Spotlight on Mint and May
Today's spotlight is on Mint and May, an eclectic online homeware store, selling quirky items for your home. Spurred on by almost being made redundant, as is often the case when starting a small business (the opportunity or realisation that change is needed), Zoe and her husband set up Mint and May, and have worked long hours to get the business established.
Read on to hear more about their journey and if you want to explore more, you can do so through the button below
Mint and May seeks to bring customers the very best in quirky, sophisticated homeware, gifts and soft furnishings, perfect for bringing a little added creativity and colour into interior spaces. Founded by dynamic husband and wife duo Zoe and Doron, this London-based online store sprung from a mutual love of great design and inventive gifting. Zoe brings with her several years extensive experience in the world of retail, while Doron is hard at work behind the scenes to ensure the techie-side of the business runs without a hitch.
“We hand-pick only the finest stock, to bring our customers the very best in style, quality and originality,” say Zoe and Doron. "We hope everyone finds something truly unique. “
Find out more about the full Mint and May range at the official website www.mintandmay.co.uk.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
We had always dreamed of owning our own homeware shop but we were all talk and no action! That all changed about 3 years ago when two blue lines appeared on my pregnancy test and 2 days later I was made redundant (I must add the company didn’t know I was pregnant). It was an emotional few weeks to say the least. In hindsight everything turned out okay. I applied for another job in the department, which I thankfully got. However, the seed was planted. What would I have done with the money and my life had I taken the redundancy package? The whole experience gave us the push to follow our dreams and do something we both love which would not only benefit us, but also our little family. That coupled with a passion for interior design and Mint and May was created!
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
Like most small family-run businesses we started at home and continue to do so, although we have spilled out to my mum and sister’s homes. We use every nook and cranny for storage and want to do so for as long as possible to keep outgoings as low as possible.
3. How did you fund your business?
We funded it from our own pocket. We really wanted the business to grow organically, every penny we make we plough straight back into the business. We started with just 60 products and now we have over 400 which is continuing to grow.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
Managing our time while we started up the business! We had a baby and Doron was working full time. There were a lot of very late nights, early mornings and working during lunch breaks.
5. What help was missing for you?
My wonderful dad, he died nearly 16 years ago and was a business man and entrepreneur. I know his advice, insights and encouragement would be invaluable.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
A few things spring to mind, but that is all part of the learning curve. When we launched, we decided to focus on Facebook and Pinterest as our core social networks, which looking back was a mistake. It took us nearly a year to set up our Instagram account (what were we thinking!) which, by far, has been the most successful social media platform for us. Instagram is an amazing tool, an incredible source for inspiration and a very supportive community.
7. What have you learnt?
Oh gosh, so much and still learning (I hope we never stop). When you start your own business you have to be everything; buyer, social media manger, photographer, general dogsbody, accountant, I could go on and on. We quickly learnt you can’t excel at everything so where possible it's best to outsource to freelancers.
Opening a web shop is the equivalent to opening a shop on Venus and you need to be persistent. I once read an analogy ‘business is like a shark. It has to keep moving forward or it will die'. It stuck with me.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Believe in yourself and your business and love what you do! Also, it’s important to be dynamic, we started off wanting to stock some vintage items but found sourcing the stock during our weekends wasn’t right for the business or our family, plus we didn’t have a clue what we were looking for in order to make money! So, don’t be afraid to make mistakes but recognise if something isn’t working and keep your mind open to new ideas.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
The flexibility, being our own boss and the feeling of empowerment of running our own business.
Finding an amazing new product and of course someone buying it knowing that they love it as much as we do.
We pride ourselves on our personable customer service so its lovely when we hear from a customer to say how much they love their purchase, that means a hell of a lot to us.
We are buzzing after seeing our products in the press, I cried in a Co-op when I saw one of our products first featured in a magazine.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
That’s a tricky one. I wouldn’t say hard but at times challenging specially when we have a young family, it a juggling act. But it allows us to spend more time with our kids which for us is what it is all about.
Nicola says "I love the quote "a business is like a shark it must keep moving or die". That is so true in this day and age, where online shopping is bigger now than ever. You aren't just learning about traditional business "stuff" such as accountancy, marketing, HR, but social media; which platform to use, SEO, content and many more such things. As Zoe says you need to really love and have a passion for what you to, to keep moving forwards"
The Girl with The Green Sofa