Retro Kids is your one-stop shop for all things kitsch and kawaii, specialising in fun retro goodies for both little kids and big kids.
Founded in 2014 by mum-of-two Joanne, all the products are created by talented artists, established brands and small brands who are growing through the support of retailers like Retro Kids. Joanne hand-picks all the products herself, and says she would only stock items she would be happy for her own kids to have, so you can be sure the quality will always be the best. It's easy to see why the concept store is so popular - the bright colours and the huge range of unique, fun products create a really nostalgic feel we can't get enough of.
Helen has been a fan of Retro Kids for ages, so we were chuffed when we got the chance to chat with founder Joanne.
Tell us a little bit about Retro Kids - how did you start up?
I launched the business in April 2014, after taking voluntary redundancy from working a decade as a prison officer. I purchased the domain name late 2013 and set about researching the brands that I felt would be perfect for my vision. I left work entirely in the February, literally running out of the prison - my Line Manager running after me with my leaving card as I was so keen to 'escape'!
I can honestly say it took blood (dodgy tape dispenser and paper cuts), sweat (packing orders - it's surprisingly hard work) and lots of tears to get established. I had a lot of initial website issues and I came very close to throwing the towel in...there very nearly wasn't a Retro Kids (my first blog explains in more detail for those curious). I strangely found most of my support from strangers on Instagram, and it's now my favourite social media and such a lovely community.
In the first quarter of our second year of trading, my relationship ended with my long-term partner and a house move with my two little girls added to the stress; but I had so much determination to make the business work for my girls. I am tenacious by nature. I think I worked approximately 90 hours a week during that first year - I have a poster in my office that reads 'Work, Rest & Play', and I would often joke that I was always stuck on 'work'. It wasn't until summer last year that I was able to get the work-life balance I desired, and it's still a balancing act; yet I no longer feel I should be in a circus!
Do you have kids? How do you fit your work around them?
I have two girls aged 4 and 6, and I balance everything around them. My working day is therefore staggered with early starts around school hours, and then on into the evening. During busy times and school holidays I have hired help. The girls have my undivided attention when I have them as my time with them is priority. I somehow manage to juggle everyone and not let me children or customers down!
What was your favourite toy as a child?
I loved my Fisher Price teaching clock and my roller blades.
Any independent brands you'd like to spread the word about?
I love all the independent brands I follow on Instagram - there are too many to list!
Do you have a favourite product from the Retro Kids range?
I couldn't possibly pick just one! I honestly love everything we stock, although I literally squealed at the latest RICE products when they arrived!
What sort of music do you listen to?
I adore Stevie Wonder, he lifts the dullest of my moods instantly. I'm listening to James Arthur at the moment; my music taste covers all genres but I have a soft spot from R&B and Jazz.
Party out or party at home - Discuss!
It's nice to get dressed up once in a while but I prefere to cook and be comfy at home with good food, wine and company.
Any tips on staying sane while running a business?
Just ride the storm. Have confidence in yourself and your vision. He who dares, wins.
And finally...any famous last words?
I love the quote by Anthony Burril; "Work hard and be nice to people." I like to think I live by this.
We're sure you'll love Retro Kids as much as we do. They've had lots of new goodies in recently too, some of which pictured below, so it's the perfect time to go and have a look!