I had the pleasure of meeting Kate from Happy Little Doers, a couple of days after I opened the shop back in August 2020. We had been speaking on Instagram for a few months but it was the first time I really spoke to her and got her incredible cards in my hands. I was sold straight away. As someone who is VERY picky when it comes to aesthetics and quality I was so, so impressed at what this fledgling brand had created! A great concept, great product, perfect colours and brilliant branding and fonts.
Kate created Happy Little Doers during the first lockdown, and by the third was being stocked all over the UK and regularly selling out everywhere, including at West Stanton!
So, to show that you really do anything when you set your mind to it, and sharing a bit of a happy story during these testing times - grab yourself a cuppa and check out my interview with the glorious Kate from Happy Little Doers.
1) Where did the name Happy Little Doers come from?
Ok, so we were in lockdown one, the kids were at home full time, with nowhere to go, and so I had to try and keep everyone happy (including myself!!). So I started doing lots of activities, games and fun things to do with the kids - I figured if they are busy doing something, they would be happy, engaged and learn at the same time. One day Lara was having her nap (she had twice a day then, which was heaven), I made little cards from paper and starting writing the numbers and dots on them and asked Billy to match the dots to the numbers. I was amazed how much he enjoyed it and how quickly he picked it up. The next day he asked to play with the numbers again, they were all bent and torn, but we did it again. He wanted to count higher, so this was the light bulb moment. It was then that I thought there may be something in this; the simplicity in teaching and learning from home. That night I thought what if we designed this concept and added words and it all went from there. I knew that my kids were happiest when they were doing something. So we came up with Happy Little Doers. I was conscious of also getting the name on Instagram as I knew this would be a big driver for the business, as well as the website domain name.
2) What was your job before starting your business?
I studied Advertising and Marketing at University at Cheltenham (which seems like a lifetime ago now). I then went into an Advertising Agency, and then onto various Fashion brands as a Marketing Manager. I learnt a lot about shoots, direct marketing, papers and the printing process. I think my background has been really helpful with what I’m now doing. However, I do believe if you have a great idea then everything else will fall into place and you can learn this stuff as you go. After this career in London, I was searching for something more and studied the Law to become a Police Officer. Whilst I was waiting for my place I worked as a civilian in the Major Crime Team, which was really interesting and I met some great people along the way. I have huge admiration for every single person who in the emergencies services and on the front line. I knew I wanted to start a family and to be quite honest, the Police was tough. You can’t unsee things and I knew after a while that it wasn’t forever. I really wanted a family and the shifts just wouldn’t have worked for me. I’m a really all or nothing kind of person, so I had to be completely in or out. After this I worked with my husband for a little bit within his Design Agency before we decided to have kids and I got the best job being a mum. I’m so fortunate that the business naturally developed from being just that.
3) What led you to start your business?
I think I’ve always been one for giving things a go. I would rather give it a go and it not work, that not try in the first place. With Ollie being both a Designer and Web Developer it was all very low cost and risk, so I felt there really wasn’t anything to lose. Working for yourself, the sky really is the limit and you can go in any direction you want to take it. Becoming a mum, my passion was naturally Billy and Lara and I really wanted to make sure they have fun and learn at the same time with beatifically designed products. I felt like there was a gap in the market for what I wanted to create and once I had the idea and spoke to a few friends about it, that was it, there was no stopping me. When I was growing up, if I wanted something, I had to work for it. For example, I wanted ice skates (as I had just started ice skating), so I was told to go and work for it. I got a paper round, my dad made a little trolly because I couldn’t hold the bag as it was so heavy and off I went. Once I was able to afford my skates I was off - I even went on to represent GB doing synchronised ice skating. I worked from a young age because I had that drive to do so. I was really happy and satisfied when I made a few quid here and there, from washing cars to selling my grandparents chicken eggs. I really think that instilled the drive and passion from a young age. However, looking back I do think I struggled with confidence and because I wasn’t the happiest at my school, I think that pulled me down. I think when we’re happy, we’re in a good place to learn. If you as parents are passionate about learning with your child, getting the resources and making it fun then they will be so happy and confident and want to learn more. The power and willingness to learn is the most precious thing as it can shape their whole world from such a young age. If your child doesn’t like reading, make it fun by bringing an element of something they do like. Like a subject they’re passionate about, like football or dinosaurs. We understand that everyone develops at different rates and that’s why there are so many different ways to play with our cards.
4) What do you find the best and worst parts of running your own business?
As much as I’m happy to pack boxes, on one side I literally love it because there is a demand for them, but at the same time I’m thinking of so many other things I could be doing, to build the business – there’s not enough time in the day! I think if the business was to get to a stage where I could hire people this would be the first position. The best parts are definitely seeing children playing and learning with them. I recently donated several packs to children who needed a little help, and it’s moments like that, that I love. And of course, when we get new stockists it is really exciting.
5) Biggest pinch me moment so far...
Every time a new customer or stockist buys, they are all pinch me moments that make running your own business totally worthwhile. I was super excited to get accepted on Not On The High Street! I’m a huge fan of Holly Tucker - I love her enthusiasm and championing for small businesses, so this meant a lot to me.
I’m not just saying this but, I was super excited to be stocked with West Stanton. I believe you were our first bricks and mortar shop and, for you to be so open and give me a shot as a new business, really does make it special. It gave me the confidence and determination to approach other stockists and now we’re stocked in over 25 places in 7 months.
When Gemma from @mutha.hood featured our cards on her Instagram, this was an unreal moment, the orders went crazy. I think I packed about 7 Royal Mail sacks in 2 days, it was so busy that our website crashed! I will be forever grateful for her, as it introduced lots of new customers who then shared and it went from there. Gemma’s super busy with her own amazing brand Muthahood but for her to take time out and promote us as a small business was so amazing. When we launch any new product and we get lovely comments, shares, and likes that’s always a great high, knowing that people are buying into a small business and they love what we do is everything.
6) What’s next for Happy Little Doers?
Well the short answer is Phonics! We’ve been working on these cards for a while now as we want to make sure we get everything spot on. We’ve received some lovely comments back from some teachers, so I’m really excited about the launch soon. A huge number of people who have already bought from us have been asking about it and when we are going to launch, so it will be great to get them out there.
I really want to expand our flashcard range as well as new exciting products, that I know I would love and would help my children. I’m really passionate about every child having a good education. I strongly believe it is so important that children start learning young; they really are sponges and the more you put in the more you’ll get out of them.
I normally say too much and can’t keep a secret… so the rest you’ll have to wait and see!