Essex besties launch business in lockdown that’s now adored by celebrities

A pair of Essex besties who “took the plunge” and launched their business just weeks after the first lockdown are celebrating turning over £41,000, in a “milestone” month.

Laura McBride, 30, from Loughton, and Laura Boswell, 31, from Billericay, Essex, have seen BabyChum – a curated marketplace selling gifts for parents and children – rise to success.

The duo have helped over 450 sellers throughout the pandemic – including mums who have been furloughed – by providing a platform to sell their unique products, ranging in price from £1.20 to £6,500.

And on top of their six-figure turnover, BabyChum already has a host of celebrity fans, including Stacey Solomon, Danielle Armstrong, and Charley Webb.

The two Lauras, who both live in Essex, collaborated with Ferne McCann, which not only saw their Instagram following skyrocket, but also led to items from the Towie star’s collection selling out.

But this week saw even bigger news, as the pair have announced BabyChum is now supplying luxury store Harrods, with the London store’s first luxury gold leaf toy box, costing £2,199.

Laura Boswell said: “It’s been such a roller coaster year for us and we’ve been working every hour under the sun.

“There have been huge emotional highs and lows!

“We decided to go ahead with launching BabyChum in April 2020, just weeks after lockdown had been announced – and it was definitely the right decision.

“We launched with just 300 products and just a handful of sellers.

“Now, just one year on, we’re up to more than 2,400 products and more than 463 sellers.

“Not only does BabyChum sell personalised gifts, nursery furniture and decor, but we also provide baby essentials like eco-friendly cloth nappies and weaning plates.”

Laura McBride added: “Every time a person orders from us, they are not only supporting BabyChum but lots of independent sellers who started their business during a pandemic; who juggle parenthood on top of processing and packaging orders; who wanted to start a little side business to find their sense of fulfilment in this crazy world.

“They are supporting people’s livelihood and dreams and there is so much to be said for that.”

After having her daughter, Rosie, in 2017, Laura McBride set up a Facebook support page called ParentChum for other mums on Instagram offering practical parenting advice on top of a “shoulder to cry on”.

But Laura quickly noticed a gap in the baby products market, especially following the closure of “outdated physical stores”, such as former-leviathan Mothercare, and Mamas & Papas.

The two Lauras, who have been pals for 10 years, then devised a business plan for an online marketplace that would be a one-stop shop for must-haves for parents, families and kids.

They were both working as virtual Personal Assistants when they started working towards the launch of BabyChum in early 2020, with just £2,000 investment each from their own money.

The money was spent on web design and social media posts, while they both worked hard to find quality independent sellers who would make BabyChum stand out against giants such as Etsy and Not On The High Street.

Laura Boswell said: “Every seller we found was through social media.

“We already had some small businesses owners following us on ParentChum, and others we found on Facebook and Instagram.

“It felt great to be finding these incredible businesses, and to be giving them a platform to showcase and sell their goods, before they were well known.

“They really are part of our brand now.

“The best part about BabyChum is that we don’t charge any signing-on fees, or listing fees, we simply take a flat-rate commission on each order (product cost only) – which means our sellers have clarity of costs up front.

“We also don’t charge for social media marketing, PR or any other types of promotion which means our sellers can get a substantial amount of exposure at a competitive commission rate.”

But just weeks before BabyChum was due to launch in April 2020, we were hurled into national lockdown.

After consulting their advertising agency, the friends decided to go ahead with their idea.

Laura Boswell said: “We’d given up everything really to get BabyChum off the ground, well-paid jobs, our social lives, literally everything.

“So we were worried as there was a lot at risk, but we were also so passionate about the brand and knew if we put in the work we’d see the rewards at some point – knowing that great things take time and patience, we were willing to do what we needed to, to get our businesses where we needed it to be.”

And it paid off – just two weeks after launching, the site had already turned over £20,000, so the friends knew it had been the right thing to do.

“When we started making sales we were over the moon, it’s a feeling you can’t describe, everything is so new at the beginning and people are buying from a platform you have created – one that isn’t well-known at this point so it is definitely an exciting time,” said Laura McBride.

Last June, the ladies approached TOWIE icon Ferne McCann about collaborating on a kids’ clothing collection, which was launched in November, which saw their orders and social media accounts descend into chaos.

Laura McBride said: “The Ferne collection was a huge success for our first ever celebrity collection, we had about 2,000 followers on Instagram which then flew up to 26,000, as well as selling thousands of units across the whole range.

“Sam Faiers took a photo of her little girl Rosie wearing one of our pink ‘HAPPY’ tracksuits from the Ferne collection and posted it on her Instagram grid and we pretty much sold out.

“Working with Ferne was a huge step forward for the business and one that got us seen on a large scale.”

Actress Charley Webb is also a big fan of the brand, and they have well-known followers including Stacey Solomon, Amy Neville, Emma McVey, and Danielle Armstrong.

Original Article: