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Lauren de Graaf

Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Lauren de Graaf

Lauren de Graaf is the co-founder (along with her Husband, Quinten) of the premium children’s lifestyle brand, Heidi Rose London, which launched in 2021. 

Australian-born Lauren grew up in the Bahamas, where she met her husband, Quinten. The couple had their first child, Marius, and soon welcomed their daughter, Heidi Rose, into the world. Lauren, whose background is in Health and Wellness, naturally sought to discover the very best organic products for her children. She found that sustainable, natural products and environmentally-friendly play accessories were hard to find. The family decided to leave their island roots behind for an adventure in the big city. They made the move to London, welcomed their third child, Balthazar, in 2018 and finally decided to take matters into their own hands. After considerable planning, (a lot of late nights!) and a fourth child, the Heidi Rose brand was born.

Alongside running her business full-time, Lauren is a mother of four (Marius, 7, Heidi Rose, 6, Balthazar, 4 and Clementine, 6 months), having given birth to her youngest just a few months after the launch of Heidi Rose London. Lauren is also involved in several philanthropic endeavours.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I have a background in movement, health and wellness. In the years before having children, my focus was solely on people’s well-being. I spent years teaching Pilates, health coaching and getting individuals’ bodies into alignment. After having children I had a sudden surge of inspiration, a burst of creativity.

I have always loved designing and making things, but it wasn’t until having my little ones that I knew how I wanted to use that love. Heidi Rose London is a premium children’s lifestyle brand I first dreamed up while living in the Bahamas with my two eldest children. After having Marius and Heidi Rose, I got to work pretty quickly, party planning, decorating their rooms and seeking out beautifully designed and natural products. That’s when I had the desire to create my own brand!

All of our products are designed here in London by myself with my husband, Quinten, as my partner and enjoyed every day by our children Marius, Heidi Rose (the brand’s namesake), Balthazar and Clementine.

A timeless range of sustainable accessories, décor and clothing for little dreamers, the collection features enchanting reversible patterns with delicate touches to make every item unique. From pyjamas to playmats, to dress up accessories and blankets, everything is designed in London and handcrafted in India using the softest 100% organic cotton.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

Put simply, Heidi Rose London was born from a desire to celebrate my little ones’ milestones!

The idea for Heidi Rose first came to me after having my second child- the brand is her namesake! I am the type of mother who is constantly capturing my little ones’ moments and celebrating every possible wholesome event in their lives. When I became a mother, I became instantly inspired by my children and took great delight in designing the most whimsical spaces for them and throwing unique and magical gatherings to celebrate some of life’s most special milestones.

Having spotted a gap in the market for sustainable, unique and elegant ways to mark these special events, we set about creating a collection which brings high quality products into families’ everyday moments. Three years in the making, the brand officially launched in Summer 2021!

How did you achieve awareness?

I understand the impact social media has on society today. When we were building the business, my main focus was to get the brand out there on social media before doing anything else. I now realize how hard it is to gain a following on these platforms as a brand which is why we have been working with someone to assist on the PR side of things, too. Between social media, print, interviews, events and word of mouth we are steadily building brand awareness very organically. We hope to have a much greater reach in the near future but I feel we are off to a great start with a wonderful team around us.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

My husband and I decided to take a chance and invest in this business together. Although it is scary and more goes into this sort of thing than you might have thought, we believe in what we are doing and know it will be a success. As we grow, there might be an opportunity to get investors involved but for now we are small and growing one step at a time.

What are the key goals?

Ensure that our products are always safe for your littles

Always deliver a quality product to maintain trust between us and our customers

Be kind to the environment

Strive to be better at what we do with each passing day

Pour love into every product

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

There are obstacles and challenges every step of the way and in all areas of the business such as financials, production, logistics, testing and safety just to name a few. It’s been a huge learning curve for my husband and I. Developing a brand without a design background also has its limitations. You must rely on other people which can be frustrating as I want to be able to do it all myself. We did as many courses as we could whilst building this brand, raising a family and working on philanthropic endeavours but there is only so much one can do. I have to ask for help in certain areas which requires an immense amount of organization, planning and patience. I am learning fast and feel I am getting better with each passing day.

I am so grateful for my husband and business partner, Quinten, because when I am really stuck, he is there and usually pulls me up when I feel I am drowning. Between the two of us, we have been able to find a way through any issue that is thrown at us. If you have a solid business partner or team in place, the process will be easier to navigate.

