Interview with Carlene Phillips
“Invest in you, get a business mentor and get started, never live your life in ‘what if’ mode..” – Carlene Phillips
Today we feature Carlene Phillips, the founder at KIDS LIFE CLOTHING. We hear their story in their own words, their successes, their challenges, and their insights.
Let’s start by getting to know you. Can you please tell us a little bit about you and what you do?
My name is Carlene Phillips I am 34 years old and I am the CEO of KIDS LIFE CLOTHING. KIDS LIFE CLOTHING is an online platform showcasing luxury clothes, shoes, and accessories for children aged 0 – 16 years of age.
A great introduction and start to this interview. Can you please tell us, how did you start, from what age, and what made you decide to change direction and start?
I started my business by attending a Self MADE business workshop back in January 2019 with Bianca Miller-Cole & Byron Cole. I had an idea for the business I wanted to create, I wasn’t sure about the execution of the business or where to start. Following the session I was hooked, I signed up immediately for the mentorship programme, as it was filled with like-minded people, who were in business or looking to start a business, but needed guidance on the next steps.
I have worked in property for the past 13 years, following a Visual Merchandising Degree at university. Working in the property industry was something I fell into initially, I needed a job fresh out of university and thought it would be a stop-gap before embarking on a career in fashion. However 13 years later and numerous promotions I had cemented my career in the industry.
Although I love the job, my staff, and the day-to-day of the job, anyone who knows me, knows I have always kept one foot in the fashion industry.
I have 15 honorary nieces and nephews and every year at Christmas I create a huge list and start a search of finding each one a gift. I’m a lover of clothes over toys, so finding the perfect outfit or coat was something I thrived in and became quite good at.
Over the years I found myself searching numerous websites to complete my list. Through this frustration, I started thinking more and more about creating a website that housed all things childrenswear in one place. To provide a solution to my problem KIDS LIFE CLOTHING was born.
Thank you for that insight. So can you tell us…What does your business do and where is your company based?
The company is based in London, however, we are an online platform so we are reachable worldwide.
We provide a platform of well-known premium brands alongside independent luxury retailers. To showcase luxury without limitations across the childrenswear industry. By creating this platform the idea is to give the consumer a one-stop-shop for all things childrenswear under one roof.
Although KIDS LIFE CLOTHING is in its infancy the demise of the retail high street and the growth of e-commerce, means consumers are resulting to more and more online platforms to shop, with the fast pace growth of the childrenswear industry the current number of online platforms to meet this demand is limited.
This is where we want to ensure we are able to help fill the gap in the market but provide a broader range of brands to our customers paired with great customer service and fast delivery.
Our mission is to provide a platform where children are celebrated through luxury and style in every outfit they wear. Clothing your child through every stage of childhood.
What’s the story behind your success? What led to your aha moment? how did you get to where you are now?
Joining a mentorship programme has 100% been the pinnacle to my success so far. You are guided every step of the way on what to do, what mistakes not to make, and where to steer your business next. Bianca Miller-Cole & Byron Cole were paramount in teaching me this. Through our sessions, we are supported through a ‘Self Made’ community group, where we are able to support each other, promote each other route for each other and help each other on the journey.
I have met some incredible people through this community and as everyone is on the same journey a win for them is 100% a win for everyone, as anyone who had started a business knows how lonely it can be if you don’t have a support network and the sacrifices you have to make in order to succeed.
One of the many lessons learned from one of our sessions was the power of networking. The power of connections, reaching out, and building your network are key to success.
Sophie founder of BYRCOLLECTIVE is a true example of this, we met through connections on Linkedin. Sophie has many years experience in the retail industry, working for luxury retailers like Burberry and Diesel, and now works to help start-up retails businesses.
Through this, we were able to join forces to help execute my business from an idea to launch.
Finding the right people for your business is key. I would advise investing in professional help or course to help provide you with the foundations to succeed.
Thank you for sharing that. What’s been your life’s biggest lesson so far?
My biggest lesson so far is to make sure you have a good support system. When starting a business you wear many hats at the beginning, as a start-up, you are the social media manager, accountant, the web designer, customer service advisor and marketer and sometimes you can feel overwhelmed with all that is required. Having a strong support system will help you through the days you feel like giving up and will help you to continue on your journey.
Having time out is a very hard lesson to learn at first, by taking a break every now and again can keep you focused and avoid burnout. This is something I still work on to this day and I find it hard to balance.
That i should have started earlier, following your dreams make them a reality. Having a dream and not pursuing it creates a ‘What if’ and I never want to live my life with regrets on what i could have done.
If you were to go back in time, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice to my younger self is the sky is the limit. Put no limitations on your dreams and don’t live in fear, your vision is achievable go for it, what is the worst that can happen.
We’re nearly halfway through our interview so it’s a great time to ask how does your business run. What three tools make your business run better?
Canva is a great creative tool that helps businesses stay on-brand with all visual communication be it across social media, through email, or creating thank you cards. It is a great way to provide creativity to your business without a huge price tag
Xero & Hubdoc are great accounting apps that allow you to stay on top of your business at all times, so you can track all of your expenditures in one place. Especially if you are self-funding, to begin with, it is easy to get carried away without tracking what investment you are putting in.
What do you know now that you wished you had known before?
That I should have started earlier, following your dreams make them a reality. Having a dream and not pursuing it creates a ‘What if’ and I never want to live my life with regrets about what I could have done.
What has been your greatest or proudest achievement or moment?
Launching the website and getting my first sale. It all became real and made me realise I was officially in business.
What future life goals do you want to achieve and why?
I want to create a business that I am proud of. I have visions of creating the biggest and best platform out there. The department store of childrenswear. I believe in my vision and passion for the business and creating something that not only gives back to smaller brands by giving them a platform
To finish our inspiring questions…” We believe that sharing inspiring words can inspire others.” If there was one positive thing you would say to someone to inspire and empower them what would it be and why?
Invest in you, get a business mentor, and get started, never live your life in ‘what if’ mode.
“Thank you it has been great learning more about your founder story and KIDS LIFE CLOTHING”
To learn more about KIDS LIFE CLOTHING Visit www.kidslifeclothing.co.uk
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