Inspirational Woman: Liz Rawlinson | Founder, Gus+Beau

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Liz RawlinsonTell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I have been working in the world of ecommerce since 2007, when I was PA to the Ecommerce Director at Liberty – or the Head of Internet as it was known back then! I went on to work for some fantastic and inspiring brands including L’Oreal, notonthehighstreet and Anya Hindmarch.

Whilst at notonthehighstreet, I realised I would love to run my own brand one day, like the thousands of partners selling on the marketplace. It was great to see so much passion from these founders every day.

Whilst on maternity leave with my son, Gus, I was looking for a playmat which would fit in with our interiors at home and I couldn’t find one in a colour or pattern that I liked. So I decided to design and manufacture my own. I went on to launch gus + beau in March 2019 with my first two playmat designs, Triangle and Circle. Our patterns are simple and in muted colours so that they can fit in to the modern home whilst creating a safe space for babies and children.

In September 2020, I left my role as Head of Ecommerce at Anya Hindmarch to run gus + beau full time.

I am a mother of three sons and live in Beckenham with my husband, Rolo. Our first son Beau was sadly stillborn in 2016. I was very lucky to go on to have two more sons, Gus and Jerry, our rainbow boys. Being able to speak Beau’s name every day is wonderful for me – he is the one who gave me the confidence to start my own brand.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always been ambitious from a young age. However, I never had a plan. I started my career working for artist studios in Notting Hill called Great Western Studios. I was surrounded by incredible creatives every day, running their own businesses and doing what they loved. It was a truly inspiring place.

When I joined Liberty, I found a love of ecommerce and was lucky to be involved in the launch of the Liberty website. I have worked in the ecom retail sector ever since and definitely benefited from starting in the industry very early on.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Many many challenges! During my career, some roles were more challenging than others – L’Oreal in particular was a very different environment to Liberty and wasn’t one that suited me. It’s a powerhouse brand and I learnt so much, but I struggled with the strict structure there.

Since launching gus + beau and working for myself – there are a completely different set of challenges. You are suddenly responsible for absolutely everything, from customer services to manufacturing the product.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Being able to launch a business and work for myself is my biggest achievement. We have sold over 4,000 playmats since we launched 2 years ago and now sell to Jo Jo Maman Bebe, Kidly and Scandiborn.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I would say the biggest factor has been my upbringing. I am the second eldest of 8 daughters and our parents always tell us we can do whatever we want to do and the most important thing is to be happy. We were never pushed in any direction by them. Having the support of family and friends has been hugely beneficial to me.

I have also always been very confident which I think has helped me along the way – whether that is in interviews or working with colleagues during my career. When I decided to start my own business, I was confident it would succeed and do well. I believe part of that comes from experience tragedy with my son Beau, so I felt very fearless starting something new.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I haven’t ever had a mentor however I would love one – it can be a very lonely place running your own business. I would also love to help other women, mums in particular, in taking the leap to start your own business and run it full time.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Childcare in the workplace and flexible working. A good thing to come out of the global pandemic is the acceleration in flexible working. After having my first son, Gus, I did really struggle settling back in to the work environment and working 9 – 6. My main goal in working for myself was so that I could be in control of my time and be able to take my sons to and from school when the time comes.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

We are introducing new products to gus + beau this year, including a collaboration with Miffy.

I want gus + beau to be the destination for beautiful baby puzzle playmats and start to expand in to other product areas too.

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