Meet Katie Barker, business woman, London resident and mum. After struggling to find teething jewellery that not only soothed her daughter but also looked fashionable – Katie decided to launch East London Baby Co. Born out of a genuine desire to create wearable, functional necklaces and bracelets she also discovered the benefits of working for herself in the process. The digital scene has helped launch her business and she is a great example of what we love at Social Butterflies – an entrepreneurial woman (who happens to be a mother).
Before Katie started her business she worked in digital media/advertising “working closely with clients and agencies to make sure their advertising campaigns reached their target audiences, helped to grow their brand presence and ultimately choose their brand over anyone else’s”. Although she loved her job the hours weren’t compatible with having a baby: “lots of client entertainment in the evenings!”. Working for herself has enabled Katie to achieve flexibility, creativity and autonomy “whilst being able to do something I really believe in. Win win!”.
The light bulb moment happened when her daughter Beatrix “gave me an especially mean pinch whilst breastfeeding”. Katie spent time researching breastfeeding/teething necklaces and couldn’t finding one that fulfilled the dual purpose of “distracting her/being great for teething and was something I really wanted to wear as a piece of jewellery”. Adding a bit of colour to an outfit is something we all desire when we are mostly wearing comfortable clothes. So after “much research, testing and designing” Katie launched the company.
The business is going from strength to strength and social media is helping to propel the brand. “Having seen the power of digital and social media in my previous work life, there was no doubt one of the first things I’d be doing would be working on getting a strong social presence – it’s how I find most of the things I buy. I’m a huge advocate for buying from independent businesses and the thriving Instagram business community is testament to the fact that lots of other people do too.”
Katie runs a monthly Instagram hashtag competition to find her favourite photos (#eastlondonbabyco). It a great way to create an online community and get people talking about the brand. “I am a huge believer that word of mouth or influencer marketing are the most powerful ways to grow your brand – when you see someone you admire or trust wearing something it can really influence you”. Seeing the products being used by real people is the best endorsement there is from a retailer’s perspective as it not only provides great publicity but it does so authentically. “I love seeing our wonderful customer pictures and they are one of the most important parts of our Instagram feed – seeing real mothers using our necklaces can help other mothers see how they might wear and use theirs.”
Style that works from ‘playground to pub’
“The necklaces and bracelets are designed to go with just about anything – our mantra from the beginning was ‘Playgroup to Pub’ – so they look as great with a sweatshirt as they do with something dressier. Several of our customers have told me they bought them despite not having teething babies – testament to them being just nice pieces of jewellery too.
I tend to wear mine with a jumper, Topshop jeans and Boob Design breastfeeding vest that’s my mum uniform!”
“I first encountered Cult of Youth whilst perusing stalls at the Word To The Mother market (a incredible market in East London that runs around holidays – Christmas/Mothers Day etc. launched by two mums to support local businesses) and spotted her incredible jewellery from a mile off. I was with baby and said baby had the mother of all meltdowns so I had to shoot off and have put her jewellery on my birthday list! Strong, inspiring, interesting and did I mention drop-dead gorgeous she’s a must-follow for mumpreneur inspiration.”
“Launched by super-mama Anna, Little Flea Kids fills my feed with beautiful photos of the best independent kids’ brands. She has an amazing eye and produces a GORGEOUS magazine several times a year that is always full of inspiration. She does a free online copy too – perfect for when the inbox gets a little much and you need a cup of tea and a break.”
“With a huge following and a penchant for small, independent brands, this mama does it all and is a massive inspiration for me. A midwife, author and mother-of-four – I don’t know how she does it! Her Instagram is super interesting, funny and very very real. I get loads of inspiration for clothes for me and things for baby and lots of laughs from her live feed.”
“East London Baby Co. designs and creates beautiful teething/feeding jewellery in on-trend colour combinations. The necklaces are safe for babies to chew, fiddle with and they help mamas accessorise and look great too. Designed specifically to draw the eye, the double-strand and different-sized/shaped beads give lots of interest for baby – and all colour-ways are tried, tested and baby-approved! Created to look like gorgeous double-stranded jewellery, they’ll easily take you from playgroup to pub! They come in a beautiful range of colours to suit everybody – the perfect present for yourself or a friend.”
Interview with Amy White