London-based mums Anna Wicks and Lesley Newsholme are the founders of teething jewellery brand Lara & Ollie. Created with the terribleness of teething in mind, their distinctive geometric bead necklaces and bangles are designed to soothe sore gums, whilst helping mums feel stylish again.
We caught up with the duo to find out more…
How did you two meet? And what made you want to launch Lara & Ollie?
We met through our local NCT class just before we had our first children and launched the business in March 2015, about 18 months after meeting.
We both love jewellery and accessories but quickly realised when we became mums that we couldn’t wear it unless we were away from the kids. Not only was it potentially pretty dangerous, we didn’t want anything broken!
We loved the concept of teething necklaces but couldn’t find much on the market that we liked – back then the UK teething market was fairly small. So we sourced some beads and made a few. We had amazing feedback from friends and mums we were getting to know locally – all of whom wanted to know where they could buy them. So we thought why not give it a go and here we are.
Where does your name come from?
No surprises here but our kids are called Lara & Ollie (Lara is Anna’s daughter and Ollie is Lesley’s son). We spent weeks thinking about the name and had all sorts of ideas. We wanted a name that was simple and didn’t directly refer to teething as we wanted to appeal to mums as stylish women and to keep our options open for the future. We always had our kids names Lara & Ollie in the mix and settled on it in the end – and our friends persuaded us to go for it!
What inspires you when you are designing new collections?
Our primary aim is to help mamas feel stylish. We know from experience that you can feel like you’ve lost your sense of style a bit when you become a mum. Every day you throw on the quickest and easiest outfit – for us it’s a standard jeans and t-shirt combo.
Our jewellery is easy to wear and quickly dresses up any outfit. With that in mind we take inspiration from current high street and catwalk trends when designing our new collections. So for example there was a huge trend for metallics in A/W16 so we launched a metallics collection.
This S/S the colour of the year is violet – it’s the stand out colour that dominated the catwalks. So we’ve launched a very bright collection featuring purple, lilac and violet shades – with an accent of zesty lime!
How do you run your business around your busy family lives?
We’re both full time mums and whilst Lara & Ollie have started some pre-school sessions and I (Anna) have 1-year-old Charlie too, so in the week they are still our priority. We work when we can in the day whilst the kids are at school and Charlie is asleep.
The reality of being self employed also means we work evenings and weekends too. It is however difficult to switch off. And sometimes the most important thing is to take time away from the laptops and phones and not talk about the business. It’s all consuming (in a good way!) but often the best ideas come when you’re not thinking!
We write big to do lists and prioritise, as well as divide and conquer actions – if we’re not organised in this way we’d end up spending most of our time in a tailspin. It’s not easy. But if you have a good idea that you really believe in, it’s exciting and motivating and that’s what keeps you going.
And finally, what’s coming up for Lara & Ollie this year?
As we’ve already mentioned we’ve launched our violet themed range for spring/summer, but have also launched a new necklace inspired by the other big trend that’s being referred to as ‘Crayola Brights’. We also have some exciting projects that are currently under wraps but will launch shortly.
We can’t reveal anything yet but we’re very excited about what this year has in store for us!! (Watch this Space!)