New Mum’s Emily and Laura talk to us about how being on maternity gave them the opportunity to see a gap in the market. After a few coffee and cake sessions, Ovi and Reu was conceived and this is their story…
At Ovi and Reu we collaborate with a selection of fabulous boutique British brands to offer a range of gift collections for new and expectant mums. Each collection is designed with a new mum in mind and is themed around a particular lifestyle.
We currently offer four different collections: The Parisian Gift Collection, The Country Gift Collection, The Coastal Gift Collection (each of which comes as a full collection or smaller Highlights collection) and, for the mum-to-be, The Expectant Gift Collection. We have also recently added subscription options: the three month Bump, Birth and Beyond and the two month Newborn and Beyond.
Each gift collection is beautifully packed in one of our bespoke boxes which is designed to be letterbox friendly; It’s no fun having to answer the door to a delivery man when you’re trying to coax a newborn to sleep (or catching a few well-earned zzz’s yourself). Every collection includes a nursery print with room for a personalised message on the reverse and you can even add an optional gift for the new dad.
How did it start?
When we first sat down for coffee and cake on a rainy midweek morning about half way through maternity leave, neither of us had any idea that we would leave the café with a business plan or that by the end of the week we’d have a third partner, a domain name and an exciting retail venture underway.
It wasn’t long into our maternity leave (with all the long lunches and cake-eating afternoons that maternity leave brings) that Laura and I realized how similar our career paths and experiences had been and it is certainly one of the things that has accelerated our business relationship and, with our pretty eclectic mix of working experiences, I hope will also afford us great business success.
Who is Emily?
After leaving The University of Nottingham with my degree in English Studies, I immediately took up a position in a small Interior Design company, embarking on a diploma in Interior Design and getting lots of amazing experience with a really varied and interesting work-load. I love design and was never confident enough to really pursue it before I left university, but I am so glad that I have had the experience of working in this industry. I picked up a lot along the way about dealing with clients, making sales, forming industry relationships and, of course, some invaluable business tips. I also learnt a lot about myself in these formative career years – my preferred working styles, the things I enjoy doing and the things that always seem to get bumped to the next day…!
When I decided to follow my long-term boyfriend (now husband) to London, I made the decision to switch careers to try my hand in the Advertising Industry. After sending off a lot of speculative emails to ad agencies, I finally got my foot in the door at a small and relatively new start-up. Living and working in London proved an entirely different proposition to my former life. Things were hectic, eclectic and, if I’m honest, exhausting. Although working in advertising came with a decent amount of fun and a good dash of glamour it also required long (long) hours and offered very (very) little money…
So, having learnt that I needed a little more stability, reliability and financial security in my life, I decided to try teaching. My mum (and now business partner) is a primary school teacher and I felt that I wasn’t best suited to this environment so I plumped for Secondary Level, did some work experience and got a place at Roehampton University in London to do a PGCE. My husband and I had long-since held an ambition to move to Bristol and we decided that this was the perfect time to pack up and go. So I got a job in Stroud and we moved into our first flat in Bristol in 2010. I got my dream teaching job at Bristol Grammar School a couple of years later and there I stayed until Ovi arrived and it was all-change again as I plunged head first into life setting up and running an online retail business.
Who is Laura?
While at Exeter University studying French and Maths, I did various volunteering placements culminating in becoming a Trustee of a youth volunteering charity. After graduating, I took up a part time events organizing and youth support role in the charity alongside doing some care work with disabled adults and volunteering at a local prison. I loved the variety of the different roles and the chance to meet and work with so many different people. I worked for 18 months or so before taking a year out to travel all over, ending up working in New Zealand in a kiwi fruit orchard and in a government statistics office for a bit.
Back in the UK, after a year of adventure, I ended up back in the charity I had left, eventually co-managing it before heading to a fundraising and PR role in a school for visually impaired young people where I also worked in the boarding houses when not in the office. It was working in this school, as well as spending time with a friend who was a primary teacher, that encouraged me to start wondering why I had never considered primary teaching before. I was well aware of the many ‘above and beyond’ hours that were involved in teaching, but also knew that it would satisfy my need for a varied work life with the chance to teach different ages and subjects and my desire to try to do something that makes a difference. Before I knew it, I was signed up to the PGCE course and immersed in the massive workload of a teacher.
From my first teaching job in rural Somerset, I moved up to Bristol with my boyfriend and took up a wonderful teaching job in South Gloucestershire. Four years and one baby down the line and I am still there part time, with the rest of my time being focused on being a mum and running Ovi and Reu with co-founders Emily and Jean.
Running a small business has proved a fantastic challenge. Every element of it from the very first steps to setting up, to buying products, designing web content, maintaining social media presence and, of course, converting hits to sales has proved to be part of a giant learning curve. We’ve really felt our way through the dark with some elements and then bounded confidently toward others but it’s this constant sense of challenge that has been the main thing that has driven us forward – that and a real desire to make this work as a sustainable income, of course!
You can check out the Ovi & Reu website here and if you know any expectant mothers out their needing a thoughtful gift then you know what to do.