Claire Harper is the founder of IndiaCoco, an award winning retailer selling great quality, handpicked British-designed childrenswear for children aged 0 to 8 years. Previously Claire was Marketing Director of nursery and fashion retailer Mamas and Papas where she spent five happy years. Claire lives in Yorkshire with her husband and two young daughters.
Describe a typical day for you?
I’m not sure if there is a typical day when you are a busy working mum. I have two lovely little girls; Coco (5) and India (2) so the day starts noisily, bright and early at 6.30am and then it’s all go getting them ready for school and nursery.
I am just about to open our first ‘Best of British’ childrenswear store in Wakefield, West Yorkshire so I am currently writing out endless ‘to do’ lists and often find myself adding to it in between making sure the girls are on track to leave the house at 7.45am.
I enjoy working for myself as it means I can do the school and nursery runs and still have that quick catch up with other mums in the playground! It’s then back to work and I spend the next eight hours juggling a multi-channel business so whether I’m managing our concession at award-winning Blacker Hall Farm, getting orders out from the online business or planning the shop opening it’s all go.
Once the girls are back from school and nursery I try and switch off and get back into mummy mode, although I can’t resist checking my emails and orders.
I am normally enjoying a large glass of wine and back on my laptop for the evening shift at around 8pm when the girls are tucked up and fast asleep.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I’ll always be proud of conquering my fear of heights and climbing a 50ft telephone pole while pregnant (first trimester) with Coco. I organised and ran a senior leadership away day for my team and didn’t realize we would have to climb the pole. I took a very deep breath and did it as I had to show leadership to my team and being pregnant was also a very big secret at the time!
Launching IndiaCoco in June 2012 with my husband and business partner, Lee Williams after spotting a gap in the market for a destination shop which housed original, well designed, practical and best of British childrenswear all under one roof is another big achievement.
Looking back on the launch of IndiaCoco just over twelve months ago, it’s hard to imagine how we got everything done. There’s so much about launching a new childrenswear brand that no-one tells you – the days spent worrying about the details of website, packaging, photography, design, social media and PR, and that’s not even touching on the technical elements around back end systems, reporting, business plans and legal stuff. And that’s just the details – the big decisions had to be made much earlier on. It is so exciting now, though, to start see the beginnings of an iconic lifestyle retail brand which has been a lifelong dream. It wouldn’t have got off the ground without the inspiration for the brand Coco (5) and India (2) and Lee who often feels outnumbered but I’m sure secretly enjoys all the female attention!
What’s in your handbag/satchel etc?
My iPhone, pens, notepads, purse along with a little bit of makeup and an emergency packet of baby wipes just in case they are required for the girls…they always come in handy, even when I’m not with the girls!
What are your ambitions in life?
To have a happy and healthy family and see the IndiaCoco brand grow and go from strength to strength.
What advice would you give your pre-baby self that you now know having had children?
Children come first and life changes so much for the better. Remember that when you are up endlessly in the night, woken at the crack of dawn and too exhausted to speak in the evening…it will all be worth it and remember everything is only a stage! Have a strong family unit and support system around you. Having a supportive husband and family is always a huge help and don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness. You have to learn to be extremely organized even if it doesn’t’ come naturally to you, it will make life much easier especially when there’s more than one person to think about.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
We plan to open our first IndiaCoco store over the next few weeks and we plan to roll out across the UK in community-based locations. IndiaCoco is now a multi-channel proposition.
We are also underway with some exciting web developments around mobile applications, embracing new technology and making it even easier for customers to order with us across all world.
We are very excited to be growing a strong brand. Our customers will always come first and we will continue to work extremely hard to really go that extra mile. Just over a year in, our adventure is only just beginning and we are off to a great start – this is just the beginning for IndiaCoco – every day brings new reasons to feel inspired and excited about our future.
What advice would you give a budding retailer?
Research your market, listen to the customer, develop a strong brand, be passionate and keep it simple at all times.
Finally, happiness is…
Being a Mummy, having a lovely husband, family, and friends and growing a successful business. You also have to find happiness from within, remain positive and be true to yourself.
Twitter: India Coco
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