Kate Crews is the founder of The Nursery, an online store specifically designed to help busy people buy beautiful baby gifts. We spoke to Kate about the highs and lows of her business journey as part of our beautiful business campaign.
I started The Nursery because I realised that most baby stores cater to parents. In many ways of course, they should. But, as I knew from personal experience, there’s a whole calendar of events that happen even when you’re not a parent: friends’ baby showers, hospital visits, a child’s first birthday party… Then someone shares a pregnancy photo and the cycle starts again.
When my friends started having children, I lost hours feeling overwhelmed in big baby stores. I wanted to buy something practical and pretty at a good gifting price point. And those products do exist. But the issue is that only perhaps 5% of the stock in big baby stores is typically tailored toward that shopping experience. The other 95% is prams, dummies, breast pumps… things you wouldn’t go near until you’re a parent yourself.
After my sister had a baby, I decided to create a shop that curated gifts for this purpose. I don’t stock anything that requires parenting knowledge – like sleeping bags where the preferences change per person or season – and I hand select products out of any given baby range, so people aren’t overwhelmed with choice.
Taking on the experience of others
My niece Stella is now four and a half and I’m onto my third iteration of the website, which improves every time. To give you an idea of my ecommerce experience prior to this venture, I failed Comp100 – the introductory computer class at uni! But for me, being in over your head and giving something a go is the definition of being in small business. That’s the beauty of it.
The way I see it, if you sit at home on your own as a small business owner, you might get somewhere. But if you actively try things, talk to others and ask question after question, you’re so much more likely to succeed. As you identify the new skills and people you need, those skills and people come into your life. You live, you learn and you improve.
Knowing when to outsource or when to do something yourself is part of the learning curve, and I’ve developed a simple rule. If it’s a skill I’ll need to use over and over again, I’ll hold onto it – even if it’s not something I enjoy. You’ll improve over time and your business will be better for it. But if it’s something you just need set up once, let it go.
Accounting was one of those things at the bottom of my list. I knew I needed it, and that every monthly debit matters to a small business owner, but I didn’t know what I was doing. After seeking out some training and connecting up my accounts, I gained confidence. Now it’s no big deal and I’m going to work with Sophie Andrews from the Accounts Studio to see where I can optimise more.
The moments that make the hustle worthwhile
For a lot of people in big business looking from the outside in, it would be tempting to think, “Oh I’d just love to have my own little shop.” But it’s a very involved process.
You may start out with tubs of products across your kitchen table and before you know it, you’re taking international enquiries. You’re in charge of your website, your SEO, your product range, your accounting and understanding your business metrics. You’re in charge of bringing money through the door.
So you have to love it, and I do. The buzz I get from a sale – knowing everything I put into making that one moment happen – is a feeling like no other.