I used to think that my millennial wife life was busy. Then, I interviewed Laura Nunn of Lovable Little Tree Huggers and realized that adding two little boys to the mix makes my “busy” pale in comparison to hers! (Apparently children are much more work than mini schnauzers). Laura is wife to youth pastor Andrew and in addition to having a toddler (Ethan) and infant (Seth) sons, she keeps busy mentoring other people’s teens at Acton Beth-el Christian Reformed Church.
But if that wasn’t enough, Laura’s name can be added to the growing list of “MOM-preneurs,” a newly coined term in recent years that describes moms who establish businesses at home while also acting as the full time parent of their children. But Laura would blush if she heard me calling her an entrepreneur. In her mind, she’s just a mom who cares about the products she uses on her family, but I’ll let you decide! Either way, you have to agree that she’s a stellar example of someone who turned a passion into a thriving business!
Laura, please describe your business in a nutshell for people who are new to Lovable Little Tree Huggers!
Gladly! Lovable Little Tree Huggers is an online natural baby product store that primarily carries cloth diapers, organic bath products and “babywearing” products.
Where did the idea to start your own “green” baby product store come from?
Well, I was always a person who was conscious about the types of products that I used on my body and within my home. I am the kind of person that separated recyclables even when I was camping! When I had Ethan and became a parent for the first time, that “environmental” part of me naturally extended to parenting. In fact, I would say I thought about the types of products we used even more once a baby was added to the mix. As Ethan grew up and we entered the world of “green parenting,” I noticed that there were so many different products and options and available (especially with cloth diapers), and we naturally discovered some that worked best for our family on a trial and error basis. Eventually, I found myself sharing that knowledge with friends and fellow parents, so the idea for a store was born out of a desire to pass along the knowledge we gained from testing the products ourselves.
What’s it like being a small business owner?
First, I never expected to be a small business owner. The idea actually scared me because I did not consider myself a business owner at all. If it wasn’t for my husband Andrew who kept pushing me to go for it, I’m not sure I would have taken that leap! But now that I’m doing it, I have to say that I love it because I’m so passionate about what I’m doing. When I first set up the business it was overwhelming. I had to figure out all of tax, registry and website stuff. Luckily I have friends that were able to help me out with those things. Overall it’s a learning process! I’ve also participated in some mompreneur networking things like “TweetUps” and belong to a Mums and Chums organization which connected me with some great peers.
How do you promote your business?
Word-of-mouth is the main way that I attract new customers. Customers who have had a good experience with me often tell their friends and it’s through forming new relationships with people wanting to learn about cloth diapering or natural parenting that I get new customers. The gift registry is a very popular thing on my website and cloth diapering supplies are the most popular of the products. It can be a investment up front so it’s a great thing to be a gift registry. Andrew is also one of my biggest promoters – especially with the “dad” crowd. He promotes my products even more than I do, and it’s great because he can relate to the other men who are hesitant to start cloth diapering. Besides word of mouth, I also do some consumer shows. This allows people to touch and feel my products before they order.
What are some of the challenges?
The biggest challenge is always time. There is always something to do, something I could improve on the website, new products I could look into, different marketing things I could think of. But for me, being a stay-at-home mom is my primary responsibility and focus. I’ve tried setting aside certain days or evening where I can focus solely on the business but sometimes that’s not only possible. Thankfully, my husband Andrew has been a huge supporter from day one so if I need to do some work on the business he’s always there to help me I started this business because of a passion to help others, not with the intention (at least right now) to grow this into a huge operation. Running a business is a challenge and a blessing – it allows me to contribute to our household and to focus on my family.
The other challenge I find I face is balancing my desire to provide natural product as affordable as possible with my desire to still make a decent profit. Many times I find myself hesitant to charge what I really need to!
What is your definition of success for Lovable Little Tree Huggers?
A lot of people ask why I’m not doing more things to push my business. But to me, success is meeting couples and then watching them convert to “green-parenting.” I find it awesome! If I was able to make the world of cloth diapering and natural parenting accessible and attainable to people, that feels like success! The fact that I get to make a little extra money while doing so is like the icing on the cake. Being an educator, influencing people in my circle, providing talks at the Early Years centre, and helping people who don’t know where to start is success in my mind. It is less about millions of customers and more about building a base of happy, satisfied people.
What is your plan for your business in the next five to ten years?
That’s a good question. Well, I don’t want it to be huge. I want to stay home with my kids. If it grows when they are in school that’s good, but I don’t envision growth in a bricks and mortar type of store, I always want to be able to run this from my home and stick to my core products. I’ve actually declined inquiries for franchising because I want to keep this at a manageable size that I can control from my home in my available time.
And of course, converting more people to natural parenting is a goal!
What advice do you have for other millennial women who are thinking of starting a business?
First, you absolutely must have a passion for what you are selling. I’ve seen friends do things like bakeware and scrapbooking reps, but they end up hating their job because they weren’t overly passionate about it. The other thing I would say to young women who are thinking about starting a business is to just go for it! There is so much information and resources and friends that are willing to help you out with the things you don’t know, and as long as you have a passion and see a need it’s worth trying out!
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I asked Laura if there were any plans to carry natural dog shampoos in the future and she said she would have to think about it. But regardless, I was so impressed with her passion and products that I’ve decided future Howard IV will most definitely sport cloth diapers!
Let me know your thoughts about Laura and Lovable Little Tree Huggers! Would you ever consider “green parenting?”
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Disclaimer: Just because I mentioned “future Howard IV” does not entail I agree to, or am making any promises to name any offspring “Howard.” The reference in this post was strictly intended for humorous purposes.