We’re always interested in how other women make a success of their businesses, expecially when they take a homegrown idea and spin it into entrepreneurial gold. Having met each other on the school run, Suzi Bergman and Melanie Marshall are two such women. Having clicked as friends, they joined forces and launched Storksak, a luxury line of baby changing bags, from home. Toted by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba (and Natasha and I when we first had our children!), the bags are some of the most stylish on the market and a decade on business is booming with over 100,000 sales a year. Having recently expanded into organic bath and body products for children, Storksak is going from strength to strength. Read on to discover how Melanie and Suzi tell did it AND find out how you can win a gorgeous Storksak Organics Baby Spa Set.…
How did you both meet?
We originally met on the school run more than ten years ago! Our sons were friends at primary school, so this is how we were introduced and we struck up an immediate friendship.
When and why did you first come up with the idea for Storksak?
Mel: I was inspired to launch a collection of changing bags when I had my first son, and found that there weren’t any changing bags on the market that looked luxurious and stylish, but inlcuded all the function I needed too. Having worked as a fashion designer for many years I decided to create the kind of bags me and my friends wanted and needed as busy new mothers who didn’t want to lose our personal style.
Was it your first business idea together? If not, what else did you think of doing?
Before that we had been really busy raising our children, so there hadn’t been too much time for other ideas but we both knew we were ready for something new when we met and I think we were definitely one of the first ‘mumtrepenuers’ ten years ago to launch a business whilst juggling our family commitments!
What were you doing before launching Storksak?
Suzi: Before we went into business together I was a lawyer and law professor, and Mel was a fashion designer, having previously worked in-house for several major fashion labels. We both found that these very different skill sets and experiences complemented each other perfectly for the smooth running of our business.
Was Storksak a hit from the off or did it take a while to catch on?
We were very lucky that early on Storksak really took off in the US in a massive way. When Angelina Jolie was photographed with her family carrying our Gigi bag interest in the brand really began. Following that, Brad Pitt, Jessica Alba, Danni Minogue and subsequently, numerous celebrities started using our bags and the word spread on a global level. Storksak is now sold in over 25 countries throughout the world and has won several awards which makes us really proud. We’ve also launched a high street changing bag brand Babymel, which also has a line of cute ‘Explorer’ children’s backpacks and lunch bags that we’ve added to the range.
Why did you decide to launch Storksak Organics?
With Storksak established, it just felt like the right time to develop an all-natural high quality range of baby skincare products which we could be proud of and would use on our own children. The products are all made in England with the finest organic ingredients, formulated and tested by world-renowned skincare experts in Grasse. We don’t use any parabens, SLS, mineral oils, petrochemicals or synthetic fragrances in Storksak Organics. Plus very importantly there is no unnecessary, expensive packaging – it is all easy to use, recyclable and reusable, and features beautiful illustrations by artist Stuart Patience.
Have there been any moments when you were juggling children and a new business, when you thought ‘we must be crazy?’! Or did you always have faith it would work?
Obviously with young children some moments have been testing as we travel all over the world from time to time seeing manufacturers and stockists. However, because we are both mothers and our company deliberately was set up to allow the flexibility that parents need we both are able to make it work. We also have a hugely supportive team in our North London office that help keep us grounded, and of course have wonderful families at home.
How do you juggle family lives with working on Storksak? Any tips for our readers?
We both still manage to pick up our children from school and have got very good at prioritising things so that the important things always get done.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
The flexibility it allows and the creative freedom to design the products we know work in terms of practicality, looks and ultimately quality. All our designs are created in-house with our own illustrations and print, and we also are careful to handpick our own production houses and make sure that all our products are made in factories that we have visited to check that we are satisfied with good working conditions for their employees
And the worst?
Obviously, it can be stressful at times, but I think all businesses can!
What advice do you have for people wanting to launch their own business?
Be prepared to put the ground work in – in the old days Mel and I went to see all our buyers ourselves. Even though the company has grown massively since then we still do a lot of the buying appointments as it gives the company a personal touch that sets us apart.
For your chance to win a Baby Spa Set (including Baby Wash & Shampoo, Baby Lotion, Baby Balm, Baby Oil and Organic Hand & Face wipes – worth £35), please email email@example.com with Storksak competition in the subject line.
The competition closes at 6pm on Tuesday 8th December. Winner picked at random. One extra entry for anyone who shares this post on Facebook. One extra entry for anyone who follows Wear & Where (@wearandwhere) on Instagram.