New Kid on The Block – a small business start-up story

We recently heard that we’re one of five small businesses that have been shortlisted for the Small Awards’ New Kid on The Block best business start-up award.  We’re bursting with pride and delight to have got so far in a prestigious national award, of course, but looking back at the last 18 months to put together the award entry details was rewarding in itself – we both got quite emotional! We love reading about how businesses we buy from came about, so thought we’d share the start-up story that got us shortlisted.

For those of you who don’t know us, we’re Louise and Anna and we’re mums to five teenagers between the two of us. We both feel strongly that today’s young adults face so many challenges on all sides.  Aside from the uncertainties of today’s world, the enormous pressure from social media to ‘do better, look better, be better’ can mean a loss of vital self-belief.  We saw a way to address this with Equipp, by selling gifts for teenagers that celebrate rather than ‘motivate’ and that make it clear that the gift-giver believes the young adult is amazing just as they are.  We loved a recent comment on a previous blog post about the amount of “motivational guff” that’s out there – we want to be all about saying “you’re amazing just as you are”. The feedback from teens and those buying for them has been overwhelming – we’re so happy to be helping to spread happiness and positivity.

We wanted to donate a share of profits to a charity that works with teenagers, too, and are very proud to have supported Signpost from day one. Signpost is a fantastic local teenage mental health charity who provide counselling, coaching and support to young people.

From the very beginning, while going through the basic steps of registering the company and setting up our website, we talked to young people about the kind of gifts that they would like to receive, as we were determined to produce products that would be ‘acceptably cool’ to receive as well as a joy to give. We were introduced to local young artists who have worked with us on fab original illustrations and found some really brilliant small, independent companies across the UK who make our high-quality products featuring both these illustrations and our graphic designs.

After we launched our first, very limited product range we held research and review sessions with some of the young people who were currently being helped by Signpost – they didn’t hold back with their comments!  This was a fantastic exercise and allowed us develop a whole pipeline of brilliant new products with confidence, all developed in consultation with young adults.

As well as our own website, we are proud to sell through Notonthehighstreet and are currently working with them as part of their Business Development programme; to be chosen from among thousands of Notonthehighstreet partners for this was another huge high.

There have been good days, great days and the inevitable occasional down days but we’ve never lost sight of our original aims and we’re really proud to provide the chance to give something that teens can relate to and is a joy to keep.  Our ‘You Are, You Can, You Have’ Calendar gives the gift-giver the option of filling in personalised messages and we think a genuine example says it better than we ever could:

To Lucy

You Are…  Thoughtful, kind, hardworking and funny. You make us so proud every day.

You Can…  Change the world with your brilliance! You are capable of anything you dream of.

You Have…  So much talent. With your commitment and determination, you are unstoppable! Never stop being amazing.

From Mum and Dad

If we had to give one piece of advice to a start-up, it would be pretty similar to the messages we’re sending out with every sale – you’re enough, you’re amazing.  Don’t worry about what other people are doing, stick to what you believe in and know in your heart is right and with hard work, you’ll get there.

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us in our first 18 months; we couldn’t have done it without you.

Louise & Anna x

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