Interview with My Child Magazine
Founders of Bella Buttercup, Jaimee Masters and Chloe Blanchette (32 years) are design enthusiasts, best friends and business partners. Having known each other for over half of their lives now they have been through many of life’s milestone moments together, which eventually resulted in them building a business together. Initially Jaimee was living in London and with a brief trip home to New Zealand whilst awaiting a visa, found herself with a lot of free time on her hands. With a background in fashion design she put her skills to use and designed and handmade a gift for a pregnant friend who was having her baby shower. This then became the first version of their opening product, the Baby Bundle. The few months spent back home patiently awaiting her return to London meant word started to spread and by the time she left she had her first order for an online store. Days were spent sewing trying to fulfil the order right up until the moment she left to get back on the plane to London. From that moment, she knew she had an idea on her hands worth pursuing, but with a return to the UK and a job in the Fashion Industry already secured it was a few years before Bella Buttercup would fully come to fruition.
Being best friends meant that naturally after Chloe had gotten engaged in New York, she popped across to London for Champagne and celebrations with Jaimee and with the exciting task of asking her to be her bridesmaid. The two girls spent many a day together exploring the delights that London had to offer and one-day found themselves wandering through Notting Hill discussing their future and plans, that’s when they discovered the shared desire to build a business. Chloe an Interior Design graduate, was already developing a business plan for a very different venture, but from that moment a penny dropped and both ladies knew they could work together to turn the Bella Buttercup concept into a fully-fledged business. The first six months was spent learning a lot about how to manufacture a product from the first stages onward, Chloe and her husband travelled overseas armed with handmade samples and went and met with suppliers and manufacturers who thought they could produce the perfect product to allow them to sell to a wider audience and meet the demand for the product.
A supplier was found and Jaimee then took a trip to Australia where herself and Chloe could work together on their first project, this involved choosing colour palettes for the Baby Bundles and creating a look book to send out to stockists. This was the first experience of what it would be like for the duo to work together and they both loved every minute of it. At that time, Chloe was pregnant so the two were venturing into rather unknown waters, with little knowledge of parenthood behind them. But they were both armed with determination to succeed and a strong business concept that was quickly turning into a reality. Within four months of visiting Chloe in Melbourne, Jaimee had packed up her things and moved there, which allowed them to work together more easily on Bella Buttercup. When they first started the business, Chloe worked part time in another company and Jaimee full time elsewhere. This meant that both entrepreneurs had to quickly learn how to juggle a small business on top of their already busy lifestyles. With the first drop of stock arriving close to her due date, Chloe could not stop and take the rest that a pregnant woman should, being so busy trying to bring Bella Buttercup into the world at the same time as her own baby.
These days the ladies have progressed from the original Baby Bundle and now have developed many more products which have broadened the collection. Many of these products are now inspired by Chloe’s little girl Eva who is now three years old. Through being a mother Chloe often see’s products currently on the market that she feels they can improve upon, hence a new product idea is born. The three words they believe describe their style are ‘Scandinavian, delicate and luxurious’. Classic styling, high quality materials and affordability are the hallmarks of Bella Buttercup’s beautiful, functional pieces. The range now includes everything from play bars to change pad covers, pram liners, nappy clutches, wooden and silicon toys. Such style and functionality reflect contemporary trends while maintaining a timeless quality that gives each piece heirloom status.
Jaimee and Chloe’s experience in the fashion, interior design and the retail industry has proved invaluable when it came to sound strategic planning that saw the business flourish and expand. Both are actively creative and ‘like to share roles of design, product development, sales and marketing. They collaborate on ideas related to brand identity, day-to-day logistics, relevant markets and strategic direction. The support they have for each other is noticeably fierce. ‘We treat our partnership like a relationship- you need to it nurture it, make time for each other and talk through ideas regularly and always ensure to have a lot of communication.’ A lot of what they do has also been self-taught from sourcing suppliers and getting sample through to photography for the collections and approaching wholesale stockists alongside selling on their own website. At times throughout the last two years they have recruited a business mentor to help them to think differently about the next steps and how to overcome certain hurdles that many small businesses encounter.
