My School Days, a new term for Kelly and Clare
It is always good to write about new local businesses, especially when they have come up with an exciting new idea. Meet Clare Goodman and Kelly Barnes, both friends live in Winchmore Hill with their families. Clare has Holly, Penelope and Dixie and Kelly's children are Charlie and Alex. Clare worked in the City in stockbroking and Kelly as an operations manager for the BBC, where she still works.
They met through their husbands, who have been long standing friends, since scouting days. The two couples often holidayed together and once the children came along Kelly and Clare began to brainstorm ideas for a business which they could start up together and run from home, so that they could develop an income, but still have more time to spend with the children.
The friends had decided even before they had the 'big idea' that they were going to name their business Copplestone and Brown, their maiden names, which they felt had a distinctive ring and would at least make it easy to buy a domain name!
Potential business ideas were several months in gestation and the Eureka moment came when Kelly's oldest child Charlie was about to start school last September and she couldn't find a suitable scrapbook or album to keep photos and momentos of his school work. Kelly had had a similar scrapbook herself as a child and wanted to continue the family tradition with her own children. She hunted on the Internet and could only find American versions, which weren't appropriate, so they realised that there was a gap in the market, thus Copplestone & Brown's product 'My School Days' was born!
Like many home based businesses, the planning took place around the kitchen table, after the children had been put to bed. They tested the concept informally amongst other mums and family and the response was very positive. The next step was to design the look and feel of the product and this was done with a local designer, who was a friend of a friend. The product design and website design were done in tandem, since C & B realised that the site was vital for them to market the product, both locally and to develop online sales.
My School Days has a section for each year and includes spaces for:
* A school photo
* A list of your child's teachers and subjects
*A list of your child's favourite things
* What your child did for that year's holiday and birthday
* Special events and memories for each year
* Your child's achievements for each year
* A wallet to hold precious mementoes and keepsakes
The books are printed and hand made in the UK and Clare and Kelly took possession of their first 'Memory books' in late Autumn. To test the market, Clare and Kelly began selling them at local school Christmas fayres and got a good response, with many parents buying multiple copies so that they could compile one for each child, with extra copies to give as Christmas presents to grandparents. They were also lucky in securing an order with Leapfrog Nursery, who handed out a flyer to all their parents and are now marketing it to parents in some of their other nurseries.
The first few months have gone well and C & B have learned a lot about how to market My School Days in the past few months and they are rapidly getting through their initial stock of 1,250 memory books.
The website went live this week (June 5th) and they are now planning to racket the business up to the next level. They realise that they need to get their production costs down and sadly this is likely to mean having to source from abroad, but Clare and Kelly want to keep the price point down to enable as many parents as possible to be able to own such a wonderful keepsake.
Once Clare and Kelly have secured more favourable printing rates, they should be able to enhance the books, enabling schools to have copies printed with the school emblem. They are also starting to have discussions with school photographers, about joint marketing. With 23,000 + schools in the country this could be a big opportunity
Working with your best friend can be a risky business, thinking about the old adage about not doing business with your friends. However, Clare and Kelly believe that they are a good team, with complementary skills. !
If you are want to buy your own copy of My School Days, you can buy it for £19.99 plus p&p from the Copplestone & Brown website. However Clare and Kelly would like to offer a 10% discount to n21online.com readers, so contact them via email if you would like to take advantage of their discount. Which ever way you order, it is a small price to pay for a life time treasure.
If you think this is a good idea for your children's school, nursery or playgroup, get in touch with Kelly and Clare. Like many good ideas, it is simple and will give your children a great momento of their childhood, whether or not they are the best days of their lives. Googling quotes on childhood, to finish off this article, this one seemed especially appropriate, "Childhood is a short season" said Helen Hayes, so enjoy it while it lasts!
Potential business ideas were several months in gestation and the Eureka moment came when Kelly's oldest child Charlie was about to start school last September and she couldn't find a suitable scrapbook or album to keep photos and momentos of his school work. Kelly had had a similar scrapbook herself as a child and wanted to continue the family tradition with her own children.