I’ve been conducting a next day pharmacy little survey – probably to ease my conscience. I wondered how many of my friends actually sew a woven label into each small item of clothing before the school year kicks off. And how many, like me, use stickers, permanent laundry markers and those iron-ons in every effort to avoid the needle and thread?
I grew up with beautifully embroidered Emma Yablon woven name tags in my school uniform, all sewn in by Lady Y. So why is it now UNTHINKABLE for me to sit and sew in the evenings? Are we the first generation to refuse to cross stitch for the sake of lost uniform?
I have also noticed that despite the Smalls’ schools specifying: all school uniform must be labeled; it is evident that many parents just don’t bother naming at all. Perhaps these anti-labellers are fed up of the iron-on peel-off labels and have a similar amount of interest in sewing as me? Or perhaps they simply help themselves to a similar item from Lost Property when theirs is lost?
Either way, it’s labeling back-to-school season and while I was researching the numerous label printing companies, I came across Ann-Maree Morrison, founder and managing director of Labels4Kids and her labeling story. Accountant and management consultant by profession, Ann-Maree was quite literally hit by a truck before taking some time out and setting up her label business:
How old are your children now? 16, 14 and 11
Why did you feel that there was a name label gap in the market? I could not get any name labels for my kids lunch boxes, water bottles, shoes – so decided to fill the gap. There are others copying us now but not as good in my view! We offer only high quality and a wide choice.
What makes Labels4kids different from its competitors? Service, personal attention, high quality and we care. We do 100% money back guarantee, free delivery, and a new easy to use website (after we fix the bugs) as well as fundraising that also helps the parent not just the school.
On average, how many different types of labels do your customers buy? Usually a 3 or 4.
What is the most unusual item you have ever labelled in your household? In my house? Got to be the computer mice, colour coded to match the machines!
Who or what inspires you in your business? Learning and competition. I am also inspired by ASOS and their performance staying ahead of the ecommerce game. As far as people go Karren Brady and Richard Branson are my favourite business people.
If not labels, then what? Anything I could find with a gap in the market. Just happened to be my first inspiration, probably not the last!
Do you have any new products/labels in the pipeline? Yes we are always introducing new ideas but they go through a long period of testing before I let them loose on customers. I only want quality. Sometimes customers come up with ideas for us too. Some are really good and others just not viable for the market as a whole.
On average, how much do your customers spend on labels each school year? £30
What would you change about your life? Work less and have more time. This means growing our team, which of course has budget constraints.
How do you de-stress after work? Tennis or a drink with friends. I love Holby City too…
Where would we find you taking some time-out? On the tennis court, in La Manga (Spain) or reading business books by a pool somewhere in the shade.
Best book you’ve ever read? Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people”. It’s common sense but so overlooked by so many people. Common courtesy goes a long way. My business follows the same philosophy “treat people as you wish to be treated” and if we have abusive customers we listen and then see what we can do to help them.
Do we still live in a world where parents sew on name tapes? Sadly we do but then it is dictated by the schools. There are so many other options but some schools are stuck in a time warp and think nothing else will stay on.
How many of your customers sew-on? Not as high as 50% any more. Probably a third.
COMPETITION: Labels4kids has kindly given me £25 vouchers for labels for 4 of my readers. All you have to do to enter this competition is sign up to my blog (top right of homepage), follow me on Twitter and the winners will be chosen on Monday 9th September 2013.