Bella Buttercups fast growth and development as a brand has again seen a change of rhythm for each of their lifestyles more recently. They are both well practiced in the art juggling jobs and having the strength to move forward even when it feels hard. ‘Don’t wait for opportunity, create it!’ says Chloe. Being a mother and having a business has been trying at times, however Chloe states that whilst she is still trying to work out the art of balancing work and motherhood, it’s always important to remain kind to yourself. ‘Our days never go to plan so I suggest a more casual plan and be happy with what you do to get done,’ says Chloe. I do try and manage work and motherhood by keeping being a mum as just that, and then work as work. There are some cross overs but I’ve learnt that I’d rather Eva see me working hard at what I love and hope that in the future she does understand what it is all for.’
Things of course have become easier as time has gone on. Now into their fourth year of business they have been able to take on more permanent roles within the company, Chloe in more of a fulltime capacity, alongside being a mum, and Jaimee now working on Bella Buttercup next to her part time job (rather than still being fulltime last year). One of the best things they say is ‘having the flexibility as a business owner to work around our lifestyles and family commitments’. Chloe still manages to have two days spent with Eva during the week and makes work fit in alongside that. Its clear family values are important to them both as well as adopting a new-age approach to business that allows for flexibility and an honest approach to what is important in life. When the girls do find that things get busy and sometimes stressful they like to remind each other of their favourite mantra ‘Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses’. They are both sometimes all too aware of how easy it can be to forget to enjoy the success of what they have managed to achieve in both the business and their lives so far.
Heralded as one of Australia’s most revered baby and children’s brands, the brand celebrates a curation of Scandinavian-inspired Playbars, dollhouses, accessories and décor, as well as a soft quilted collection of pram liners and change table covers. Each of the girls were passionate about creating creative and modern spaces where children (and their dreams) can grow and so the brand captures a sense of Love. Life and Luxury. All decor is fresh and contemporary and helps to modernise a nursery, and at the same time complement, (and flow harmoniously) with the balance of the home. ‘It is of the upmost importance to us that we create products which are both stylish and functional’. Cleverly, the Play Space and Little Space change mats both contain a water-resistant layer, which helps to stop spills ruining floors as well as creating a barrier for baby when used on damp surfaces such as sand and grass. Often, when designing they are looking at what technology they can incorporate together with high quality fabrics to create a superior functioning product. And of course, with backgrounds in fashion and interior design it is necessary that the products are aesthetically pleasing and can work back beautifully within the home environment.
The girls at Bella Buttercup have produced a suite of treasures for all your decoration and gifting needs. It’s a business born from an appreciation of colour, craftsmanship, form and above all functionality to produce a treasure-trove of baby-décor that delivers effortless but well-considered style to your sweetie’s space.
And, what does 2017 hold for Bella Buttercup? The duo team have a creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit and in 2017 have plans to keep bringing exciting new items to the market. The success of the Play Bar and toy collection means that they will be working on further expanding their toy range. ‘We have found that parents love that our Play Bar is a stylish feature within the home and that the toys can be interchanged as their baby’s development needs grow and evolve’. They also state that there has been a return to parents wanting more natural toys for their children such as those available in their wooden range, ‘There has been a definite move towards eco-friendly and natural baby products rather than the disposable plastics that have been at the forefront over the last few decades’. ‘Parents like the idea of a more aesthetically simple product, which requires the use of imagination from their child through exploration and play’. They are also working on the development of a ‘Build Your Own Play Bar’ set to become available on the website, this would allow customers get to go through different stages of choosing their preferred bar itself, toys and accompanying mat and trial virtually to view different colour combinations.
In January 2017 they are also excitedly launching two new colours to the Bella Buttercup Quilted Collection. They have found that there is a want for baby products that are not just the typical baby colours, but are design pieces that mum and dad can appreciate and want to leave out in the home. Keeping within that ethos, the two new colours are a sophisticated palette featuring the likes of Marl Greys and Natural with a pop of vibrant Midnight Blue. They also have a new line which is also launching in late January as part of the popular Quilted Collection, this is still top secret and is yet to be announced, watch this space!