PV Meets: LoLA
ParentVille Parties meets creative Mama’s Alara and Selina; the founders of Children Creative Art Boxes LoLA. Today, they share with how they got started and their tips to running a successful creative business. Prepare to be inspired.
Tell us a little about yourself?
We are creative mamas and sisters-in-law, and started LoLA boxes through a belief that process-based artist-inspired experiences are an important way for children to develop problem-solving skills, analytical thinking and confidence. Alara has been teaching art for over 15 years and is the magic behind LoLA, creating wonderful art projects inspired by real artists. I am a designer and have managed to put that magic into a box along with clear instructions, illustrations and recommendations for related books and art trips.
What inspired your idea for your business?
As mums, we naturally have lots of chats together about children and growing up whilst thinking of creative things to do with our kids. When Alara moved back to England after having a creative LoLA space for children in Istanbul (for over 12 years!), it was quite natural for us to talk about how LoLA and inspiring art projects for children could be brought to the UK. Rather than being limited to only 10 children coming to a workshop, we wanted to support creativity in children in a bigger way, and reach children all over the UK (and the world!) so that can they be independently creative at home and have an awareness of both old and new artists’ work.
What were your challenges & how did you overcome them?
We first had the idea of LoLA boxes in October 2018, and then realised the best time to launch it would be at Christmas, so we only had a couple of months to create a product! Luckily as an experienced graphic designer, I was able to create the printed materials, branding and leaflets while Alara sourced the best art supplies. We drove our newly created boxes stacked up in our cars to the Babyccino Christmas fair in the hope that we would sell at least some, but after a frantic two months, not really knowing if we would sell any! We were so lucky to have such an amazing response, we sold out of our first box! Once we had felt the jubilation, it dawned on us this would be a monthly process with a new art theme coming out each month! So then the challenge was to hunker down and plan the whole year of 2019 with 12 exciting art themes, which bring together 36 artists and work, with varied art materials.
What has been your biggest success so far?
The best bit of our day is when we see the children’s art created from LoLA projects, and the responses to the boxes through messages from parents. It is indescribably rewarding. I think Alara and I would differ on what ‘success’ means… After having so much experience with children’s’ brands, Alara has been having fantastic chats with amazing leading figures in the art and education world about how important creativity is for children and some big names have responded positively. For me, we have been approached by a museum to create a bespoke box (in the pipeline so its hushhush at the moment) and that is a real moment for us both.
How do you juggle motherhood/personal life/family life and your business?
As every working mother knows, it is certainly a juggle! Its important for us to take moments to talk about how we want the business to run and our lives to work. We try to set boundaries (and stick to them), but we have to admit, running your own business is quite obsessive and we talk at all hours of the day!
How do you find time to relax while not working?
I would say Alara and I lucky to have found kindred spirits in that we are people who multi-task and like to get things done. As do-ers, we both find it hard to switch off. Being with our children and giving them our full attention is the one thing that will pull us fully out of work mode and we’re lucky to have very supportive families. On our ‘downtime’ we love to take our children to lots of different art exhibitions – although we ARE taking mental notes about the exhibition so we can put it in the ‘LoLA recommends’ section ;), these are really enjoyable experiences where we can enjoy family time with a bit of culture!
What is your top tips for starting a small business?
If you have a small business idea, ask yourself ‘who are we and what do we do’? If you can sum this up into a short sentence and communicate it clearly, it goes a long way. We also think its important to stay true to your ideals. We have had lots of feedback on the quality of our art supplies, and even though we could have chosen a cheaper option, we really want children to be proud of the great colour in their artwork and part of that is using quality materials.
If you could invite a special guest to an event who would it be?
Holly Tucker. We are slightly obsessed with her and have enjoyed following her ‘kidpreneur’ celebration at the Holly&Co shop!
Find out more about LoLA boxes here