Hi Rachel and Merry! You've both created something so special, tell me a bit about yourselves and what inspired Love Keep Create?
We met and became really good friends during Army office training at Sandhurst in 2003. After our time in the army and second careers we were both married to army men and starting families at the same time in 2010. When Rachel’s husband deployed to Afghanistan she made him a little blanket using her son’s first clothes, which he could take away with him.
She put a photo on Facebook and following a surge of interest started making them for other people. Demand was fantastic but she was soon overwhelmed and at the start of 2013 Rachel and Merry were enjoying a glass of wine and coming up with ideas for a way to get this wonderful concept into the mainstream. Merry came in to the business as a partner and LoveKeepCreate was born.
You both had three Dragons ready to invest, which is impressive, what was that moment like for you?
It was incredible and a bit overwhelming. We had felt nervously excited going in to the Den but I you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel a some element of fear about being rejected. To get not one, but three, offers was a wonderful validation of all the hard work we’ve put in and the success we’ve had to date.
Are you excited to get to work with Deborah Meaden?
We’re really excited to be working with her. She’s a very talented businesswoman. Up until now we have learnt everything the hard way – through mistakes, experience and a lot of Googling! It’s really nice to have a fully involved mentor who is as passionate as us about growing our business.
When Love Keep Create first launched on to the market, how did your target audience respond?
Initially the concept of clothing keepsakes was not widely known about. Our audience was generally extremely excited to have found such a great solution for the clothes they loved but had stuck in boxes. We’ve been overwhelmed by how positive and excited people are about us.
How did you fund the business in the early stages?
I think any small business owner would say it has its ups and downs. Being part of a fantastic partnership has been a big element of our success and how we’ve managed it. We were both working mothers, moving frequently with our military families and it was really challenging. Each time one of us has had a bad day (or month!) the other one has been there to pick us up and keep us motivated.
What made you both decide that Dragons Den was the best move to make for your business?
People had always urged us to go on the show and we’ve both been avid watchers and fans of the show for years. We always wanted to do it but it wasn’t until we both moved to Devon long term and set up our workshop that we felt we had the capacity to take the Den on!
Talk me through how Love Keep Create actually works.
People go on to our website and choose whatever keepsake design they like, along with the many options we have for personalizing them. Once they’ve checked out they receive a confirmation email with postage instructions for the clothes. We receive the items, produce the embroidery, get the patterns cut, stitched, stuffed and finished and then dispatch the final keepsake.
We’ve put a great deal of time and effort in to developing our processes and we’re always seeking to fine tune and improve them. We want our customers to have the best possible customer journey and good service is a huge part of what we pride ourselves on.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs, getting ready to launch a people focused business?
Know WHY you’re doing it, what is your motivation? It’s so important to put customers at the centre of what you do and keep them there. Being genuine is a bit part of it.
Social media and engagement is all the buzz at the moment. Have you found social media beneficial so far?
Absolutely. Our business relies hugely on Facebook currently – we have an amazing active community of over 120,000 followers.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first launched?
Absolutely everything is harder and more time consuming than you will estimate (or could believe!).
Love Keep Create is dependent on the support of the people, as Deborah Meaden said, she invested because of the “people and the business”. What do you think you do differently to the other businesses in the keepsake space?
Rachel and I have a fantastic partnership balancing creativity and business acumen, as well as a strong shared ambition about where we want the company to go. We approach everything we do with absolute professionalism.
I am very excited for what you'll achieve in the coming months, do you have any awesome plans up your sleeve?
We are looking at developing some exciting new lines but you’ll have to watch this space!
Click here to head over to LoveKeepCreate and get social on Twitter and Instragam.