I really wanted to get one more ‘How she does it‘ in for 2019 to end the year with a bit of inspiration ready for the New Year. As you know I love hearing the back story to beautiful women-led businesses and this one is no exception.
If you are looking for a little career pick-me-up for 2020 then read on.
Corinne hand illustrates the most adorable pictures (hello little bunny) for beautiful items from wallpaper, cushions, art prints and more including a recent addition of baby sleep suits.
In fact with Christmas just around the corner, you might want to have a little peruse of her products as I think they would make gorgeous presents for loved ones and little ones
Tell us about your businesses Bear and Beau?
Bear & Beau creates luxury home decor for kids. We offer contemporary designs inspired by the natural world for more joyful living and that compliment a stylish home for both children and adults to adore. We design and produce products that are proudly made in the UK whenever possible and the ethos of the business is environmentally conscious. The inks used in the printing process are water-based, which means they are non-toxic. All Wallpaper is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved and CE certified. Our cushions are filled with eco fibre pads made from recycled plastic bottles and we minimise the use of plastics in our packaging ensuring that the majority is recyclable.
What were you doing beforehand?
I worked in the creative industry for 20 years as an art director and head of design. At the creative agency I worked on premium accounts including Silvercross, Jo Malone and Burberry then moved to in-house roles.
What made you want to take a career change/set up your own business?
When my daughters were born in 2012 my life changed forever and my perspective on life changed too. My twin girls were born prematurely and sadly one of them, Betsy, died after five weeks. It was a difficult time but once out of hospital my daughter Grace flourished and eventually I returned to work at the creative agency where I had been for many years only to discover my job had been ‘restructured’.
A new job at a well known online marketplace led to award-winning work but after nearly four years the business radically changed, my time there came to a crossroads and I decided to look for a new challenge. Being suddenly free, I felt apprehensive about the future and I remember I began drawing and sketching animals to help lift my spirits. I had always loved drawing and painting animals and flowers as a child and had even sold some to school friends.
I knew that I had to take this opportunity to return to my creative roots and carve out a life where I could be there for my daughter more, especially when she started school. I decided to create a brand using my illustrations inspired by our mutual love for the natural world, whether it is bunnies at the petting zoo or being a little explorer and tracking down insects in the garden. I have always loved interiors and enjoyed creating room sets for children in my previous role.
What has been the greatest challenge so far?
Financially it’s hard starting out, especially when you are used to a regular salary. I get satisfaction from making small budgets work! Which is just as well really!
And the greatest success?
I feel very proud to have recently won a Junior Design Award for Best Children’s interior Brand, particularly as we only officially launched in January, I was delighted! We have also been fortunate to have received lots of press in premium titles and newspapers (such as Town & Country House, Enki, Living Etc, the Times, Telegraph). There really is a thrill seeing your product or comments in print.
What’s a ‘normal’ day for you?
It really does vary but usually I take my daughter to school then I go for a 30 minute swim or gym, I’m lucky there is one five minutes from our house. As I have a home studio its really important to get some sort of exercise mainly for my mental health too! I’m usually back at 9:30, then I’m preparing orders for delivery.
The rest of the day is admin, social media, content creation, liaising with interior designers etc. Then usually a mad dash to the school gate as I’m always cutting it fine – I always think I can fit just one more thing in!
We then have snacks and help my daughter with homework. After dinner I usually go back on the computer for an hour or so. Then maybe a Netflix series with my husband and the cats to relax, then bed!
What is your favourite part of your job?
Hearing from customers who are excited about our products. As well as the design process I love the photoshoots – I used to be an art director and my photographer and I get on well so we always have fun working together.
How do you stay productive, motivated and at the top of your game?
Exercise and meditation, though I must stress I do fall off the wagon and relapse but when I do both everything seems to fall into place. Also getting out and networking at events and meeting people is great especially as I work from home.
What do you think is the biggest driver in your success?
Focus, you have to live and breath it.
Do you have any tips for my readers who have their own business or are thinking of setting up their own business?
1. You always underestimate how much it costs to start up so if possible set up your business alongside a day job initially or put money aside each month to go into a pot.
2. Really establish what is going to make you unique or stand out as a business. If you are able to fill a gap or solve a problem or make things easier for your potential customers/audience then you are winning!
3. Work backwards. What sort of lifestyle do you want for you and your family? It’s different for everyone as we all have different priorities and circumstances it could be time to take children to or from school, enough money to cover bills and mortgage, time to travel. Write it all down and then establish how many products, services do you have to sell in order to achieve it. Then ask yourself if it’s viable! You may have to tweak till you get it right.
4. Most importantly you have to start somewhere, it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you are always learning and improving things along the way.
5. Take people on the journey with you, they will route for you if they have seen your progression.
AND JUST FOR FUN:
Favourite thing to do on a Sunday? A walk-in Nonsuch Park with the family followed by a hot chocolate or ice cream.
Favourite travel destination? Menorca; its a hidden gem. Quieter than its Balearic neighbours. We love exploring hidden beaches and enjoying tapas in the beautiful old towns of Cudidella and Mahon. We also love visiting more rural locations to there is a vineyard we visit every year which we just love!
Favourite way to relax? A candlelit bath or some meditation always makes me feel great, it’s just a case of finding the time to do it!
Favourite blog or Instagram account? There are so many to choose from: I have followed @greenandmustard since I started insta journey in 2017 so was super excited when they featured our grey little bunny wallpaper at Easter! I also love @Emma.merry.styling @design_soda_ruthie @juliaalexanderinteriors @clairetotmandesigns
Favourite flowers? There are a few depending on the season: Peonies, pale pink roses (Sweet Avalanche), Cherry Blossom, Ranunculus. Camelia, Hydrangea.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given? When your mind starts to race thinking about the past or worrying about the future bring yourself back to now ‘the present moment’ to calm and help refocus.
Also, just go for it, we can all procrastinate or wait for the perfect time but there is something to be said for just doing something!
Want to see more of Bear and Beau?
Hope you enjoyed reading that? I am smitten with all the bunny stuff and have one of the gorgeous little bunny sleep suits for Seb – we are just waiting for him to fill out into it!