30 November 2017

Hot Gossip Feature - Honey Rocks

Sarah Gilbert, who runs Box of Smiles - a gift boxing business, is passionate about supporting other creative small businesses. 

Read about her latest find, the stylish online store  Honey Rocks, and how the two founders, Hannah and India, got their colourful brand off the ground. 

We've been chatting with the two creative sisters behind Honey Rocks ~ the stylish online store which features vibrant and bold children's furniture and accessories. Find out how Hannah and India got their colourful brand off the ground and why their charity partnership is so close to their hearts. 

What was the driver that got you to bite the bullet and start up your business? As sisters we had always talked about working together but the moment had never been quite right. We'd both been busy forging our own careers in retail in London; Hannah heading up Corporate PR at Harrods and India in buying at major retailers including Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser. But after having her two children, Honey and Rocco, India had spotted a gap in the market for an eclectic homewares brand that featured bright, bold children's furniture and accessories that would appeal to both adults and children alike. Utilising her buying experience and contacts India started creating a unique product range and a year on Hannah, having just had her second daughter, came on board to help launch the brand with her PR and marketing skills. The fit between our skills just worked and it felt like the right time for our families too. We knew we wanted to build the brand together - so Honey Rocks was born!

What has been the biggest risk you've taken with starting and running your business?Where to start there seem to be so many risks when starting a small business! Investing our own money was nerve wracking and every penny we spent had to work very hard for us. Our biggest initial risk was investing in a photoshoot to help launch the brand online and in the press. We were fortunate to use an amazing neon pink space at Franks bar in Peckham and to have support from some brilliantly talented Mamas including cinderfashionrella and LouiseBoyce Photography. 

But even the small costs associated with the shoot made us feel very nervous and we wondered at the time whether we were right to spend any money at all. However the resulting pictures were fantastic and have become our signature. They made our website eye catching and unique, and they've appeared across social media and in the press including in Metro and the Evening Standard.

And your biggest achievement?Forging a partnership with FARA Charity shops to launch our ROCK Ts. We always knew we wanted our business to give something back and we created our range of neon embroidered slogan Ts for children and parents to do just that. We approached FARA as we were already regular shoppers at their brilliant stores in Northcote Road and Balham - they are fantastic for designer finds and children's toys and books. Once we learnt more about the charity and its work with poor and vulnerable children in the poorest parts of northern Romania we knew that we wanted to do something to help. Our campaign means that for every T we sell we donate a backpack of school supplies or a week's worth of hot meals to a school aged child that may not attend school otherwise. We've just made our first donation and couldnt be prouder to be doing something tangible to help.

Can we add another?! We were also overwhelmed to be shortlisted for a Design Award for our homewares by the brilliant children's magazine Smallish last month. Especially in our very first season this felt very special indeed!

Does it work around your families' life?Just about! We wish we could say that it fitted perfectly but as any parent will know things are not that simple once you have children! We certainly feel very lucky to be able to be at the school and nursery pick ups and to spend quality time with our little ones during the week. But when Honey Rocks gets very busy and work time merges with the children's time we feel guilty for not being fully present. There is no easy answer for working parents but we are trying our best! We've tried to explain as much as we can to the children about what we are doing and our ambitions for our little business, and they all talk about Honey Rocks now and play shops with their own furniture so hopefully we are having the right impact!

What would you tell yourself if you were starting again now?Don't be so afraid! We have a lot of experience in big brands but this felt different partly as there isn't the same infrastructure. But we needn't have worried so much and should have trusted in our experience and our instincts. Sometimes you just have to go for it!

Any tips you can share for starting up a small business? Network as much as you can. Instagram has been a brilliant way for us to meet lots of fantastic contacts many of whom are now good friends. Bloggers, brands, small businesses and just loads of friendly, talented people are out there and we have found so many who have been incredibly supportive. So even if you can't get out there to events in person you can still meet people via insta. Also don't be afraid to directly approach people you want to work with - we've found people are incredibly receptive and really the worse that can happen is someone saying no.

Thanks for speaking with us ladies. We look forward to seeing lots more gorgeous and colourful products from you both. 

To visit the Honey Rocks website click here

To visit Box of Smiles website click here


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