After having her first son, Natalie Ormond started making changes to the way her family shopped and lived. Finding some great eco-friendly and sustainable products along the way, she was frustrated that they couldn’t buy them all in one place or even close to where she lived. This is what inspired her to launch Smallkind, for likeminded parents who wanted to live more sustainably, while appreciating high-quality, stylish, practical products that could be passed on to other families. Smallkind is a place for families to shop a whole range of ethical products for kids and parents. Here Natalie shares her business journey so far with The Natural Parent Magazine.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
After having children, I became more aware of the environmental impact of an ‘average’ family. As first-time parents we bought all the recommended items but quickly realised that some of the ‘essentials’ are unnecessary and others are just not fit for purpose. Things broke or wore out before they could be passed on, other items were barely used and it felt like such a waste. Then there was all the plastic packaging that baby kit seemed to arrive in!
After we had our first son, we started making changes to the way we shopped and lived. It began with reusable nappies and slowly influenced all of our purchasing decisions.
Along the way I found some fantastic eco-friendly and sustainable products that I fell in love with but I couldn’t find them all in one place and there was nowhere nearby to shop in person. I’d walk into a kids’ shop with my boys and couldn’t find a single thing I wanted to spend my money on.
Eventually, the urge to do something about this overtook the fear of doing it and I started Smallkind for other parents out there, who want to live more sustainably and appreciate design-led, high-quality, practical products that will last and can be passed on to other families.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
We launched online in October 2019. I’d previously owned a teething and nursing jewellery company and I closed this down to start Smallkind. So I had some experience of running a shop online and it felt like the right first step. However, I really wanted a bricks and mortar shop in Leeds aswell. I dreamed of a space where parents could gather for classes and meet ups in a truly family-friendly environment. I’d been inspired by a trip to Germany where we spent a lot of time in Kinder Cafes but due to the pandemic, it wasn’t great timing so it’s something I’ve had to put on hold.
We started with some of our own family’s favourite toys brands as well as eco toiletries, skincare and homeware for parents. Over the past three years, our range has expanded and we now stock organic children’s wear and also offer an eco subscription box ‘Eco Made Easy’ to help busy parents make eco swaps and lifestyle changes.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I think the biggest breakthrough was me just getting out of my own way! I got to a point in 2021 when I was working three days a week as a Social Worker, three to four days a week at Smallkind plus evenings and any spare moment. I realised I couldn’t sustain it. The only thing stopping me from leaving my job was fear of leaving a stable income. So I left Social Work in September 2021 and have loved being able to fully commit to Smallkind and my mission to make ethical and conscious products accessible and affordable for busy parents.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
When I left my ‘day job’, I had visions of taking up a new hobby and having more time for things outside of work but in reality, running a business is all consuming and will take up every moment if you let it. So the work-life balance is still a work in progress. I think initially I went hard on the hours, working late into the evenings every night and now after a year of being full time at Smallkind, I’m learning to find some balance.
I’m very grateful that being self employed gives me the flexibility to take time off when my boys are unwell or only work evenings in the school holidays. The boundaries between work and home are less defined, but at this stage of our life as a family that suits us. Also the business does feel like my third baby!