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5 Minutes With Laura, The Crafty Koala Club

The Crafty Koala Club Laura Dawson

Welcome to our latest ‘5 minutes with…’

 

We are absolutely delighted to be talking to the wonderful Laura Dawson. Owner, and creator, of The Crafty Koala Club, Mum of 2 gorgeous girls and winner of our new year giveaway.

 

Laura, thank you so much for giving up your precious time to talk to us. We were so happy when you got in touch to say you’d love to be part of our 5 minutes with series. It’s been amazing to work with you and design and build your new website.

 

Firstly, a huge congratulations on The Crafty Koala. It’s such a brilliant business and has grown so much in such a short time. To start us off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be ‘Crafty Koala’

 
Of course. Hi, I’m Laura. I’m originally from Anglesey but settled in Birmingham 15 years ago where I met my husband Paul at work and the rest is history! We have 2 beautiful daughters, Penelope and Charlotte and have lived in Sutton Coldfield for the past 9 years. We honeymooned in Australia in 2012 and have had a huge love for the country ever since so when my new crafty business needed a name ‘koala’ seemed the natural and perfect fit! The idea came about when we headed into our second national lockdown in November, baby classes were closed and I needed something to keep Charlotte and me busy, I’d never thought of starting a business up until that point but so glad I did!
 

That is pretty amazing. The rest of us were just trying to get through the days!! We really were delighted when you were the winner of our new year giveaway and loved your business and branding immediately. How did you feel when you heard you had won your own website?

 
I was in complete shock. I knew when the winner was being announced and sat on the sofa constantly refreshing my emails and social media to see who had won. A website was something I could never have achieved on my own, I just didn’t have the skills or time it needed to make something I would be proud of. It also felt great to think that someone other than me and my family and friends believed in my idea.
 

We know that your family have really been involved in Crafty Koala and that your daughter is your fabulous ‘chief tester’ but we also know that a young family is hard work too. How do you try and balance life, family and work?

The Crafty Koala Club Laura Dawson

 

 

This has been really difficult, and I think will always be a challenge. Charlotte was 5 months old when I started and business was steady for my first Christmas in 2020. We then went into our third lockdown in January and business picked up with people looking for things to do together at home, but I then had a 4-year-old to homeschool, a baby to wean and kits to pack! Running a business and growing a business has been the biggest challenge. I’ve had to learn to slow down and move the business at a pace that fits with me and my family, I’m sure things would be very different if the business is all I did and I could dedicate all my time to it, but for now, it’s just part of our life and I want to keep it a fun part for all of us, so things might take a bit longer to launch, but it definitely makes it more manageable for us all.

 

To achieve what you have so quickly and with a family and a pandemic is really inspiring. What have you found that has worked for you?

 

It would also have been pretty impossible to get to this point without Paul! Whilst working full time he’s always ready to do a last-minute post-run, always on hand to help with a late-night packing session and helps keep on top of numbers and business admin for us.

 

He sounds like a massive support Laura and that you make a great team. You’ve had so much to do. You came to us with your branding and as we said we absolutely loved it from the beginning. What was important to you about creating The Crafty Koala? What advice would you have for people just starting, or thinking of starting, a new business?

 
I would definitely say do something you love, and if you have young children then why not do something that they can enjoy and do with you. Penelope and I have baked and crafted together since she was very very little so it made sense to me to do something crafty. Craft kits weren’t my first idea, although they were a part of it, and I used friends, family and coworkers to see what they thought and get feedback on price etc before I bought any stock. My main advice would be to keep things simple to start with, I had so many big ideas (and still do!) but launching one kit at a time when I was completely happy and proud of it meant I could keep true to the brand I wanted to create affordable beautiful crafts with quality materials.
 

I know that this isn’t all you do and you’ve had a career before creating Crafting Koala, and are actually heading back to work at the moment. How do you think your experience has prepared you for managing and building your business?