The challenges are still here as each new day arrives and this will not stop, it might even become more challenging but we put our heads down and persevere because giving up is not an option for me.

What are your plans now/for the future?

We are currently working on completing the ‘Dream a Little Dream’ capsule collection in our signature ‘Bonnie’ and ‘Augustus’ prints. We have just launched our (already much-loved) reversible robe cover ups, which are just perfect post summer days by the pool or at the beach as well as snuggling up on chillier nights at home.

From there we are moving into more homewares and decor, offering some sweet little kits and kitchen items for you and your families to enjoy together. We will continue with a limited pyjama and clothing range and have a few other secrets up our sleeves.

You will start to see different prints and materials coming out by Summer 2022, so stay tuned! We are bursting with excitement to share more products with you. They can’t come soon enough!

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

Be prepared for a trek, launching our brand hasn’t been all blue skies and roses. There have been times where I feel extremely vulnerable and self-conscious and even question why I’m doing it at all. You’re likely to experience many challenges and obstacles along the way but with facing those challenges, comes great reward and blessings. 

If you muster up the courage to start the process and take baby steps, you are one step closer to reaching your dream. Perseverance is key, no matter how hard it gets. Keep pushing along and don’t be afraid to ask for help. This hasn’t been the easiest thing I have done in my life but it’s certainly one of the most rewarding.

I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I feel I am getting closer slowly but surely. As a mother of four young children, it’s really important I don’t miss out on their precious moments, so I have to continuously remind myself, life is a long race and building this brand will take time. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

So my advice to those who are dabbling with the idea of starting something on their own is; believe in yourself, get a good process in place, surround yourself with great people to support you and go for it! If you never try then you’ll never know.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Take the plunge- start the journey

Organize yourself and get your ducks in a row

Surround yourself with positive, hard-working, out of the box thinkers, they will inspire you and help you along throughout the process

Seize every opportunity, no matter how big or small

Cut those that hold you back loose

Work hard, be kind, be honest

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

  • Celia Muńoz, founder and creative director of La Coqueta kids. Not only has she created a charming, stylish and successful brand, she is doing so while raising five children under the age of 10. Now that is impressive!
  • Sophie Dalrymple, the owner and founder of Cotton and Company, a family- run company based out of Edinburgh. Sophie has developed a luxury homewares and childrenswear brand with a focus on quality and craftsmanship. Delivering products that are delicate and detailed all the while juggling two small boys. She has managed to create something rather extraordinary in the last few years.
  • Rebecca Hessel Cohen, the founder of LoveShackFancy. Rebecca has an undeniable ability to inspire. She knows how to make women feel elegant, beautiful, empowered and feminine. She is doing this alongside raising her two beautiful daughters and I just can’t say enough how impressed I am with what she has created over the past few years.
  • Raegan Moya Jones, the founder of Aden + Anais. A fellow Aussie whose book was recommended to me when I was building my own brand. I was truly inspired by her story. The lengths she went to get her brand off the ground. The hurdles she had to overcome to get her brand where it is today. A true Rockstar of a businesswoman and a mother of four gorgeous girls. If her story doesn’t make you want to go out and do something wonderful then I don’t know what will.
  • Morgan Smith, the founder of Minnow Swim and mother of three. She has created an internationally recognized children’s swimwear brand in a few short years. She juggled most of the workload and responsibilities on her own while simultaneously raising her young children. I absolutely love what she has created and hearing her story only gives me another burst of inspiration to get my brand to the next level and reach millions of happy customers. 
  • Last but not least, the two most important females who are the driving force behind all that I do… My daughters, Heidi Rose and Clementine. I am beyond grateful for them and I am honored to be their mother. They are strong, kind, clever, funny, conscientious, and utterly impressive. It is my mission to teach them, nurture and guide them to become whatever they want to be in this life and happily live to their full potential.

What are your favourite inspirational/motivational quotes?

  • You are the artist of your own life. Don’t hand the paintbrush to anyone else
  • Be the change that you wish to see in the world
  • Big journeys begin with small steps
  • Approach everything you do with love and the possibilities will be endless

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?

IG – @HeidiRoseLondon

Facebook – @HeidiRoseLondon

Pinterest – @HeidiRoseLondon

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