Lucy and Belle
15th July 2016
Founder: Clara Bentata
Clara Bentata, founder of online retailer Lucy and Belle, set up her business to fit in with her lifestyle as a mother.
Clara Bentata started the online baby-clothing retailer Lucy and Belle after becoming a mother to twin daughters, the business’ namesakes.
With a background in law and marketing, Clara wanted a job that would allow her to continue to grow but also allow her to spend more time with her children. Her solution, Lucy and Belle, now has 18 product ranges – with plans to expand – and a burgeoning speciality in the provision of hard to source products.
“It all started with me trying to find brands for my children that weren’t widely available in the UK”
“It all started with me trying to find brands for my children that weren’t widely available in the UK”, says Clara, “I started discovering all these great products from around the world that I knew the UK market would love. So, I decided to stock the brands myself – that’s how it all began.”
Clara’s daughters not only inspired the birth of the home business but also the style of the clothing. “We are going against the grain and trying to keep the traditional baby looks alive.” One famous fan of the traditional style is the Princess of Cambridge, who boosted traffic to the site when she was spotted using a car seat cover sold exclusively in the UK by Lucy and Belle.
Beginning with just two brands and personalised towels, Lucy and Belle is now an online store that takes orders from across the world. None of this was planned, says Clara: “The business’s growth has not happened in a straightforward manner – I suppose that’s a reflection of life in general.”
She runs the business alone, praising the independence it grants: “I like it this way, I only have to deal with my own pressure.” She is well versed in pressured situations, having worked as a solicitor during the major throes of the recession and later as a marketer in the cosmetics industry. “I always thought about starting a business and I look back now at my professional experiences and appreciate how important they were for my current work. That insight into research, PR, marketing and product development – there’s no way I could be doing what I am now without it.”
She operates out of her London home and speaks highly of the flexibility, but notes that “you can start to miss the social interactions that more traditional offices offer.” However, it’s a price she’s happy to pay to be a full time mum who works from home.
Everyone’s circumstances are different but nothing in life is easy. So, stick at it.
For Clara, the key to building a successful business is optimism: “If I were to think about all of the challenges that I was going to have to encounter and the reasons why I shouldn’t set up a business, I don’t think I would have done it.” Her piece of advice? “There’s something to be said about sticking at it. Everyone’s circumstances are different but nothing in life is easy. So, stick at it.”
That perseverance is delivering dividends for Clara and her business. “I’m very proud of where we’re at and I’m looking forward to learning more, diversifying into the world of social media and blogging. Ultimately, I want the business to achieve its true potential.”
She adds, “Lucy and Belle lets me constantly grow and evolve and pushes me to keep up with trends. That’s why I love it; it puts me in charge of my destiny. It definitely works for me and there’s a good chance it could work for you.”