Elle + Bee - Small Shop Feature

Hey all, I am Candy and welcome to Elle + Bee!

A little bit about me, the face behind Elle + Bee, me and my husband Stefan live in Nottingham and have a little lady (I use the term lady loosely) Lyra who is nearly 3 years old and have a little boy on the way who is due in early October! We have a team of rescue pets that we have acquired over my 10 years working at a Veterinary Practice, an 8 year old cat Capone, a 7 year old dog Parker and a 3 year old house rabbit Oswald <3.

Elle + Bee is my business baby, only opening in February 2019! It is the home of eco-friendly, natural and sustainable wooden toys, stained using 100% natural food based stains and varnish. We have a colour range to suit any taste from rainbow, monochrome, to natural wood shades, your own colour combination and now pastels.

It all began when I was on maternity leave with Lyra, I had always known that I didn't want lots of plastic toys for her so concentrated on finding wooden ones where we could. I have always loved painting, drawing, art etc and was brought up around it with two arty parents and thought after seeing the wooden toys on offer (though I didn't have any idea of the huge range that actually is available back then) I realised that this is something I could do for Lyra, my Mum has always told me throughout my life when I buy something arty or crafty that 'you could make that yourself' so this time I decided to give it a go.

From painting toys and décor for Lyra I received requests from friends who were requesting I paint items for their children and they were wanting to pay for this!! I couldn't believe it!! It was actually through their encouragement that I opened up an Instagram and Etsy shop which I ran for nearly 2 years until I realised something wasn't right. I felt I had lost sight of why I started, to make natural, original toys as I found myself painting more and more children's cartoon and film characters. This is when I decided to relaunch completely and start as I mean to go on and this is how Elle + Bee was born! The desire to reduce the amount of plastic in the world and to help others do the same whilst also helping the development of their little ones!!

The name Elle + Bee is a personal one to me, Elle was the nickname my Dad (who died when I was 18) gave to my Mum when they were younger and is now Lyra's middle name and Bee is my sister Brodie's nickname! My family mean the world to me!

My proudest achievement is definitely getting my first order! Someone I didn't know actually wanted to pay for my item from this new venture! Getting a new order and receiving positive feedback about my work still gives me butterflies!

At the start of Elle + Bee we did a search for product testers, this is something I would recommend for any start up, and from the search, two people received one of our items, for free, in exchange for some quality photographs and honest feedback. I received some constructive criticism which really helped me to improve and some amazing photos and I am so thankful for that.

If I started all over again I would pay more attention to the finer details from the start and get myself happy and confident with all the aspects of the business before I launched, from products to packaging. I feel I jumped the gun too much because I got excited!

Going forward I would love to expand my range to have more products, including smaller ones, eg loose parts and shapes, that are even more affordable. Any recommendations of things you would like to see us do would be really welcome as it is you guys that I love doing this for!

And finally, my favourite part of Elle + Belle is the amazing friends I have made! I literally cannot imagine not talking to them every day now, they are the most amazing support, personally and with Elle + Bee, I owe them so much, they've kept me sane!

Why not go and check us out on Facebook and Instagram? Give our Etsy a browse, link on our social media pages, and if you fancy buying something, grab yourself 10% off with BLOG10.

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