BY NICOLA SPINDLER FOR PARENTFOLK MAG
With a fashion and textiles degree and 7 years experience working in large childrenswear department for an online retailer, mum of one, Joanne Hesketh, had gained the experience and confidence to create and launch a kidswear brand of her own, one obstacle she didn’t’ bank on was launching a business in a lockdown.
‘I’ve always had a creative instinct and flair”, says Joanne. “I was fortunate to start my career in fashion buying after returning from traveling, however it was following the birth of my daughter Dorothea two and half years ago, that I was inspired to create my own label, Little Dot to Dot.”
“Like many people, whilst on Maternity leave I created a long to do list of things to keep me busy! From learning how to bake, how to play piano, my plan was to be more creative, I even set my sights on learning a new language. How many of those things did I achieve? None, of course! I had a newborn and life took over! But throughout the year I dreamt about starting my own little brand as I was shopping a lot for baby clothing. Working in the industry I knew I had the skill set to make it happen, and my daughter provided all the inspiration I needed, including the idea for the brand name as she is my little Dot.”
Joanne had a strong business plan which included a strategy and an indepth understanding about who her customer was, her vision for the collection and her route to market.
“I took inspiration from my favourite independent brands and pulled together a look and feel board, I also made a diary of when those brands posted and noted how they talked to their customer over a long period of time.
The longest and hardest process was responsibly sourcing my supply base as I wanted my range to be organic and being certified by the Global Organic Textiles Standards (G.O.T.S) was an absolute must for my brand. I designed my range based on how I dressed Dorothea combined with a vision to bring to market a sustainable collection for kids.”
After much deliberation, research and a considerable amount of leg work, Joanne agreed terms with a manufacturer based in Turkey, a country leading in the production of children clothing.
“Turkey are well known in the fashion industry for childrenswear, it mattered that the supplier I finally placed my business with was certified by GOTS. Securing a manufacturer took the brand from the page to process. Whilst the product was in development stage I focused on finding other new key suppliers such as a photographer, but when it came to website development, with no budget left in the pot to out-source I had to overcome the fear and just do it myself, and I’m now so happy that I did.”
Joanne faced many challenges during her journey to set up, not least ensuring that her Turkish manufacturer understood British safety regulations, that her product was certified by the Global Organic Textiles Standards and that throughout she kept a close eye on costs, unit prices and margins. But the biggest challenge was going to be an unexpected one which would coincide with the marketing launch of the label
“Without question, marketing the launch of my business has been the biggest challenge. Just days after my launch, the country went into lock-down, so I faced new and unconsidered obstacles. But I am a believer that Obstacles are there to make you stronger. They’ve certainly made me work harder. Pushing forward during the difficult times is my biggest lesson so far. I’m still working my day job, albeit from home, so I’m only currently working on Little Dot in the evening once my daughter goes to bed. As my brand has an online presence only and my website is my shop window, I’m fortunate that I can run the day to day from home in the evening.
Overcoming some unexpected obstacles, including a global virus outbreak and subsequent national lockdown, certainly seems to have tested Joanne’s resolve early on, but it’s her vision for the future that is really inspiring.
“I want to grow this independent brand of mind. To see Little Dot become the go-to for sustainable children’s wear. My plans are to grow the range by Spring Summer 2021 and to introduce a confident boys wear collection including an ‘essentials’ range for both genders. The bigger dream? To be stocked in Liberty of London, and to grow a network of stockists beyond the UK.”