Interview with Kyra White and Shannon Barrie
Image Credits : Carli By Photo
“Ask for help. We consider ourselves experienced and capable but we also know that we are just two people who can’t do it all. Ask others who have been where you are now but ask friends and family too as they’re often the most honest whether you want them to be or not!.” – Kyra White, Shannon Barrie
Today we feature Kyra White and Shannon Barrie, the founders at Oh Mumma. 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?
Shannon and I co-founded Oh Mumma in 2019 when we were both expecting babies – Shannon, her 2nd child, and me my first. We were chatting about how life changes when you become a mum from work, your own ‘down’ time, friends, family time, everything, and the conversation went on to how important it is for mums to still take time out for themselves, a little self-care.
We are both the sort of people who have always taken gifts for the mum, not just the new baby when friends and family have had little ones and realised there was a gap in the market for this and so Oh Mumma was born. Oh Mumma starts and ends with mum.
We curate boxes of luxe beauty and lifestyle products and have a Just for Mum box which is exactly that and a Mum & Baby box where we add something for her little one too. You can buy a one-off box or subscribe for 3, 6, or 12 months. Each box is a mix of brands we all know and love with some new, discovery brands in there too, often founded by mums.
We even donate a percentage of our profits to a mum’s mental health charity. We launched in November 2019 and are learning every day. Between us, we cover all roles within the business from sourcing the products, the creative direction of the brand, social media content, marketing initiatives, and everything else that comes with being a start-up.
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?
We’ve both worked in beauty and retail since our teens and love the industry. We met through Benefit Cosmetics where we both worked, Shannon in the USA and me in the UK.
Shannon has done everything from sales through to launching brands and services globally at Benefit and then worked for Getty Images as part of their Senior team in the UK when she moved here looking after over 80 brands! I’ve always worked in Marketing for high street and premium brands and have covered all functions including partnerships, PR, Events, and many more most recently at Benefit Cosmetics but before that as Marketing Director at a UK skincare brand after starting out at the Arcadia Group many moons ago.
Both of us have worked cross-functionally with all areas of these businesses enabling us to know what our capabilities are, where we can learn, and definitely where we should outsource to experts and freelancers!
Thank you for that insight. So can you tell us…What does your business do and where is your company based?
Oh, Mumma is where you’ll find the ultimate gift for any mum. It’s not an ordinary ‘mum’ box as we ensure that all products in the box are tried, tested, and recommended by mums. If it doesn’t pass the mum test, it doesn’t go in the box. Each box worth over £55 and prices start at £22 plus you can subscribe for 3, 6, or 12 months or buy a one-off box.
The Just for Mum box is great for any mum, no matter what the age of her kids as it’s an edit of products that are beautifully useful for any mum to take some time out. The Mum & Baby box is curated taking into consideration where mum is on her journey and the many ways that her skin, hair, etc may be changing along with her needs.
Each box comes with personalised note which is still handwritten by Shannon in her home office in Basingstoke…which we are rapidly outgrowing! We are working on some exciting new launches including building your own boxes and some off pre-made boxes for important moments in life such as a Baby Shower box, a Hospital box, and much more.
What’s the story behind your success? What led to your aha moment? how did you get to where you are now?
We’ve been really lucky to have a core group of mentors who have been there as a sounding board on the way. From business founders, beauty experts, designers, and press we check and double-check our thoughts and strategies on them to ensure that there’s a method to what sometimes seems our madness. We’ve taken what we’ve learned in big businesses and adapted that to a start-up where possible. It’s been tricky trying to juggle maternity leave, motherhood, full-time roles with a lot of responsibility, not to mention a global pandemic, to get Oh Mumma off the ground but neither of us is afraid of hard work.
We wrote a list of what we wanted to achieve in our first year and often go back to that list to check on how we are doing which is a great way to remind ourselves of the journey so far and to celebrate successes.
The first piece of press coverage was an ‘oh my god’ moment as was the first order that we had that wasn’t from a friend or relative!
Thank you for sharing that. What’s been your life’s biggest lesson so far?
Our biggest lesson and so far is that we need to focus. We are both full of ideas and future opportunities that we try and do everything at once rather than focusing on key areas and. It comes from working in big, successful teams where there are tonnes of wider business support but the reality of two people trying to do the same is quite different which we are still learning to manage.
That some months will be better than others. It sounds obvious but some months are great and we’re floating on air as sales are high, we’ve won an award or been featured on a TV show and others we can’t work out why sales are slower, traffic to the site is down etc but it’s taking a moment to appreciate that life is like that.
Retail sales trends have always been around and we have definitely learnt from them but they still came as a bit of a shock for some reason.
If you were to go back in time, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Oh, interesting. I don’t think I ever really considered starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur early on as society still tends to lead you to apply for jobs at big organisations for security so I guess I had really thought about where I want to be in the future – working for myself and doing something I love.
We both believe that you can be anything you want to be, you just have to work for it and that is what you truly need to believe and live by to run your own business.
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?
Being an online business, it was important to research the pros and cons of the various platforms that we would need to succeed and ask people who actually use them daily their opinions. Our site is hosted on Shopify which works well for a range of budgets and provides various templates that suit most businesses.
It also links to Xero who we use for all of our financial needs. We’d both always had the support of Finance and Accounts teams so knowing where to be able to produce and pull off reports to get clear financial analysis on the business was important. Social media sites, especially Instagram literally behave as our shop windows. From brand identity to products, we can control everything that is on our channels and it’s where most of our sales come from still.
In the future, we’d like to be able to upgrade and invest in better, more advanced systems and build our own website so that it is truly unique, user-friendly and as effective as it can be.
What do you know now that you wished you had known before?
That some months will be better than others. It sounds obvious but some months are great and we’re floating on air as sales are high, we’ve won an award or been featured on a TV show and others we can’t work out why sales are slower, traffic to the site is down, etc but it’s taking a moment to appreciate that life is like that. Retail sales trends have always been around and we have definitely learned from them but they still came as a bit of a shock for some reason.
Image Credits : Carli By Photo
What has been your greatest or proudest achievement or moment?
We are both so proud that we had the balls to do this to start with and have managed to get a new box out each month that customers love. Every note or email we get from a customer saying how much they love their box is what makes us proudest though for sure.
What future life goals do you want to achieve and why?
We want to be the first brand that springs to mind when consumers are looking for a gift to buy a mum. It’s as simple as that.
To finish our inspire 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?
Ask for help. We consider ourselves experienced and capable but we also know that we are just two people who can’t do it all. Ask others who have been where you are now but ask friends and family too as they’re often the most honest whether you want them to be or not!
“Thank you it has been great learning more about your founder story and Oh Mumma”
To learn more about Oh Mumma Visit ohmumma.com
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