We talk to Jane Stewart, founder and creator of LULLY (an innovative sleep and relaxation aid) about the inspiration behind her company, her experience being her own boss and where she looks for support.
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
LULLY is an innovative new sleep and relaxation aid which I created drawing on my experience as a musician and a mother. Designed and developed in the UK, LULLY is a soft, premium-quality teddy bear that draws on 4000 years of parenting wisdom and recognises the transformative role of the human voice and calming song to soothe babies and children. LULLY is the only teddy bear to sing 23 live-recorded lullabies, providing an uninterrupted hour of calming music for quiet time, bedtime and relaxation.
What did you do before you started this business?
After 25yrs experience as a stage and screen performer, I signed a contract with Universal Music and Marks and Spencer to create a lullaby CD - one that would relax children without driving their parents crazy; one that could be appreciated by all generations from toddlers to their grandparents, whether in the car or in the cot. The CD was entitled ‘I Watch You Sleeping’ and became one of the top selling CD’s in Marks and Spencer, even outselling Frank Sinatra!
Fast forward to 2019, and I am Managing Director of a hospitality company that specialises in the arts, drawing on my show business background to offer experiences in music, theatre and film. In tandem, I have evolved my lullaby CD concept into LULLY bear.
What inspired you to start up?
The inspiration for LULLY was born via my own experiences as a mum and the challenges of soothing my children at bedtime and quiet time. Like all children, they loved it when I sang lullabies, but the ‘soothing spell’ was broken the moment I stopped. My background as a performer and musician provided the building blocks to help develop a solution. First, I created a best-selling CD of lullabies for Marks & Spencer, and now after many years work, I have created LULLY bear – a beautiful soft teddy-bear that harness all the therapeutic benefits of music to promote relaxation and restful sleep, nurturing your child’s wellbeing as they grow.”
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
I would say I have created a product to calm, babies and children, for bedtime and quiet time with many beautiful songs that you used to sing when you were young. There are no pauses between the tracks so there is an hour of uninterrupted music. This will create a strong bedtime routine for babies and children, building great habits for the future. In a world full of computers and social media, music and calm is hugely important to relaxation. Grandmas and Grandpa’s would enjoy this too!
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I listen to numerous podcasts on business, some from founders that have just started and others who have established businesses. The ones I would recommend are Guy Raz, How I Built This and Holly & Co, Conversations of Inspiration. I read books and talk to as many people as possible about business.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I am very lucky that I also run a hospitality/events company, so I have been able to self-fund the new company to date.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement has been working with the music industry to bring the music within Lully bear to fruition. Putting 23 songs into a soft toy, from my research, has never been done before. Having finally achieved my goal after many years of hard work, I now know why!!
How do you differentiate your business from others?
My product is about music and the human voice and not white noise. All other sleep aids on the market include white noise. My product can take a child from the cradle to starting school and beyond. Having experienced the complexities of music within a product, I now understand why everyone has taken the white noise route!
What’s it like to be your own boss?
I love it! You have to be disciplined and adopt a positive mental attitude. I will always turn a negative thought into a positive one. You have to push yourself, as nobody else is going to do it. On the plus side if you feel like taking a couple of hours off to find some inspiration, then you can, so it works all ways! I love that you can create a brand and do it your own way.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
I would like to have created a full ‘Lully’ brand, encompassing many areas, I have lots of ideas!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you have a good idea, for a product or business then, make it happen! Many people have ideas but they don’t do anything about them.
My late and adored father, His Honour Gerald Butler QC, always told me that in your work life ‘tenacity’ is the most important word.
You have to see starting a business as a long distance runner starting a race. You will train and train and work really hard. When you finally get to the race everyone will get tired around the same point, but it is the ones that keep pushing through that will ultimately win!
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