 
The Crafty Koala Club came about on my second maternity leave. On my first maternity leave with Penelope I was happy to completely immerse myself in mum life but this time, whilst still wanting to do that, I also wanted to keep my brain going! I’ve never planned to not return to work, and have been lucky enough to have a 3 day working week since having Penelope and so could see the possibility of keeping this going. I work in financial services and most recently as part of a digital team, I’ve always worked best in fast-paced teams juggling multiple pieces of work at any one time….and this has definitely prepared me for being a mum to 2 and running my own business and all the responsibilities that come with it!
 

Has there been any surprises along the way?

 
The amount of admin.. that I hand over to Paul.. has surprised me! From monthly accounts to liability insurance, that is all him.. I’m just here for the craft!

 

Well, you are obviously really good at it. It’s so lovely to see all of the reviews of your products and the kids getting creative, and of course, all the birthday parties that you are doing. What have been the highlights for you?

 

I love packing up a gift box, especially a custom order, and writing the gift messages from friends and family to put inside, but people trusting me with their party bags and party activities more recently has been a real highlight for me. I know how much preparation and thought can go into children’s parties and so to be a part of that and their special day is amazing.

Before this, my proudest moment definitely has to be when we were featured on Channel 4’s Stephs Packed Lunch. A research journalist had seen my kits on Etsy and contacted me through Facebook to ask if they could share what we do! It was like a dream especially showing Penelope the feature and her being able to share it with her school friends.

 

That really was so exciting and such an achievement. It’s also an example of the power of social media. People can be critical of social media, but how have you found it?

 
So far I‘ve found it great and really supportive but it is an investment of your time. I try and see it as “working” now for the business when I’m on there and limit when I go on. Instagram can be great for small businesses but you do only get out what you put in and the much talked about “algorithm” definitely can punish you if you take some time away. I’m still working on this and hope to one day have a bit more of a strategy behind it all! But it needs some thought and time dedicated to it. Maybe next year!
 

It really does take up so much time. But it will be perfect for sharing your website!! What are you most looking forward to about your website going live?

 
I’m really looking forward to sharing the branding and our story and hopefully the build a box page!
 

Ha ha, Warwick is working on that! There’s always a way, eventually!

 
He’s doing a great job and I’m sure that it will be pretty unique compared to other craft kit websites making it super easy for people to make the perfect gift. 
 

We’re so excited too and can’t wait for people to be able to see it and use it. Finally Laura, what would you say has been the greatest lesson that Crafty Koala has taught you so far? And where do you hope Crafty Koala will go?

 

Strive for progress and not perfection. This has been a big lesson for me and my big ideas so I can balance The Crafty Koala Club with my personal and normal day-to-day working life and still feel proud of what I’m achieving, even if it is slower than I’d like, and that’s ok, it’s all progress. And oh, my ideas are endless! Ha, Paul will tell you that .. they range from after school clubs, having a space at home to host craft classes (this would mean moving house!), worldwide shipping, subscriptions and setting up down under!

 

It all sounds amazing Laura and we know you will get there but you’re so right, it’s so important to be kind to yourself and set realistic targets.

 

Thank you so, so much for your time. We just need you for a few more minutes for our quick-fire round. Are you ready?

 

Yep. Go for it!

 

Ok, here goes!

 
  • Chocolate or crisps? Chocolate every time!
  • Wine or beer? Wine. Australian of course!
  • Walking or cycling? Walking
  • Dogs or cats?  Cats .. we have 2!
  • Tea or Coffee?  Depends on how bad the night shift was!.. But usually tea – only Yorkshire though.
  • Summer or Winter? Winter
  • Red sauce or Brown? Red
  • Emailer or brochure? Email
  • Driving holidays or flying? Flying
  • Active holidays or beach holidays? Beach
  • Cosy nights in or wild nights out? Cosy nights in!
  • City or countryside? City
  • Passenger or Driver? Passenger
  • Soaps or Box sets? Box sets

Fabulous! Thank you so much Laura, we’re very similar!

 

Here’s to the Crafty Koala’s exciting future!

 

If you can’t wait to see Laura’s amazing craft kits you can follow her on Instagram or Facebook or see her products in her Etsy shops. (If you have any little ones to buy for, they are perfect!)

 

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