of my favourite fabrics and trims gets the creative juices flowing. I am inspired to create by colours and textures, and by the creative powers of my favourite fabric designers. I truly do work for the love of the craft.
I am encouraged to keep motivated and productive by my family, I would happily create for free but after being a student for so long I am happy to be contributing in my own way to my family's lifestyle.
Stylistically I am inspired by Rachel Ashwell, the original shabby chic empress. I first discovered the shabby chic concept late one night feeding my daughter. I was enchanted by her use of pretty florals, ruffles and just a hint of bling.
What do you enjoy most about the running Little Lou Lou?
Freedom! I enjoy making my own hours that suit my family and being my own boss. I love that I finally have a creative outlet that my soul was longing for so long. I enjoy the sense of achievement and pride I get from knowing that I created my sweet little label for myself and my family and being home for my daughter (and husband) when they need me.
What’s been the hardest part or experience you’re had since starting the business?
There are a number of challenges I have faced since starting Little Lou Lou. On a personal level I struggle with perfectionist tendencies and I think this stifles my creativity sometimes.
I tend to stick within my comfort zone sometimes for fear of failure and shy away from risks. I constantly need to remind myself that my best is good enough!
As our little biz grows it becomes more difficult to keep a good work/life balance. Sometimes I feel a little too "plugged in" and often check my emails from my iPhone in bed and hit the ground running in the morning. It is also easy to get carried away and caught up in what the 'competition' is doing, It is important to stay true to yourself and stay focused on your own dreams and goals however modest they may seem in comparison.
What’s been the best thing for the business that you just stumbled upon?
Social Media! I genuinely wonder if I would have ever got started without the help of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. In this technologically driven day and age these mostly free resources are invaluable.
What do you think has been the most successful promotional activities you’ve explored to getting the word out about Little Lou Lou?
In the very early days I prioritised social networking activities and spent a lot of time developing relationships with other small business owners and utilising free promotional avenues like 'Crafty Mummas' and The Mummy Tree Network.
These days I find that our business grows more organically through word of mouth and I don't spend a lot of time actively promoting Little Lou Lou. I do always make sure I add our business cards to our parcels and I am always surprised to hear where people are finding them! I am so grateful to my fabulous customers and peers for taking the time to spread the word about Little Lou Lou.
You have a flourishing number of followers on Facebook – what do you think has been the best way of getting your name out there on Facebook?
I often get asked this question and it's a really difficult one to answer. I'm not sure what the 'magic Facebook formula' is, but being genuine, congruent and active in the handmade online community is what has worked for me. I am less concerned with increasing the number of Facebook followers, than I am committed to keeping the existing ones happy.
I have always wanted my Facebook page to be an aesthetically pleasing and positive place to land for a prospective customer. There is nothing worse than landing on a page for the first time and stumbling across rudeness, negativity or otherwise inappropriate posts. Nothing makes me head for the 'unlike' button quicker than some long winded,unprofessional rant that makes most people feel uncomfortable.
I think the way you conduct yourself on your page sets the atmosphere and climate for customer interaction also. Some pages have an almost Jerry Springer-esque quality about them which whilst utterly entertaining, is not necessarily the kind of reputation you want to create for your brand. I like my page to be warm and friendly but the line between personal and unprofessional is a very thin one indeed.
What do you think been a really important regular activity with your social media that’s helped you grow?
I think just keeping your social media presence active, relevant (to your particular market) and interesting whether this be your Facebook page, blog, Twitter account etc.
What are the hopes and plans for Little Lou Lou this year?
This year I would love to increase my productivity, work smarter rather than harder and be able to serve more Little Lou Lou customers. I would really love to be able to keep up with our enthusiastic customers-there never seems to be enough ruffles to go around!
We are heading towards our first birthday and I am planning a celebration on our Facebook page. We have recently undergone a brand makeover which was very exciting, and started a new blog which I would like to spend more time on. Our next plan is to have our own, fully customised stand alone website.
What would be your top 5 tips you’d give to someone starting out?
1. Have the courage to be yourself and have faith in your own ideas, creativity and style rather than trying to be like somebody else.
2. Treat your customers well and they will keep coming back! Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.
3. Research the market and find what is missing. You can't be the best at everything so find out what other businesses are lacking and focus your attention on that area. This could be customer service, custom orders, a unique product etc.
4. Value your relationships with your peers, you really don't need to trample over others to get ahead. When you treat your peers with respect you would be surprised how much they are willing to help you and your little Biz. We are never as strong individually as when we work together.
5. Create what makes your heart sing, with no compromise! When you love what you do it really shows in your work!
Meet Lisa Porter of Little Lou Lou
Check Out These Articles!