ParentVille Parties meets Louisa; the founder of Truly Scrumptious, a leading supplier of bespoke fabric drawstring party bags for for children’s party. Today, Louisa shares how she got started and her tips to running a successful creative business. Prepare to be inspired.
Tells us a little bit about yourself
My name is Louisa, wife to Dan and Mummy to Miles & Amelia.
Before having children, I trained as a Norland Nanny with a Montessori qualification. I have worked for some amazing families, both in the UK & high profile personalities living abroad. In both my ‘Mummy and Nanny’ roles I have loved planning wonderful, memorable parties for children of all ages, with many different themes.
Truly Scrumptious Party Bags began with my own children’s parties. I didn’t want to send their friends home with plastic bags filled with “cheap and cheerful junk” that was likely to go straight into the bin, when the children weren’t looking. (Come on we’ve all done it!) That inspired me to start making fabric, drawstring bags that my children would enjoy handing out to their friends, as a special thank you for coming to their party. Something that is lovely to cherish as part of the party favour, and a unique way to round off a memorable occasion. My bags are lovingly made by myself, at home, and are also eco – friendly. They can be used over and over again afterwards, for hair clips, lego, marbles, pencils, dolls-clothes, cars or magic tricks. The useful options are endless!!
I frequently use them, filled with ‘entertainments’ for trips to restaurants or even long haul flights!
My training as a professional nanny had a particular focus on ‘high quality results and attention to detail.’ I have continued to apply these values, every time I design and produce these unique party bags.
Some of the most prestigious party planning companies in the UK, now regularly work with me, to tailor party bags for their clients, globally.
Most importantly I love what I do and hope you do too!
What inspired the concept for your business?
I didn’t want to hand out plastic bags filled with tat that went straight into the bin once everyone got home after my children’s parties. So I made some little drawstring bags for my son Miles’ sports party when he was turning 5. The boys had blue bags pattered with white stars & the girls a pretty floral bag. The children loved them & parents thought they were a great new idea. So a few friends encouraged me to do something with it. The idea then grew & grew organically from my kitchen table!
When starting did you have challenges & how did you overcome them?
Oh yes! And I still do have challenges. I learn from my mistakes & am always looking for ways to improve. I welcome constructive feedback from customers too. My first mistake was a very cheap sewing machine, which I quickly realised had to go & be replaced with a good sturdy workhorse!
I also started by using the appliqué method to put the images & text onto the party bags. That was fiddly & time consuming! It’s been great to rise to the challenges & overcome them with better ways of completing my orders.
What has been your biggest success so far?
To be honest, the whole concept of Truly Scrumptious being a success & still growing makes me feel so proud. I struggled with dyslexia at school & don’t have any background in running a small business.
Apart from that I’ve been lucky enough to make hundreds of lovely families party bags (many of whom are repeat customers) along with supplying top party planners. It’s always a pleasure to donate bags or proceeds from orders to charities. It’s nice to give back a little occasionally.
Having lived with & worked for Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta Jones it’s always exciting to make bags for celebrities too. I think the biggest ‘eeeeeek’ moment was when I made Elton Johns sons party bags not long ago. (That happy little dance went on for quite a while!!)
How do you juggle motherhood, family life, and your business?
Gosh it really is a juggling act, especially during school holidays! I feel so lucky to be able to work from home & be there for my children. Being able to support them weekly in school matches, attending concerts whilst working too. but the downside is that I’m always working! I take work with me everywhere I go…sitting waiting at gymnastics, dancing, or cricket after school clubs I’m there peeling names, images, cutting ribbons & cords or updating social medial & replying to emails. My husband is so patient but does get a bit fed up when I’ve got fabric, threads, vinyl, and equipment spread out over the kitchen table, spare room & office!
I always make sure once I’m home from the school run that I do the washing, dishwasher, hoovering & general family tidying g up before I start my Truly Scrumptious work. I then break mid morning for a lovely dog walk & try to clear my head (although I’m often frantically replying to enquiries or placing materials orders whilst walking too!)
How do you find time to relax whilst not working?
Wow, I really need to create business free – screen free time. But it’s actually close to impossible when you run the show yourself & when my business is so labour intensive. I have started to have some help now, but not enough to hand over the reigns for longer periods. It’s tricky as I have orders from over seas too & constantly have enquiries coming in. (And yes each & every order does still make me dance a happy dance!) I like to keep things personal by replying to each & everyone individually.
Family time is so important & we love going on lovely long bike rides, dog walks, ( of course always finishing in a pub for a drink & some hot chips!) I also make time to work out & have PT sessions once a week as well as body conditioning classes (I have to fit this in to make sure I can have those cheeky chips in the pub at the weekend! )
But I really do need to be a bit more strict with switching off more. At least I love my business!!
Whats your top tips for starting a business?
Hmmm, have supportive friends & family that you can ask advice from. Go for it, I was worried my party bags would be a flop, but until you’ve given it a shot, you just won’t know. Be organised, make lists & have plenty of post it notes for reminders! Make friends with the post office workers because you might, like me see them every single day!
Oh and keep your receipts in date order…I had to painfully sort through mine to get into the right order.
If you could invite a special guest to a dinner party who would it be?
Hands down it would have to be Prince Harry. He would be great fun to be around, super interesting & really down to earth hopefully. Being a father & uncle now, no doubt he’ll have many children’s birthday parties ahead of him. He’s seems the kind of guy to get really involved & join in. When he was in the army, he also took over from my husband in Afghanistan, so we have something in common there!
To find out more about Louisa and Truly Scrumptious, please click HERE