When I found the online shop, The Lion Sparkles I felt like someone had heard my soul’s desire ….finally!!! ~ glittery ~ metallic ~ contemporary ~ gold ~ accessories!! And not just accessories for adults, but for children too! I have spent a few happy evenings trawling the site and contemplating all the things that I want to add to my wish list, and just how long away is my birthday. I have the gold metallic Roar necklace and always get compliments on it. It’s one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. When I found out the founder had five children (including a set of twins) and was pregnant with her sixth, I was even more intrigued. What drives her passion? How does she manage it all? What has she learnt on her journey? These are some of the questions I asked. Beth has dug deep and given very authentic and personal reasons. I thank her immensely for opening up and sharing her story. I think it’s both inspirational and insightful, let me know your thoughts.
My name is Beth and I own The Lion Sparkles. We’ve been in operation since September 2017 selling accessories for women and children. It’s an eclectic mix of quality pieces from small, new and niche designers and brands and an emerging own brand accessories range. Everything is bright, sparkly, metallics, glitter etc and colourful. It stands out.
What your dream for the business?
To be a 50% own brand and 50% other brand ‘showcase’ and ‘Go to’ store for the discerning women who loves to get noticed, stand out and feel amazing! For herself, family and friends.
Why and how you came up with the idea?
I came up with the idea a few years ago but was too scared to dive in. It was initially all about shoes as I LOVE SHOES but thought a physical store is the only way for shoes and I had no way I could open a physical store. I thought lifestyle store – these being incredibly popular but it’s just not me…I am glam it up girl with sequins glitter and colour wherever I can if I can, and sadly the rest of that lifestyle takes a backseat! I was so bored with what I was working on as a Freelance HR Consultant (people were always lovely but topics SO dry and sometimes upsetting..) and I’d just found out I was pregnant again so took some time out and really researched how, what, where to go about pulling this thing together and going for it. Accessories are just the bomb. It doesn’t matter the colour you wear, the size you are, whether its casual or formal, happy or sad there is always room for an accessory to express yourself, show a feeling or transmit an emotion and I just love that about them. So much can be said by the smallest thing. Accessories have impact and can make you stand out without you having to say a word. Yes people will judge but they will also take notice. The Lion Sparkles is representative of making an entrance wherever you are, and shining bright.
How you balance work and home life?
Really really hard but I think that’s the same as a working parent no matter what you do. I am currently pregnant with my sixth child and have a stepson, all under 9 years old and that forces challenges in just feeding everyone round a table let alone any other function of the day! We have a good routine in place but that never means it runs smoothly and I have Mum guilt at least 3 times a week as I try and be all things to everyone and mostly fail! Because you just can’t. My husband is hands on when he is not working especially with the bigger boys but he works 12 hours a day. We are very lucky to have an amazing Nanny who works with us 4 days a week and keeps me sane. I try and stick to working those 4 days but 90% of the time I do School pick up and inevitably there’s a doctor’s appointment (one of our sons has dreadful eczema and asthma) or the shopping to do, a list of bills to pay, someone fixing something… blah blah blah you know what I mean! So ultimately I start the week off with a monster TO DO list and do my best to get through it and probably do 3 days work on the business with smatterings across the other two days, and at the weekend whilst the boys play football or watch the telly, feeding the littlest ones snacks to keep them occupied whilst I do a quick email. But it’s the best way for me. I can be flexible and I being dedicated to making it work for the good of us all it all happens with not too many things falling out the bottom.
What has been the biggest challenge?
It’s all been a huge learning curve! I think working for yourself is particularly hard as you have to balance your own skills and abilities, with the cost of hiring other people for support and expertise, alongside always keeping in mind that you need to ensure customers are top priority and you make money. As with any job there are things that I find easy and others I struggle with and working in a company or with other people it’s a shared responsibility in many ways. In my own business it’s me, just me, down to me. I love the responsibility and freedom it brings actually, but it’s tough too! So, always making the right decision without wasting, time, money, or customers is the biggest challenge.
What does success mean to you?
It’s a mixed bag. Success to me means:
Achieving or exceeding what I set out to achieve
People loving what I do to the point they talk to other people about it
Being a positive role model for my children and inspiring them to take their opportunities seriously
Making enough money that means I can contribute properly financially to the family coffers and have some left over for my dreams.
These won’t all come at once & are made up of lots of little successes but these are the main goals of success for me.
What has been the biggest success ?
With the number of challenges being so high this does give room for a great amount of success too, even if they are small ones! The fact that I have people who love the collection of products, and identify with the brand is tremendously satisfying for me. I really want people to feel excited when they see the products, and share the buzz of excitement that I do when I find or design them and add them to the collection. Sadly, with it being an online store I don’t get to hear direct feedback that often, but I remember when I was at the Greenwich Festival at Christmas a woman walking up and into the stall and saying “Wow! So many sparkles in one location!” With a big smile on her face and it just made my day!
I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone on so many levels.
Setting up and attending Pop ups & festivals which I have found I love and am doing quite a few of in 2018;
Exceeding sales targets during the Christmas period;
Designing and producing my own accessories which I am only at the start of right now but is a massive success for me.
I have started a business which was a total flip of my old life and its working, it’s hard and not every day is rosy but it’s a living breathing business that makes people happy and stand out, that’s my biggest success.
Who’s your inspiration?
I have a bunch of people who inspire me.
My Dad is number one. He started a business from nothing, when I was small and it is a thriving business today and although he is no longer involved he continues to get into other projects and businesses as the whole prospect of entrepreneurship invigorates him and that has definitely rubbed off on me throughout my life.
I am a saddo but love social history and always admired Elizabeth I ! And I think if she did it then so can I – she had way more to contend with.
I have been very lucky in my life and truly the women who inspire me are those ordinary women in dreadful situations who manage to survive and raise a family and live at all. I am talking women living in poverty with no support whether in the UK or elsewhere, war zones such as Syria and Iraq, and those who have to cope with little or no resources in healthcare or live so far from everything like Venezuela and parts of many other countries. These are the women, people, who inspire me most. I can’t watch many news reports as I am a blubbing mess as I try and put myself in their shoes but I do read and I am aware. These women face true fear and have no choice than to be brave. If they can in their situations then I am damned if I am not gonna give what I want my all. (feel all emotional now!)
Is it important to buy from independent retailers?
It’s incredibly important to buy from independent retailers. There is certainly a place for large stores and I buy from them regularly but over 97% of UK businesses are small businesses and this is where the economy has the ability to thrive, innovate and have a positive effect on local communities. Independent retailers have a personal vested interest in what they do and you have the ability to directly influence product development and retailer growth. And they could be the future employer or inspiration for one of the members of your family or friends.
How can we (the readers) help you, can we tag you in our social media pictures?
I would love you to talk about my business and products, to do reviews, ask me to get involved in projects, collaborations and definitely tag me in social media pictures. I have found such a lovely group of people on social media and I totally love meeting in real life too. Visit me at Pop Ups and festivals and subscribe to my Newsletter which will be taking on a new shape from March. Keep in touch!
Do you wholesale?
I have just started to wholesale and this is going to be a growing part of the business in 2018 so if you’d like to see any of The Lion Sparkles brand in your local boutique let me know!
Find The Lion Sparkles at www.thelionsparkles.com