How many of us have searched for that perfect gift for someone going through a hard time, flowers don't quite cut it and what do you get man?
That's just where Helen, founder of Brown Paper Packages found herself when looking for a positive, practical gift to aid her brothers recovery. I caught up with Helen to find out more.
Tell me a little about you and your background?
Most of my career has been spent working for large clothing retailers and fashion brands. After completing a graduate scheme in Buying, I went on to work for a number of US fashion brands including Timberland and Converse, managing the retail and wholesale product offer in European markets.
How did the idea come about to set up Brown Paper Packages?
My younger brother suffers from Crohn’s disease and after several hospital admissions I was desperate to send a package that could help occupy his time during recovery. I couldn’t find a gift box or basket on the market that offered positive and practical gifts and activities suitable for someone with a chronic illness, so I decided to create one, and Brown Paper Packages was born! Our gifts are suitable for not just those suffering from Chronic Illness but Men, Women or Children facing a difficult time in their life.
What is the ethos of Brown Paper Packages?
Our strap line ‘give the gift of a life lift’ runs throughout everything we do, including our social channels. We hope to inspire people to do something new that will help them to feel lifted.
How do you balance work and family life?
Balancing work and family life is an everyday challenge as most people experience I’m sure. I am by no means super woman so unfortunately with two small children I need to be very patient. Carving out pockets of time in the morning (when I’m at my best) works best for me.
What is the dream for your business?
I’m really passionate about our brand and ethos and about bringing a little bit of a lift into people’s everyday lives. Long term I’d love to take this into new products and services and curate a wider offer for our audience.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how have you overcome it?
I think I encounter a new challenge every week but my biggest challenge is not having support from expertise like in a large corporation (marketing, sales, logistics, IT). On a positive you can learn anything these days. And learning something new and putting it into practice can feel really great.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
For me your sense of achievement is heightened when you work for yourself. Creating a brand that resonates with people is a real highlight. To know I have helped someone to express support when a loved one is suffering a difficult time is a privilege and a highlight.
Any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
No matter how much time we spend with our kids we all feel ‘mum guilt’. Motherhood is packaged in so many different ways. These days and it can be easy to compare our circumstance to others. My advice is to try and live ‘comparison free’ and trust in your own choices for your family. Be kind to yourself. Think about how you talk to yourself and remind yourself about what you do well for your family. I think it’s important to remember we all have bad days and we are all trying to do our best.
What advice would you give to other mums starting their own business?
There is a fantastic mum-entrepreneur community out there so draw on it where you can. Skill swapping and sharing your workspace are fantastic ways to gain support in the early days. Remember what you have achieved and look past the bad days.
What is your favourite Brown Paper Package?
Our Wellbeing Gift Box is one of our best sellers as well as a favourite of mine. It promotes taking time out to focus on your own Wellbeing and is an ideal gift for any mum or friend facing a tough time. The Wellbeing Journal has been thoughtfully crafted in partnership with Mind to help the reader practise creativity and reflection, and record thoughts, feelings and experiences. If someone you know has suffered illness, bereavement or loss such as a miscarriage, this gift box could offer a way to express themselves and will certainly help them to feel your support.