Behind The Business - What it really means to shop independent.

Three years ago today, with an 18 month old son and a baby bump big enough to hide my feet, I launched little maldod. I had no idea where it would go but had a burning desire to set up my own creative business and, after months (years) of talking about, just went for it.

If you'd have told me that three years on it would have grown into a viable business (that's saved me from a bureaucratic, corporate world I SO didn't want to return to post maternity) I would have been overjoyed. If you'd have also told me of the inspiring women, cherished friendships and amazing independent businesses I would encounter along the way I'd, quite frankly, have been gobsmacked. 

During the time I've been in business it's been amazing to see the 'shop independent' movement grow from strength to strength. Indeed, my business wouldn't be where it is today without the support of people 'shopping independent' and spending their hard earned pennies with me. I genuinely get a buzz every single time an order notification pings into my inbox.

So for those of you that have visited little maldod and have browsed and popped an order in, thank you! Shopping independent really DOES make a difference. I love that I can also make a difference to customers, with small touches that just aren't possible for bigger shops and brands to make. Whilst writing this the following email arrived in my inbox:

"Hi Lowri, I just wanted to say how beautifully wrapped my items were. It is lovely that I don't have to wrap them myself, and instantly made me feel all Christmassy. This is why I love shopping with independent stores like yours, the love and attention that goes into the products and then to the customer is above and beyond."

For me, those words are what it's ALL about!

It's hard to miss the catchy mantras and eye catching graphics on social media encouraging people to 'shop independent', they're such good reminders, particularly at this shopping frenzy time of year.

However I wanted to share a little more of WHY and what it really means to the people behind the business when you shop independent. 

I asked a few friends that I've met since starting up, all of them bosses in their own right - sellers, makers, designers and doers, to share their own testimony of what shopping independent means to them. I hope you enjoy reading and are inspired by their stories. If you click on each name it'll take you directly to their website so if you fancy a spot of shopping it couldn't be easier!

Blossom and Bear

- Fun, Colourful and Lovingly Made Items for You, Your Children and The Home

Running a small business allows me to channel my creativity into something productive and gives me the flexibility to work around my children. I can work in the evening and not miss that school play, sports day or school pick up. It means so much when people shop independent, it not only affects me and my business but my whole family! Plus it gives me a buzz to know people are enjoying products I have created.

Buddy and Bear

- Playful Design for the Modern Family

Presents are such a personal thing and knowing that someone has picked out our design from all the billions of possibilities to make a special little someone smile is the best feeling. Each and every order makes me think, wooooah, somebody wants this and I'm doing it as my job, with my family. And I love it! Shopping independent is truly supporting dreams and making a direct difference to the makers and their families.

Cotton Clara

- The Home of Colourful, Modern Textile Art

When people shop from me I feel very grateful and like I'm part of a great community. When I buy independent I imagine someone just like me, trying to do something creative and make 'work' work for them, and that makes me feel really happy that I can help make that happen.

Fable Heart

 - "Believe in Dress Up"

Shopping small becomes more important to me every year. I now buy less things, but much better things- so probably spend the same amount as when I used to go to high street stores looking for a bargain. The reason I shop this way now, is because I truly believe that the way you spend your money and who you give it to is worth so much more than a political vote. You can either choose to support people who pay fair wages, and know exactly where they manufacture. Or you can choose to line the pockets of a board of directors who abuse people they never have to see, in countries they have never been to, to increase their growth percentage that year. That is the choice you are making, and it is so important. Really look at where you are buying from. And support businesses who support people.

Hope and Rainbows

 - Bespoke, Personalised Wall Prints and Gifts for Babies and Children

I didn't fully appreciate just how empowering it would be to create my own brand and my own product range when I first set out, but shopping independent gives individuals like myself a huge boost.. a compliment..  the reassurance to keep creating, designing and making, and to offer our handmade alternatives in a world of mass-production.

Hobo Soy Candles

- Small Batch, Hand Poured Candles. Lincolnshire, UK

I feel amazed, excited and totally grateful when someone buys from me. The fact that they must appreciate the time and effort put into something handmade and that they can relate to my product as there's a lot of competition out there. 

Ingrid Petrie Design

- Contemporary Art For Happy Walls

It means the world when people choose to support small, independent, creative businesses like mine. I can never thank my lovely customers enough for choosing my designs for their homes and enabling me to grow and develop the business. There is such a good karma in shopping independent and I support fellow businesses as much as I can, encouraging family and friends to do the same.

Sleepy Doe

 - Children's Printed Sleepwear and Bedding, Designed and Made in the UK

For me shopping independent also means shopping local. Here in Bath there are so many inspiring, hardworking businesses and since moving here 5 years ago I’ve seen many grow from strength to strength, and it’s because local people choose to shop with them regularly. I have already experienced this support via Sleepy Doe, so it’s important for me and my family to reciprocate by supporting other independents as much as possible.

The Gray Store

- Design Led Personalised Items For All The Family

It's enabled me to set up my dream business and I couldn't have done this without the continued support of people shopping independently.

The Green Gables

- Green Gifts and Stationery to Spread a Little Joy

When a person orders from the green gables it means an enormous amount to me. Because my customers aren’t just buying a thing from me. They’re bringing something into their lives that I spent a long time dreaming up, creating and bringing into reality in its best form. I design and create each item with the intention of it being a positive addition to my customers' lives, and I’m honoured that they choose my stationery to spend their hard-earned money on. 

The Lovely Drawer

- Contemporary Prints and Stationery

Every person that chooses to shop independent rather than going to a generic high street store, means small businesses like mine can exist. I see every order come in, I package it all up and take it to the post office and every single one I'm so grateful for. It still feels like a dream that people want to buy things I've designed and made. It never gets old!