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We chat to Claire Lloyd, one half of the duo behind Tiny People and mama to Evie, 3 and Remy, 18 months, about running an ecommerce business, sustainability in the fashion industry, how her style has changed since having kids – and how she runs a successful brand while also juggling tantrums and the school run.

Tell us who you are and what do you do at Tiny People?

I’m the owner and one of two directors. I am responsible for buying – but as we’re a small team, I am involved in literally every aspect of the business, from packing orders to uploading products, to answering customer enquiries… absolutely everything you can imagine! Marketing, social media, everything.

You run Tiny People with your husband, Toby – what’s his role?

We’ve never really differentiated our roles, but I think we’ve just fallen into the parts that we’re more skilled at. He’s definitely better at all of the IT side, finding new marketing avenues, and customer service.

What does a typical day (if there is a such thing!) in your life look like?

I usually wake up around 6am with my 18-month-old, and then it’s just the normal morning mayhem of getting dressed, getting everyone breakfast, getting lunches made etc. if it’s a school day. Our 3-year-old goes to junior kindy at school three days a week, so if it’s a school day I’m doing the school run, and then home to start on Tiny People.

We then check all the emails that have come in overnight, reply to any customer emails and print out orders. If there’s a launch, we check that’s being managed and is going smoothly, then it’s packing orders, afternoon school run, then home to do some more orders, and then a few hours with the kids before bed time. After they’re in bed, depending on how busy we are, if it’s buying season or launches then it’s usually getting prepared for whatever’s happening the next day.

What do you love about working in the kids’ fashion space?

We see how important children’s fashion is to our own children, to our daughter in particular – she’s three now, so she has opinions about what she wants to wear! And we appreciate just how much fun they have with it, how they can express themselves, and I think that’s an important part of childhood to have. We’re all about celebrating childhood,and that’s our style with all our clothes, to be bright and fun and let them experiment and express themselves.

Beyond this, I’m passionate about fostering the Tiny People community as a likeminded tribe of mums, parents and families. We are in the process of launching a Tiny People Facebook group, which will be a spaceabout more than perhaps your latest purchases, but also a place for sharing advice, inspiration, or things that you might find cool locally to go and do and see. That’s something I can struggle with, thinking about where to take my children on the weekends, so I think that will be great to have a place where you can see what’s on, and share ideas. Eventually we will also post events, pop-up shops, sales, even community events and mum’s meet-ups in the Facebook group, so this is something I’m really excited about. Watch this space!

You and Toby are both passionate about sustainability in the fashion industry, and ensuring that Tiny People is run as sustainably as possible – how does this play out day-to-day?

Last year we switched to the biodegradable shipping packaging, which we use for as many of our orders as we can. We try to look to brands that are also implementing these measures. Some of our labels will now ship to us in biodegradable packaging, which we like to encourage everyone to do.

We also make sure that we only ever work with brands that, their processes are as sustainable as possible, that they are ethical, and their clothes are manufactured to the highest standards, from a humanity perspective as well as what’s being produced.

What are the biggest challenges of running an ecommerce store?

There’s so many. I think the importance of marketing doesn’t really get spoken about enough, but behind the scenes, the amount of time and effort that goes into that is huge.

And being able to communicate who you are without having that tactile element, you don’t have that physical store where people can actually come and see the colours that you’re going to put on the wall, the music or the sensory things, so being able to communicate that in different ways through your social media, the colours that you put on your website, and how you display your website, becomes paramount.

How did your career aspirations change after becoming a mother?

So, to rewind,I studied commerce at uni – I did an accounting and financial planning major. I then worked for an accounting firm for four years, then worked for an oil and gas company for 10 years in the finance department as financial controller.

I’ve always been quite driven throughout my career and wanted to achieve certain things, but that changed when I had children. When I went on maternity leave with my first child, I realised that going back to that role wasn’t going to quite work, because it was a lot of hours and a lot of travel. So I started to look at opportunities for something I could do from home.

I started my own online children’s boutique, but I realised fairly soon, just after I had my second child, that in order to be successful you needed to be on a much bigger scale. And then Tiny People came up as an opportunity to acquire, and that’s how we ended up with Tiny People.  

How do you wear both your ‘business owner’ and ‘mum’ hats at once? Any tips?!

I think everyone finds it difficult! I don’t think there’s any one-size-fits-all answer; I think that you just need to be flexible. And it really depends on what age and stage your kids are currently at, which is obviously constantly changing. I definitely work around my 18-month-old’s schedule, so when he’s sleeping I will get a lot more work done than when he’s awake. I prioritise making sure my children have been out and about, and done something during the day, mealtimes and things like that.

I find it’s still possible to work, I’ve got a good support network with my husband, so we are able to balance it between us, I think quite well, hopefully! I think having an outlet, which happens to also be a business, definitely makes me more balanced as a mum – I hope!

What do your family like to do together on the weekend?

I spend a lot of time at playgrounds, which I’ve learnt to love! In summertime we like to get to the beach as much as possible. And also going down to my family’s farm and just doing ‘farm stuff’.

How has your personal style changed since you became a mum?

It certainly has, I think out of necessity. I don’t think my wardrobe was so practical before! When you’ve got two under three, you can’t really avoid the sticky fingers, so it’s probably become a lot more pieces that can go in the washing machine. But I’m also definitely not a mum who likes to be in activewear all day, so I like to still put on my dresses, which now just have to go in the wash.

What would you say is the most joyful thing about being a mum?

I think how happy they always are to see you… When they wake up, you can’t really get any better than that. And it’s just fun. I think it’s the small things, those are pretty great. And the funny things they say.

What have you found to be the most challenging part?

Well, we’re in the toddler phase at the moment, so the tantrums can be a bit epic. I think it keeps changing – every phase you think, ‘This is so challenging’. It depends what phase you’re in. But sleep deprivation is always tough. And stubbornness! Just sheer exhaustion, it’s like nothing else.

What type of mother do you aspire to be?

It’s so cliché, but I probably aspire to be like my parents. They both always worked and probably instilled that work ethic in us. We were never bored – there was always something to do. I think if my children end up like that, then I’ll be quite happy. I’d like them to understand what it takes to work, and understand the world, but also to be able to occupy themselves.

I also look to other women who are balancing kids and also following their career path or their passion. I definitely look up to those women and how they’ve managed to achieve all that.

What does success mean to you?

That’s a good question – and a really hard one to answer. Probably something a lot different to what I thought it looked like 10 years ago! I think obviously being comfortable in your lifestyle financially – that to me is successful, as opposed to being wealthy. Working hard too and seeing what you’re working at come to fruition.And creating a beautiful, happy family environment for my beautiful children to grow up in – at the end of the day, that to me is success.