Cecilia Crossley is the founder of From Babies With Love, a pioneering social enterprise that creates award winning, stylish and ethnically sourced baby clothes, toys and accessories. The company donates 100% of it’s profits to orphaned and abandoned children worldwide.
What inspired you to start a business?
When I became a parent, watching charity adverts about the hardship children face all over the world made me determined to make a difference. The emotions of becoming a parent fuelled my belief that every baby should have a fair start in life, no matter where they’re born.
I was out shopping for organic baby clothes when I thought to myself: if I could buy beautiful baby products and know the profit helps children in need, why would I buy anywhere else? And so From Babies with Love was born.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
They are perhaps two sides of the same coin – when I have a good day I feel huge satisfaction in respect of my role in making it happen; but when I have a bad day it’s just me feeling accountable for it. I’m pleased to say the good days vastly out number the bad!
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
I think being surrounded by supporters is important. Be they non-executive directors, mentors, stakeholders from clients to suppliers, having people to celebrate successes and figure out failures with is really helpful. Role models also motivate me. Dame Anita Roddick is one of my role modes, The Body Shop being a pioneer in corporate responsibility and conscious consumerism.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
I’ve had an interesting experience in learning to feel comfortable outside of my comfort zone. I began my career in the City as a Chartered Accountant and I’ve moved from an environment where I was continually trained in a specalised area, to one in which I create and invent every day – with no experience, no text book – I’m always in the deep end. Not worrying about that, indeed enjoying these situations, is something I’ve had to learn.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I’ve participated in formal mentoring programmes and have informal mentors, both of which I find invaluable. Mentors provide perspectives that are difficult to have myself, either because I am too close to the detail or I don’t have the experience. This is so helpful in creating opportunities and working through challenges.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
I think your network is one of your greatest assets. Networking has played a significant role in what From Babies with Love has achieved to date. Examples include finding most of our suppliers and winning the majority of clients for our corporate baby gift service through networking.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
As an accountant I suspect I’m at the risk averse end of entrepreneurialism. I regularly look at our forecasts and cash flow, and always use these to inform decisions and review our goals.
What does the future hold for you?
From Babies with Love has new product lines launching in the next few years, including wooden toys and children’s books, which we’re really excited about. We’re also growing our corporate business, we offer a Maternity/Paternity Leave Gift Service that contributes to HR goals in a unique way – because of the story of From Babies with Love. When staff take parental leave, they receive a gift from their employer that tangibly expresses the company’s people and community values. Because our gifts speak to the emotions parents’ experience, they reflect positively on the employer, contributing to engagement, retention and diversity goals.