Updated: Dec 14, 2019
I'm extremely blessed to be in a circle with inspirational and empowering women who are working on their passions and working with dedication and determination to make their ventures their full-time gig. How many of you reading this working a 9-5 and feel like it is impossible to work on your own projects in the background? Over the next few months 'Women Who Slay' will be showcasing female powerhouses who are doing just that and are slaying their goals and making their dreams their reality. Meet Naomi Louise, creator of 'Naylou'- a fashion brand that encourages women to embrace their individuality and 'Love & Light Meditation' - A wellness brand that encourages self care and self love. Want to find out more about how Naomi is working to expand her brands? Read on.....
What were the contributing factors behind you starting your own businesses?
I started meditating and learning about Chakras in my 20's. When I realised the benefits of this I wanted to share it with others. Also, I’ve always been very creative and growing up often customised shop bought clothes. I would get a lot of compliments, so that was an indication that I should develop my natural skills further.
From the initial idea, how long did it take for you to plan and launch your clothing brand?
That’s a very good question. I’ve been designing and making clothes since I was a teenager and wanted my own line from a young age. Naturally, my style has developed as I’ve gotten older and what the business model was originally has changed numerous times, so I feel like Naylou has ‘launched’ a few times. It’s a process and as I’m constantly evolving, Naylou is too, that’s the beauty of working on your passion, there’s always so much more to come.
How did you fund your clothing brand to start with and what steps did you have to take to get it off of the ground?
I’ve funded Naylou solely myself by working full-time alongside it as I haven’t felt a business loan was the right thing for the business so far, nor have I had an offer from an investor that suited. Naylou is very personal to me so is more than just a brand and I wouldn’t want to lose creative control. Funding it myself does come with risks as I am reliant on my office job for the income, which I had a set back with when I lost my job a few years ago, I am also limited to the amount of time I can invest. Fortunately, I work fewer hours in the job I have now, so can invest more time. The first step I took was building on the brand's social media presence – connecting with people and then I attended my first networking event where I also had a pop-up stall.
As an independent business owner you often have to come up with innovative and cost effective ways to promote and market your brand. What tools have you adopted and how have they been productive in spreading the word?
Networking is key. I met one of my best customers at a networking event who has introduced Naylou to others. Pop up shops/ markets are great ways of getting noticed as people are there to discover new brands and to buy. It’s also very useful to be a part of and active in social media networks, especially with other like-minded entrepreneurs so that you can share ideas and be kept informed of what events are coming up that you could get involved in.
You managed to launch not one but two business ventures all while working full time, how have you managed to do this and what has been the pros and cons of launching your brands in this way?
It takes a lot of dedication. I am very passionate about both of my businesses and they are things that I have been developing for a very long time. I started designing over 20 years ago and meditating over 10 years ago, so they aren’t wavering ideas but things that have become a part of who I am. The main con of working full-time is time restraints. I work most evenings and weekends, but always find time to meditate. The pros are endless, freedom to do my own thing and express who I truly am, having control over the direction my businesses are going, seeing first hand how I am helping people and to be doing something that I truly believe in, and of course the financial reward, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Starting a brand and attempting to turn your passions into a form of income is by no means an easy feat but you have continued to grow and expand both your brands simultaneously. In the process what challenges have you had to face head on and what steps have you taken to over come them?
The main challenge I faced was when I lost my full-time job a few years ago. This put a halt on everything. I didn’t have the income to buy fabrics to make stock and I became very dejected. But I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and during this break I got to strengthen my meditation practice which then led me to become a qualified and accredited Meditation teacher. I founded ‘Love and Light Meditation’ (L&LM); a meditation service offering 1-2-1, couples and group sessions, teaching mindfulness, techniques for stress management and to encourage self-love, as well as offering holistic treatments such as Indian Head massage.
You have successfully created brands that are unique and intrinsic to your personality. With much if not all of the creative direction of your brands being led by you. What online tools have you enlisted to help you with creating your brand signature and identity?
The main online tool I use is social media – Instagram and Facebook. It’s a great way to reach a demographic you wouldn’t usually get to reach, for example, I had 15 attendees at my first meditation workshop and I knew only 3 of them before the day. Using online marketing tools really helps small businesses and you can set your own budget. Having an active e-mail address is a must; you'd be surprised how many companies, large and small, do not actively use their e-mail address. I always reply to my clients within 24 hours of receiving their messages as it sets a bad precedent if you keep them waiting too long and they can lose interest very quickly. Also, having a user-friendly online store is key. There are a lot of respectable platforms to sell on which give a smooth customer experience.
What has been the most valuable tip you have learned so far in business?
Have a plan in place. Not just a business plan, but a plan for every day, I have a list for my lists. Not everything will go to plan and things will change all the time, but without one it’s easy to lose focus on your goals. It also helps to map out your vision and purpose as well as with strategies, marketing, budgets, and target audiences. Having daily plans makes my days more productive.
How do you manage to balance your working/business life with your social life and how vital would you say it is to try and strike a balance between the two?
Entrepreneurship can be very isolating so it’s extremely important to find a good work/ life balance. I’m very lucky as my Mum and partner are incredibly supportive and they are who I spend most of my time with, plus my sisters are my best friends and they make me smile every day. I also make a conscious effort to schedule in social time with my friends, even if it is a month in advance. I do get to spend more time out of my fashion studio and with people though L&LM as well, which is amazing.
What is the unique selling points of your brands and how have you managed to carve out your niche in both markets?
Both my businesses interlink as they are authentic to who I am. Naylou was created for individuals who are carefree and can’t or won’t be categorised, while L&LM helps to encourage self-love, self-expression and being our authentic selves.
What is next for Naylou and Love and Light Meditation?
There’s a lot in the pipeline which I’m very excited about. So far this year I have acquired my own space for L&LM and am holding regular monthly group meditation sessions. I’m also currently writing a few new courses which will be launched later this year. Naylou clothing will be also be expanding and there will be new pieces available soon and I’m looking for stockists too.
What advice and or pearls of wisdom can you offer to other female entrepreneurs/business women?
Support each other! When women support each other incredible things happen. Do not underestimate the power of connecting and sharing ideas. One of my favourite quotes is 'a candle doesn't lose its flame by lighting another candle', all it will do is create more light.