For those of you who don’t know who Kids Emporium is, it is a high-end baby and children’s boutique that sells the very best of everything parents might need when starting and raising their young families. While we love this idea and the stores themselves, we are loving them today because the creator and owner of Kids Emporium is an inspiring mompreneur who supports other moms wherever she can.
We at Tums 2 Tots LOVE mom-owned businesses. And I think sometimes when we are faced with big brands that have multiple franchises, we forget that there are actual people who dreamed up those brands. And in the case of Kids Emporium, the mom who dreamed it up 13 years ago, was a 22 year old soon-to be mom named Lauren de Swardt.
Lauren had a very clear idea of the kind of business she wanted Kids Emporium to be. She wanted it to be a beautiful space that would provide only the very best products and personal, one-on-one service to expecting moms and parents of young children (see the synergy?).
With no financial backing, at just 22 years old, she walked into a room of 25 top-end suppliers of all things baby and children and walked out with 23 of them on board to launch her business. Today, Kids Emporium has 27 franchises across South Africa and they are launching their first international store in the UK in July – taking the same South African ethos of hard work, high qaulity and personal service with them.
This might give you an idea of the kind of woman you picture Lauren to be today. The picture would in all likelihood be wrong. Lauren is warm and sincere, very hands on with all aspects of the brand and the franchisee’s stores, and the Kids Emporium world headquarters are in a loft in her home. Why? Because she wants to be home when her children, aged 13 and 8, get back from school every day. (Her partner also has 2 children that she adores). We LOVE that she puts family first and sets aside uninterrupted time to be with hers.
Lauren is constantly on the lookout for beautiful and quality products to add to the Kids Emporium ranges, and is particularly passionate about helping other mompreneurs. Very often, she meets personally with those who want to have their products join the Kids Emporium brand and she takes the time to really listen to their business ideas and offers all the guidance and advice she can to them.
Another reason we are loving Lauren is because she has chosen each franchise owner very carefully, she isn’t prepared to risk the hard-won reputation and respect of the brand for money.
From the first store she opened in 2003, she realised that the greatest part of her offering was that she herself was in the store to talk to the shoppers and help them make the decisions that were right for them. Her passion and understanding of each product she had chosen, allowed her to guide her customers with absolute confidence that they would be getting the perfect items for them. And she loved learning from her customers as well, carefully listening to them and taking any thoughts and feedback to heart to continuously deliver exactly what they wanted and needed.
So today, when she is meeting with a prospective buyer, she looks for that same knowledge and understanding and passion. She wants to know that whichever Kids Emporium store you walk into anywhere in the world, you will be met with that heart and the custom designer experience that she intended. And you know what? She has got it right every time so far.