We talk to three women about what inspired them to start their companies and the highlights and challenges along the way. In part 1 we talk to Elaine Ellis of Hannah & Henry.
For many people that start a new business it’s about finding that gap in the market, and for Elaine Ellis it was no different. Ellis and her husband were already running a gift and homewares store in Perth but wanted more freedom to travel and see their family in Ireland.
“So I thought about selling our current business and setting up an ecommerce business that could be run from anywhere,” she says.
“It just so happens that I was pregnant with my second child and couldn’t find a stylish nappy bag and I had a lightbulb moment: what if I made my own? After some research I thought I might be on to something and I just started to source product and build a website and that’s how Hannah & Henry started.”
Entrepreneurship seems to be in Ellis’ blood and she finds it hard to switch off. “I eat, sleep and dream about the business,” she laughs.
“I’m always dreaming up new design ideas or trying to redesign a current bag. I take so much inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram and the fashion world and then try and put my own unique spin on things. Black is the most popular colour thus far but I’m a colour kinda gal and can’t wait to introduce some additional colours to our range of bags.
“I love creating something that our customers will use every day, it’s awesome when they share feedback on our product, it makes my day,” she enthuses.
“Our brand focuses on mum and dad instead of just the newborn baby. As a parent myself I found it a hard transitioning to motherhood and the loss of identify, and so I’ve tried to create a lifestyle brand for parents so they can still feel like their ‘pre-baby’ self.”
The brand’s nappy bags are made from vegan leather which is not only 100 per cent cruelty free, it’s also durable, practical and has endless possibilities and colours. It looks stylish without the environmental impact of real leather.
Ellis believes late 2021 and early 2022 will be big years for travel, both domestically and internationally. Hannah & Henry’s upcoming spring/summer collection will therefore have a strong focus on family in the sun with green, blue and whites all making an appearance in its beach and picnic collections and also possible luggage.
The brand is also launching a ‘dad collection’. “In conjunction with the early stages of motherhood we are just about to launch bags for dads such as laptop backpacks, duffle bags and weekender bags. We are also developing a whole range of matching ‘everyday’ bags, totes and backpacks for the whole family.
“My vision is to have Hannah & Henry as the one stop shop for style conscious parents worldwide. We have a huge range of new products in the pipeline and are planning to launch our website to the US market this year as well.”