Member stories
 

The baa-rilliant brand flying the flag for British wool

The baa-rilliant brand flying the flag for British wool
Sarah Turner
Sarah Turner
Little Beau Sheep
 

Posted: Wed 16th Dec 2020

The best business ideas are often the simplest and Little Beau Sheep is a perfect example of that.

Sarah Turner came up with the idea for her British made wool laundry balls when she could only find plastic versions that didn't do the job well and weren't environmentally friendly.

She has sold thousands of her products online but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Sarah to look for more avenues to reach customers and she started selling on Amazon's online store.

The Yorkshire-based entrepreneur tells the story behind Little Beau Sheep and how the Amazon Small Business Accelerator has helped.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
 
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

How did you come up with your business?

In a word: motherhood. With perfect timing, I was mum to lovely little girls at the same time as being in the in the midst of a major house renovation.

Long story short, we were living as a family in a compact and bijou flat whilst our house was undergoing major re-structuring. As any mum will tell you, laundry plays a large part in your life when little ones are on the go.

Getting said laundry dry without a garden added to the task and I was forced into using a tumble dryer. In an effort to speed things up, I invested in off-the-shelf plastic dryer balls. Besides being unbearably noisy, they broke and just added to the world's unwanted plastic problem.

As an avid 'felter' I put my skills to work making a softer natural alternative using wool and Little Beau Sheep was born.

What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. To start with, I kept everything pretty lo-fi.

Working from my kitchen table I used the online marketplace Etsy. Social media was also cheap and helped spread the word to the wider world.
This enabled me to generate sufficient sales and profit to reinvest in the business. When I needed a cash-injection to redesign my plastic-free product packaging, I tapped into crowdfunding.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?

The pandemic came about very suddenly and has been nothing like we've ever experienced before. I'd spent the last year building partnerships with independent retailers and attending trade shows which had gone really well but then in March all the shops had to close. I also found myself homeschooling two primary school-aged children so my working day suddenly looked totally different too!

The focus naturally had to turn online and I took the opportunity to redevelop my own website. I was already selling on Etsy so I looked for other alternative routes to market. Amazon Handmade has a very similar feel to it as Etsy and so this seemed to be the natural place for me and my brand to start out.

Little Beau Sheep

What is your strategy for selling on Amazon?

I have started very slowly on Amazon, beginning on Amazon Handmade and building up the brand from there. I have registered Little Beau Sheep as a brand and the next step is to create my store.

I plan to utilise the advertising functions within the platform to maximise brand visibility. I picked up some useful tips from Naomi at Torro on A+ content, especially around the use of images.

My products are very visual and so it is very important to be to be able to show my sheep off in the best possible way to customers. Having access to people through the Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning modules who have been through this before and can direct you to where you can find help saves a lot of time.

What tips have you picked up from the Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme?

I have been working through the modules. I find it really useful that they come in bite-sized chunks as I can dip into them when I get a free moment.
This was particularly important over the summer when I was home schooling two children alongside running a business!

Although I am an experienced online seller, I am still very new to Amazon so the modules on Amazon including how to register and establish your brand, gaining the Prime badge and how to advertise your products on Amazon were all particularly insightful as each platform is slightly different.

What are your plans for the future of your business?

In the long term, I want Little Beau Sheep to be the leading supplier of British made wool laundry balls and the first port of call for anyone seeking laundry advice and expertise.

I'm also looking to extend my network of independent outlets in the UK and build on my existing US customer base by becoming available over the counter in stores that reflect the brand's values.

I intend to continue spreading the Little Beau Sheep gospel about rare breeds by developing my special edition laundry balls in partnership with locally-known farmers and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. On an environmental scale and on the back of my successful plastic-free drive, I want the brand to become synonymous with eco-care and environmental awareness.

Which other entrepreneurs inspire you and why?

I love reading or listening to podcasts about how other entrepreneurs have taken their business from the kitchen table and built them up to be global brands. I find this truly inspirational.

The entrepreneurs that I find the most inspirational are all women, such as Jo Malone, founder of Jo Malone London and Jo Loves, Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, and Mary Portas, 'Queen of Shops' and author of Work Like A Woman.

I love hearing about these entrepreneurs' experiences and applying some of their tips and learnings to my own business.

What are your top tips for business success?

Just do it! If you have an idea for a business, give it a go. Don't wait for perfection, just get the idea out there and test it on a limited budget to see how it works. Then refine it as you go - otherwise you may never do it and you'll never know.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
 
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

 
Sarah Turner
Sarah Turner
Little Beau Sheep
 

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