As part of our popular Inspirational Female Founder Series, we caught up with Laura Schmidt of Lovendu to learn about her entrepreneurship journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I went to the University of Warwick to study psychology. I graduated and did what most grads do, I started a grad job in marketing. I worked there for a year and hated it. So, then I decided to go back to university to complete my master’s in Forensic Mental Health, where I graduated top of the class. After, I worked in an IAPT service, I volunteered in a clinic for sexually abused and was going to do my PhD but I got cold feet.
I’ve always been unsure what I wanted to do with my career. My dream job has always been an entrepreneur but never thought it would become a reality. However, the accumulation of my experiences made me the perfect person to start Lovendu.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I have always struggled with my mental health, since the age of 8. And within the last few years it has got particularly worse. When the pandemic hit, my mental health was at rock-bottom. I found I was really struggling just getting through the day. I knew I needed to do literally anything to help so I started journaling my feelings. I started to journal every single day. Over time, I found that I was sleeping better, I was more productive and I felt better in terms of my mental health. I wanted to share this practice with the world and wanted to use my knowledge of psychology and therapy experience to create a guided journaling experience that people can use to be the best versions of themselves.
How did you achieve awareness?
I owe a lot of my business’ awareness to Tiktok. It gave me the opportunity to get the business in front of lots of different eyes and I’ve also worked on a couple of campaigns with Tiktok. Soon after, people loved the products so much they were recommending them to their friends, families, therapists, etc. it then grew via word of mouth.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I started the business with £10. I had no money to start the business with so I had to adapt to the situation. I bought a sample of each product to photograph and put on etsy and then when I made orders, I would buy more stock. I haven’t had any loans or investment which has been a proud achievement of mine
What are the key successes?
In December 2020, I did a campaign with Tiktok for small businesses. As I mentioned before, I have actually worked with Tiktok on a few campaigns and collaborated with other businesses. It was amazing seeing such a huge platform not only recognise my business but promote it too.
More recently, December 2021 was a huge month for us. We had a record-breaking month which is amazing.
But ultimately, the most important success of the business is creating products that help people and they love. I get messages daily from people saying how much they love them or have helped and it’s undoubtedly the best part of the business and my job. People tell me that I’m inspiring but really they’re the ones who inspire me to keep going with the business.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
I think a big challenge was tackling the transition of the business from the pandemic to a non-pandemic world. For over a year, my business was born and grown in the pandemic. People were home more, spending more time online and less time out socialising. A big challenge was to find my footing in a post-pandemic world when fewer people are scrolling through Tiktok. It gave me time to build up other sales channels and really focus on brand awareness.
What are your plans now/for the future?
The plan has been the same for a while, to keep growing and helping people. It’s been great listening to customer feedback and what else we can do to help. I just want to inspire women to better themselves and work towards a life they love.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
For most of my life, I wasn’t really sure about what I wanted to do. However, part of me always knew I wanted to be some sort of entrepreneur and I put it off for so long because I was worried about what people would say. I think my advice would be to stop letting the opinions of others dictate your life. If you want to start a business, just do it! Be authentic to yourself.
Can you share your top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success?
Failure is needed to succeed.
Don’t compare yourself to businesses who claim to achieve six figures in two minutes. It’s amazing and so inspirational, but that’s what it should remain as. Inspiration; a sign that you can one day earn like that too. Give yourself a realistic and fair timeline.
Focus on how your product is different and solves a problem. Everything is so saturated, you need to differentiate from the crowd.
The people behind the brand are becoming just as important as the product. Don’t be afraid to talk about you or your journey. A good example is Duo the Owl who has overtaken Tiktok. Social media marketing is more than showcasing your products, it’s a place to find a community.
Something I’ve previously mentioned, is just be you. Be authentic to yourself and don’t try to be another business.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
My Mum, the most self-sacrificing person who can overcome anything. She helps packaging orders and supports my business and choices.
Ben Francis- it’s nice to see a hugely successful entrepreneur from a working-class background with a bit of a brummy accent! @benfrancis
Steven Bartlett- his eloquence and self-awareness is something I aspire to. @steven
Jacqueline Gold- Her story is incredible. Makes me believe that I can still achieve anything despite adversities. @jacquelinegoldcbe
Grace Beverley- her mission for sustainability and dedication to her businesses is incredible. @gracebeverley
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
Growth is growth, no matter how small.
Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come. – Dwayne Johnson
Don’t compare your start to someone else’s middle.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
Lovendu Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lovendu_/
Laura’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lauraschmidt.__/
Lovendu’s Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@lovendu