My girls are lucky to be brand representatives for Bella and Moo and you may have seen their gorgeous pieces in my instagram photos. In fact you've probably seen Bella and Moo products popping up regularly on your instagram feed! Bella and Moo, among other things, make divine pram liners, playmats, bibs and burp cloths. I first met Michaela Lyons, owner of Bella and Moo when I purchased Millie a pram liner (I just love the idea of 'personalising' your pram!). I recently spoke to her about the growth of her business and where to from here. Michaela is also the mum of two gorgeous girls, with a third bub on the way, and has plenty to keep her busy!
How did Bella and Moo get started and what was your inspiration to start it?
Bella and Moo started a long time before I even realised. I have always had the dream and inspiration to do my own business. What that was though didn't really come into play until I had my own children! The focus was always on babies and motherhood - but originally that was focussed in the medical arena in pregnancy and babies, as my background is actually in the medical/science field.
When my first daughter Isabella was born the passion grew even more for the want to be at home with my children and not return to a job I wasn't fulfilled in. I loved baby products, brands and started developing an insane love for fabric. I had always been arty but fabric just seemed to grab me. Bit by bit I started purchasing fabric I saw and 'had' to have because it was just so beautiful (I seriously had no idea what for though). It was one day that I was in a fabric store and I think I had a piece of fabric draped over the pram while I was tending to Bella and became inspired that this might be the way that I could bring these beautiful colours and fabrics to others. At the time, the only pram liners that existed were stripes, spots, stars and plain colours - and all universal fitting ones. I had a lightning bolt moment, and thought that surely if I thought that there weren't pram liners out there that I would be happy to put on my pram, maybe others felt the same. Bella and Moo was born.
What is the inspiration behind the name Bella and Moo?
Bella - of course from my first daughter Bella. Moo - well, my nickname has always been Miccy Moo so its a part for me and part for my second daughter Sophia. At the time we were playing around with names, she was learning her animal sounds. Any animal we said 'what does ? make...she responded with 'Moooo'. She thought it was hilarious and so we thought Moo was a good part of me and her. I'm not sure what I'm going to tell out third bubba (on the way) about their contribution (or lack thereof) to the name! Ha!
What is the best thing about running your own business?
There is nothing better then when people love your product, fabrics and service. Seeing my products out and about is also very cool.
And the hardest?
Having to be everything to everyone. I think I was a little naive in going into the business thinking 'yes it would be nice to have something of my own'. Within 6 months I was in way over my head with the amount of business I was generating. In this sense it is very easy to fall into the trap of not wanting to let your customers down. I've never worked harder in my life! When it's your 'baby' you put in insane hours as for the most part you are the creator, the administration, the accounts department, the business generator, the social media person, the supplies orderer, the fabric cutter, the photographer and problem solver. I love it but it certainly is challenging, And that's not even getting into being a mum as well!
And of course at the moment I have my own little challenge of growing a little bubba and being incredibly sick! I'm now 21 weeks and have been sick since I found out I was pregnant, seeing me in hospital a few times. This has definitely been the hardest thing to date as I'm finding it hard to be able to run my business at the level and effectiveness as I would like it to be running. Luckily I have some very understanding customers!
How do you juggle your family and the business?
Organisation is definitely the key (both with the business and the kids). For me that means getting this start off on the right foot in the mornings. Bags are packed the night before, lunches organised as much as they can be and clothing all set out for the next day to avoid those 'I can't choose what I want to wear sagas' from my 4 year old! There is no tv in the mornings until literally everything is done and the kids are ready to walk out the door (hair and teeth brushing included). If they are totally ready they can turn the tv on. Meal preparation is also key for me.
My kids are pretty resilient and understand that I work from home for a reason. It's not strange that they will have a night time car trip to the post box or business centre to do a postal drop with me to get orders out. I just try to make it fun where I can!
What is your proudest moment to date?
Here are three: being chosen to be a product showcased in LittleOne Baby Magazine - one of my favourite mags; having Bella and Moo's photograph published in UK Harpers Bazaar and when people I idolise and respect for their sense of style place an order for one of my products.
What's next for Bella and Moo?
Things are moving very quickly for Bella and Moo as each month goes by. With increasing orders and me driving the business forward to cope for the upcoming christmas season (when I will have a new baby! Eek! Timing not so great!). It sounds scary focussing on Christmas already but as I will have a newborn it is all action stations here to prepare for that time. I can't wait to share some of the new fabrics with you all - we have a whole new range coming through and I know you are going to love them! There are some new products on the horizon too. And potentially some store presense in the next 6-12 months! And of course after getting through the Christmas season, enjoying some lovely family time in January.
Outside of Bella and Moo what products or trends are you loving at the moment?
Monochrome and colours of the seasons. I love drawing inspiration from the interiors and fashion scene into what we do at Bella and Moo.
Thank you for your time Michaela! I can speak from experience when I say Bella and Moo's products and service are amazing. Check out @bellaandmoo on instagram and their website www.bellaandmoo.com