Why I set up from babies with love

When I had my son, watching children’s charities’ adverts and reading articles about the hardship children face all around the world took on new depth of meaning.  The tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat made me feel more determined than ever to do something.

I thought to myself: if I could buy a beautiful baby grow, at great value, on an attractive website, and know the profit helps a baby in need, why would I buy anywhere else?    The answer is I wouldn’t!

I asked the question, why aren’t children’s charities selling baby clothes and using the profit to fund their work?   I couldn’t find a good answer, so I decided to do it myself! www.frombabieswithlove.org, the first online baby clothes retailer donating 100% profit to orphaned and abandoned children. We sell beautiful, stylish, organic baby clothes, including brands such as Organics for Kids and Red Urchin.

We have begun by donating to the amazing charity SOS Children.  They build and run children’s villages around the world, where foster mums care for orphaned and abandoned children.

Our first baby is a 12-month old boy from Guinea in West Africa. Sadly, his father died, and his mother was not in a position to care for him.   But he now has a new, permanent home, where he should grow up safely, loved by his foster family and he will receive an education.  As part of the village communities, SOS Children provides nurseries, schools and healthcare.  We are also funding the build and running of nursery schools in the villages, our first is in Chipata Village in Zambia.

I believe we need to do more to address inequality in our society.  This has been instilled in me by my parents, my education and my work.  A baby should have a decent start in life no matter where they are born.   Where circumstances are difficult, we should have support systems in place to help.

I did a lot of probono charity work whilst training as an accountant; I found it so enjoyable that I decided to move to the charity sector.  Throughout my career I’ve been interested in corporate social responsibility and social enterprise; having my son inspired me to set up from babies with love. I feel driven to help create change and I believe that, starting small, we can make a contribution to, not only helping specific children, but also shifting our expectations of the role of business in society.

As SOS Children Zambia Director, Florence Phiri, says, “buy baby clothes at from babies with love because you will have double satisfaction! You buy a great quality, organic product, and at the same time you help a child somewhere else – double satisfaction and double benefit!”

Why setting up a social enterprise is like motherhoood

Yesterday www.frombabieswithlove.org went live… and I can’t help but reflect that starting my social enterprise has been rather like motherhood!

In the past two years I’ve had a baby and created from babies with love, an online shop selling beautiful organic baby clothes and donating 100% profits to orphaned and abandoned children.

I began my business plan about a year ago.  It was similar to how I felt in planning to become a mum, I knew it was a big deal; that my life would change forever!   When I was pregnant I did an awful lot of reading, received great advice from family and friends… how to plan for a child, look after a child, how to look after myself!   And in planning my business I found the same thing!  Most surprisingly, amazing communities of entrepreneurs that are happy to share advice, give time and provide support.    I’ve even discovered there are networks for ‘social entrepreneurs’ and ‘mumpreneurs’ – both labels I now give myself!

I don’t think anything is quite the same as the excitement, nervousness, ups and down of pregnancy and motherhood… but I have been, and still am, experiencing all of this in starting my website.   Perhaps the only difference is no back pain!

I’ve learned so much.   In both professions!   2 years ago I knew nothing about pushchairs, weaning, or what the correct temperature for a human being is!   Nor did I know anything about search engine optimisation, trade fairs or writing press releases.  And so much of what I’ve learned in becoming a mum is helping me run from babies with love.  I’m lucky because as a mum I know my customers well.  Plus without doubt my ability to multi-task has entered a whole new league!

And the big website launch day?  Like childbirth?   Well not quite!   But I certainly went in to overdrive on both occasions…  and shouted a lot!   At least with from babies with love I’ve been shouting on twitter rather than at my husband!

And now?  I carefully wrap each order to send out to my new customers…. Just as I so delicately wrapped my son in his swaddle blankets.   I am so proud, so excited.

What next?  The new experiences continue!  My son is now 18 months…. He’s learning new words and I’m learning how to deal with tantrums!   www.frombabieswithlove.org is one day old and I’m learning how to spread the word.

Both my baby boy and my brand new business came from the heart.  They both involved my blood, sweat and tears!  My gorgeous son has great opportunities in life, which I look forward to nurturing.  And through selling organic baby clothes and donating all the profit to orphaned and abandoned babies, I hope from babies with love means that other babies will do too.   The shop’s open!  Come and see!

Hands up for social enterprise, ladies?!

When asked, by show of hands, how many people understood the term “social enterprise” only around a third of the audience raised their hand.   A little worrying for a social entrepreneur like me….

Yesterday, at a conference to learn about social enterprise, organised by the Federation of International Women’s Associations in London (FIWAL), women from around the world gathered to find out more under the banner ‘working towards a more positive tomorrow’.

The umbrella body Social Enterprise UK introduced the concept, explaining the meaning of social enterprise and the sector’s growth.   Interestingly for the female audience, Head of Policy and Research Ceri Jones noted that the ‘glass ceiling’ is being broken by women in social enterprise; that 41% of social enterprise board members are women, compared to 11% in FTSE companies.

Founders of the social enterprises MyBnk.org, PositiveLuxury.com, Elvis & Kresse and Rococo Chocolates inspired the audience with their personal and business histories, describing how their businesses are making a social difference.

At the start of the day, most did not know the term ‘social enterprise’ but by the end, everyone had had the opportunity to meet successful social entrepreneurs. So what difference did this day make to such a group of international women?  Participants described how inspirational it was to hear from young passionate speakers doing such fantastic work.   Margaret Wickware, FIWAL President, said, “it was fantastic to learn about this 21st century business model and see how it relates to my own life”.

One participant noted that she was brought up in a consumer society, where waste is a given, built in to the system, and that her generation never questioned where anything came from.    She felt delighted that the day had sparked her social conscience and hoped it could create momentum, rather than everyone going back to their old habits.

The social enterprise sector is growing and the terminology is becoming better known, as is shown by the very fact that a group like FIWAL held a social enterprise conference. That’s why – despite the poor show of hands at the start – I feel confident that now is a great time to launch a social enterprise.  My organisation, www.frombabieswithlove.org, which sells organic baby clothes and donates 100% of profits to orphaned and abandoned children, is launching this month.

The inspiration felt by the audience demonstrates that people are excited to hear about social impact, about positive stories and how small organisations and initiatives can be part of a bigger change.  So there is only one way for those hands, and the social enterprise sector to go: up! up! up!