Inspiring Parents: Rock of Feather Interview
Welcome to my first Inspiring Parents feature. Where I interview parents that have been inspired to do something different with their lives after they have had children. Be it start their own business, tackle a huge sporting feat or change their lifestyles all for the better. You can read more about the concept in my introduction post here.
Today I am interviewing two best friends – Natasha and Amelia who have started their own business – Rock of Feather. A jewellery brand whose beautiful pieces can also be used as teethers for babies. While Amelia is a Mum to Arthur, Natasha has furry babies instead, but they have both been inspired to start their own business perfect for Mums.
1. Tell us a bit about Rock and Feather. What made you decide to start your own business?
Natasha: We’d both wanted to run our own businesses for a while and for years we had been bouncing around ideas – some great and some not so good! We knew we wanted to run a business together as we both have complementary skills and work well together. It was just finding something we could do that had legs but that we could also fit around our lifestyles.
2. How did you come up with the concept and the name?
Natasha: The concept was Amelia’s idea really. She had seen similar products whilst travelling in the US. Her son Arthur had really taken to them and when she came home and showed me the product, we realised that it was something that we could really bring to life over here. Chewable jewellery for teething isn’t a new phenomenon here in the UK and there are of course other businesses selling silicone jewellery products, but for us we didn’t want to just sell products, we wanted to create a brand. Our aim was to create a beautiful brand that people would feel proud about purchasing either for themselves or as gifts for their friends. We wanted to create an overall Rock of Feather experience – from making a selection from a small, yet carefully curated selection of on-trend jewellery, to getting to know us via our blog and ultimately, to receiving the jewellery in one of our gorgeous, yet handy little bags.
Amelia: The name Rock of Feather came from Natasha. It was the result of a brain storming session on one sunny afternoon in my garden. To me it doesn’t just represent the jewellery itself – which is both soft and chewable but also strong and safe, but also the two of us and the two sides to both our personalities. On the one hand we are half rock – responsible, reliable and grounded, but we are also half feather – light-hearted, free-spirited, creative and, occasionally, a little too impulsive and flighty. And we think most women are the same, especially those of us who are mothers. We have to be a rock, because our children and our families depend on us. But we are also feathers: individual, free-thinking and independent spirits.
3. Did you both give up your day jobs when you started the company or did you start it around your work?
Natasha: We always knew we had to construct a business that had to fit around our day jobs and other responsibilities – and there are definitely some days were there aren’t enough hours! It’s good fun though and it’s exciting to see what will happen over the next 6 – 12 months.
Amelia: I’m far too risk averse to start a business which required me to give up my day job! I wanted to do something that was flexible around my job, but which had the potential to evolve and grow over time.
4. I know this only applies to Amelia, but as a parent how do you manage running your own business around your family?
Amelia: With great difficulty! It’s hard running a business, however small, when you have a full-time job and a child to put to bed at the end of the day. But it’s amazing how much you can achieve if you really put your mind to it. I get most of my work done on the commute to and from work – fortunately a lot of what I do can be done on a laptop. I also have to give a lot of credit to Natasha – she’s really been the one coming up with the marketing agenda and giving me tasks and deadlines. Without her, I’m not sure I would have had the motivation!
5. How is it working with your best friend? How do you resolve arguments? Do you have any?
Natasha: The thing about Amelia and I is that we have known each other nearly 25 years and over that time I could be wrong but I think we have only ever had one argument! We are lucky that we do generally have the same view on things but on the odd occasion that we don’t, we just talk things through and find a mid-way point that we are both happy to agree on. As with any relationship there is an element of give and take.
Amelia: We’ve actually had two arguments – one was in the prep room at school and it involved a colouring book. I’m pretty sure you hit me over the head with it. The second was when we were on holiday in France and you refused to clear up your make-up from the kitchen table. The good thing about Natasha is that it’s very obvious when she’s not happy about something and that makes her very easy to communicate with!
6. What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Amelia: In a business context, it’s been getting the company launched and our products ready to sell. I never realised how much work would be involved, but everything takes so much time. Natasha and I both like to do things properly as well, so everything from the legals, to the manufacturing process, to the product range, to the marketing, to the packaging, to the website, to the blogs have been meticulously researched and thought through. The benefit of all that work though is that you can be extra proud of yourself when it’s all finished!
7. And your greatest challenge?
Natasha: Getting our name out there! We are a really new business and we don’t have a massive marketing budget so we’re working really hard to get traction within our market.
Amelia: For me it’s maintaining the momentum. I’m the sort of person that likes to finish a project and see immediate results. It’s quite hard when results are not immediately forthcoming! But Natasha keeps me motivated – mainly by sending me things to do!
8. What are your favourite items from the collection?
Natasha: I love the Nightjar in Onyx and Granite. It’s really edgy and I wear it quite a lot when I’m out and about in London. Silicone jewellery doesn’t just have to be born when you have a baby in tow – it looks great any time!
Amelia: For me it’s the Kittiwake in Cream and Quartz. I love the length and texture of it and it looks great with all my casual tops. Plus Arthur loves to chew on it!
9. What are your plans for the future?
Natasha: Later on this year we will be bringing out our new AW15 range which will be a lot moodier than our light-hearted SS15 range. In the long term that we have some ideas for turning Rock of Feather into more of a lifestyle brand, so we’ll see how that all pans out.
10. If you could give any advice to other people and in particular parents thinking of setting up their own business what would it be?
Natasha: Don’t under estimate how much time businesses take to run! Really think long and hard about how much time you can commit in order to do your business justice. And if that’s all good and you have a cracking idea, then go for it!
Thanks so much for your time Natasha and Amelia. I have to say as a mother myself Amelia I am not sure how you fit in working in working full time, starting and running your own business with being a mother of a small child too. I take my hat off to you. But I really look forward to seeing what you do in the future and what your autumn winter collection looks like.
You can read my review of the Rock of Feather Hummingbird bracelet later in the week.