Premium member Lauren Jauncey is the co-founder of Little Designer Club (LDC), a design-your-own accessories label for kids, with bestie Jacquie Sharples. Less than two months after launching, LDC secured a deal for a pop-up design studio for kids aged 3 -12 in Myer stores in the upcoming Easter holidays. We caught up with Lauren about launching not one, but two startups in the past six months.
What gave you and your co-founder Jacquie the idea to start Little Designer Club?
One evening I was playing on the Mon Purse website, designing myself a beautiful leather handbag. My daughter, Milla, who was six at the time, asked if she could have a turn. She had a wonderful time designing her own handbag, and once she finished, she asked if I would buy it for her. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter, but I wasn’t going to spend $350 on a handbag for her. A couple of days later I was telling Jac this story, and she suggested we look into creating an online accessories design experience for kids.
How have kids responded to creating their own accessories?
One of our favourite aspects of the business is receiving photos of our Little Designers wearing their LDC creations. The pride and joy on their faces is absolutely priceless. Kids love the whole process, from using our online design studio to unwrapping their products when they arrive in the post and then wearing their creations and telling others that they designed it themselves.
Why are you passionate about encouraging creativity in kids?
Kids are naturally creative. When it comes to designing LDC products they don’t have a rule book and consequently they come up with the most amazing designs and combinations that us adults would never even think of. We believe that kids fashion should be driven by what makes kids feel great and what better way to do this than let them design their accessories themselves!
How did the partnership with Myer come about?
Our ambitious two-year goal was to have an LDC pop-up presence in a retail chain like Myer. In an attempt to understand how we best position ourselves to achieve this goal, I emailed a couple of contacts from my corporate days who now work at Myer, seeking their advice. Within a couple of weeks, we had an email from the Head of Childrenswear who said she’d had a play on our website and wanted us to come into Myer HQ and have a chat.
We went along to the Myer meeting hoping to get some great advice. We walked out of the meeting having agreed to do a trial pop-up in the first term of the school holidays. Our timing couldn’t have been better as Myer are really focused on creating amazing experiences and more theatre in their stores, which is exactly what LDC is about. All of the Myer team have been so incredible and supportive.
How will the pop-up work?
It is a physical design studio for kids full of colour and fun. At the studio, the kids can design their unique products on iPads. While our LDC staff are constructing the products, the kids will get hands-on and create a personalised swing tag. We even have a photo media wall so that our Little Designers can have a heap of fun taking pictures of themselves with their new products. We hope that kids will leave with proud smiles on their faces and unique creations in hand.
Do you have a defined marketing strategy?
I’d love to say we have a fully formed marketing strategy – but the truth is we don’t. It is very early days for us so we are still very much learning about this crazy marketing world, including how we best leverage social media. Obviously, partnering with a brand like Myer has significantly helped us and so at the moment we are fully focused on leveraging this opportunity as best we can.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Juggling a start-up with five young kids between us (I have three daughters, and Jacquie has two daughters) is definitely a challenge. There are never enough hours in the day, and we tend to communicate a lot by text message at crazy hours. But the beauty of this is we are 100% on the same page, and we share the same values of Family, Friendship, and Fun. When one of us is dealing with sick kids, the other one picks up the slack and vice versa. There have been some challenges that have popped up along the way, but that’s where our diverse skill set and willingness to ask others for help/advice has been invaluable.
You also founded another business, Frankly Diversity, late last year, how do you juggle both?
Frankly Diversity, is my consulting business focused on supporting organisations to improve their approach to diversity and inclusion. Having worked as the National Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Australia Post for four years, I have seen first hand how a strong diversity and inclusion strategy will result in higher employee engagement and improved business performance. More and more organisations realise this now, so it’s a great time to be consulting in this space.
At the moment I spend about 50% of my time on Frankly Diversity and 50% of my time on Little Designer Club. Currently, Frankly Diversity brings the dollars in, a lot of which then gets invested into LDC. I really enjoy both businesses as they challenge me in very different ways.
Why is encouraging diversity and inclusivity so important?
At the absolute core, diversity and inclusion are about ensuring people feel a sense of belonging. An organisational culture that promotes diversity and inclusion allows each employee to bring their true self to work. They feel empowered to utilise their unique talents to the best of their ability and to challenge the status quo, and this is when true innovation happens. Organisations that don’t embrace diversity and inclusion will get left behind – no doubt about it.
How is working for a major organisation, such as Australia Post, different to starting your own business?
Where do I start!! There are so many differences. The biggest difference is that I can no longer pick up the phone and call the IT/marketing/communications/HR/finance person for support – because I’m all of those things now. But working on my own businesses means I have 100% freedom to call the shots, and I can work when and where I want – which is brilliant especially given I have a young family.
Why is giving back important to your business?
Our children are so lucky to live in Australia and to have access to many amazing opportunities. We want our Little Designers to live their life to the fullest, and we also want to help educate them about other children who are much less fortunate. Accordingly, when any Little Designer purchases a product through LDC, they get the opportunity to donate $1 to a childrens-based charity or project. We hope that this step will encourage some important conversations within families.
Little Designer Club Popup Design Studios will be in the Myer Melbourne store from Easter Saturday, March 31st, for a week and then in Myer Southland for the second week of school holidays. For more details, check out Little Designer Club’s website here or connect with premium member Lauren Jauncey here.