In our ‘Inspiring small businesses’ series we share and celebrate great stories from fellow small business owners who took their idea to the next level and built their own business. Starting your own business is a huge step, no matter how small your business is, so by bringing you closer to the great minds behind these inspiring businesses, we hope that you will find motivation and survival tips for building yours.
Our next inspiring story is the one behind Little Clogs Holidays, a niche online holiday company offering baby and toddler friendly holidays in Holland and Belgium run by Laura and Jane, two mums of young children with passion for travel.
What’s the story behind your business?
Jane lives in Holland and has three half Dutch children. Laura lives in Altrincham, Cheshire and has two half Belgian children. We have both been on holiday to these very child friendly countries many times. It dawned on us that most people tend to regard these countries as city break destinations and it’s not a very known fact that they offer perfect holidays for families with young children. They have some of the cleanest and safest sandy beaches in Europe, stunning woodland scenery, tons of fun family days out and an abundance of high quality holiday parks and other self catering holidays.
The European holiday park concept is not that well known in the UK, but holiday parks have amazing children’s facilities: pools, play areas and often little farms. Accommodation is in comfortable bungalows, villas or lodges. You have the benefit of being outdoors, in beautiful surroundings, whilst having fantastic facilities and being close to plenty of places to visit. It’s even possible to go on safari in Holland and stay in luxury safari lodges watching the giraffes while you have breakfast!
They are also easily accessible countries from the UK with a nice summer climate that doesn’t get unmanageably hot with little ones in tow. So, with our vast knowledge and experience of these destinations we decided to set up Little Clogs. Our business model is affiliate marketing, so essentially we are marketing agents for the holiday places we feature and receive a commission when people book through our links. We offer bespoke advice and recommendations and love the contact we have with families interested in what we offer.
What inspired you to start your own business?
We have been best friends for 20 years and always dreamed of the idea of running a business together. Laura has a background in travel and a long standing relationship with some key suppliers. Jane has vast experience in primary education and knows the importance of giving children the right stimulation and learning environments. The catalyst for setting up Little Clogs probably came when Laura’s youngest child started nursery and round about the same time they went on a family holiday to the Belgian Coast. The more Laura spoke to other mums about her holiday the more she realised there was a bit of a gap in the market for these destinations and set about doing something about it!
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own business?
We are in different countries and Jane also works part time as a teacher so finding the time to discuss our business plans in such a way that doesn’t overspill too much into family life is sometimes a challenge. Families often contact us for information and recommendations in the evening and as we’re so passionate about what we do we want to reply straight away! As a small business you also have to do everything yourself, much of it learning from scratch. There are just the two of us to do all of our marketing, content generation, website admin, PR, accounts, supplier relationship management etc.
What is the best thing about running your own business?
We love that we’ve created our own brand and that the word is spreading fast. We’re only a year old but we still get a buzz when we meet people who have heard about us and want to know more. It’s exciting telling people about destinations they might not otherwise have thought of and even more exciting when they book and then leave positive reviews!