Colour Celebrations is the only company offering baby milestone cards and luxury gifting for black and mixed raced babies. Empowering parents to celebrate both developmental baby milestones and cultural milestones, the business is rapidly going from strength to strength.
Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking to Deborah Ajaja, Founder of Colour Celebrations, about her inspirational journey and innovative Colourful Motherhood Campaign.
Colour Celebrations began when Deborah noticed a gap in the market. Speaking about her inspiration, Deborah explained: “I became a mum in 2017 and was looking for milestone cards, but recognised that the ones I had didn’t reflect what my son looked like. I was sure there would be something out there that would help me celebrate different milestones, but I couldn’t find anything. A brainwave struck as I thought it was crazy that this hadn’t been done before, so I wanted to do this in a representative and fun way. The idea wasn’t too difficult to come up with as I was creating something that I knew I needed.”
Understanding the market
As with any new product, market research played an essential role in understanding demand. Deborah said: “I had loads of friends who had children or were expecting, so I drew on that pool of resource to test ideas on their babies and see what they thought of the idea. This helped me to understand the demand for products like this.”
Sharing the response that her products have had, Deborah said: “The reception has been incredible. People from all around the world have engaged with the brand, product and message. Everyone is really excited about these products and what’s happened in the last year with Black Lives Matter has really raised the importance of inclusivity and instilling these key messages from early childhood.”
The Colourful Motherhood Campaign
Colour Celebrations launched the ‘Colourful Motherhood Campaign’, which has had an incredible impact. Deborah explained: “I ran the Colourful Motherhood Campaign in October alongside Black History Month in the UK, to put a lovely spotlight on parents raising black or mixed race children. It became apparent to me as a mum raising black children that the messaging around our experience isn’t always positive. By the year 2066, the term ‘other’ will be the most popular in the UK, so why not be prepared and equip ourselves with knowledge and information?
“The campaign was fantastic and I spoke to a number of British mums about their experiences as parents. We created videos and got so many great people involved, from an Olympic athlete, to nurses, stay at home mums and entrepreneurs. We spoke about our hopes, fears and dreams, which is a nice starting point to shed a positive light on different types of motherhood experiences.”
To raise brand awareness of Colour Celebrations, Deborah has used a number of different approaches. Sharing some of the most successful, she said: “A lot of the brand awareness was organic at the beginning because I was new to the game. I was fortunate that the product speaks for itself and word of mouth was the main method of marketing at the start. I’ve been strategic and have worked with brands and partners recently that have similar values to me about wellness and things like this.
“It’s so important to use the tools available and take things offline as well as online with social media. I’ve grown my mailing list and my website presence. I’ve always been a collaborative person, but people are going out of their way to help each other and grow together. It’s part of this wider community that we’re all benefiting from and generations to come will too.”
Overcoming retail challenges
Deborah explained some of the greatest challenges that accompanied creating a product and bringing it to market. She said: “I was a completely bootstrapped business and put all of my money into the business, so it was essential to keep track of what money was coming in and out. I started with a spreadsheet here and a bit of paper there, then I realised the process needed to be managed more efficiently and I found Starling Bank. The ease of setting up my account with them made it so easy to manage everything, especially when so many things were going in and out at the same time. It was game changing as it allowed me to track finances and inventory, categorise spend and save time. It’s just so simple and even little things make a big difference, like when somebody asks for my bank details, there’s a button I can press to send them directly on WhatsApp.”
Speaking about the difficulties that COVID-19 presented, Deborah explained how she has turned these into positives: “Navigating the pandemic was a challenge as I had a toddler and newborn. I really do think the pandemic was a huge influence on where things have gone, as well as my approach to social media and the way I have networked. It’s shone a light on a lot of small businesses and pushed people to go digital. We’ve had to accelerate plans that we were thinking about developing years down the line.”
Selling new products
Colour Celebrations has recently launched a brilliant new product. Deborah added: “Product diversification was another challenge as it was born out of my personal needs, but I wanted it to be seen as a one stop gift shop that adds value for my customers. We’re building such a great customer base and I want my products to speak to these people. This week I launched a height chart that celebrates children’s growth, as the next stage after the milestone cards that go up to the age of one. It’s gone so well that I sold out of stock quickly.”
Tips for ecommerce
Deborah offered her advice to any aspiring retailers looking to sell online. Here’s what she had to say:
- Get started
“I would encourage getting started as soon as you can, especially as it means you don’t have to rely on the Government’s roadmap to make sales. People are enjoying the fact that they don’t have to go out, due to the rise of online companies.”
- Start small
“Begin by focusing on the simple things. There are plenty of fantastic websites that can help you set up something that does everything you need. I used Squarespace as it’s so intuitive and easy to use.”
- Know your finances
“If you’re wanting to start a business where you’re taking payments, make sure it’s all set up on the back end and make sure payments go straight into your account. This makes it clear and simple when you’re bookkeeping as you know outgoings and revenue coming in.”
Deborah explained her in-house approach to fulfilment, as well as some of the tools that have simplified this process: “I fulfil all orders myself because of the volume. Before the pandemic, I’d send items as orders came in. Since the pandemic, because the products will be used next to babies, it’s important for me to be as efficient and safe as possible, so I’ve limited the number of postal runs. Communication of the reasons and benefits has been essential and customers have been understanding of delays, as I’ve shared this messaging clearly and they are appreciative of the couriers. I’ve offered local pickups too.
“There are so many great tools I’ve found. Royal Mail does click and drop, so you can prepare everything at home. If you’ve got a big enough shipment, they can even pick it up from you, so there are plenty of options.”
The future of Colour Celebrations
Looking to the future, Deborah is excited to continue networking in person and growing the Colour Celebrations brand. She added: “Pop ups will be something I’m looking to do when it’s possible again. I live and thrive off meeting parents to be and loved ones as these are such a great way to share the message in person and tell my personal story.”