We have been working with Julia and Matty, the pair behind pregnancy wellbeing brand Myrtle & Maude for over two and a half years. We love their commitment to natural ingredients and their range of pregnancy teas & bon-bons are some of our most popular products in our mum-to-be gift boxes. As part of our Behind The Brand series, Julia shares their story and gives advice for starting up and running a business.
How did Myrtle & Maude get started?
We both worked on luxury yachts in the South of France - I (Julia) was a senior stewardess and Matty was a deckhand. After seeing guests suffer with motion/travel sickness, I created some acupressure wristbands (which help alleviate symptoms), started selling online and they sold really well.
I received a lot of emails from customers asking if they would help with their morning sickness - which of course they would as they help the body in the same way for travel sickness. Plus, they are natural which is always great for the pregnancy market.
We started looking for alternative products on the market and found very little to help mums-to-be. This is when Matty came on board and Myrtle & Maude was born.
We now have natural pregnancy products for the entire pregnancy journey.
What is behind the business name and how did you come up with it?
Myrtle & Maude is the name of our grandmothers. The brand is in their honour as they were true advocates for natural living. Our grandmothers passed down recipes which we use today.
Myrtle & Maude's aim is to be as natural as possible using the best quality ingredients, helping us to build the highest level of trust with our customers.
What is important to you as a brand?
We are an ethical brand. We are certified organic, vegan and cruelty free. Most of our packaging is recyclable or reusable. This is important for us. Our aim is to be the most natural brand on the market, which is extremely important for our target market - pregnant women are more likely to check ingredients/preservative etc. than any other consumer.
We are upfront, honest and transparent with our customers, unlike some brands that look natural but actually, after a little research, probably aren't.
What is the best thing about running your own business?
The fact that we are creating products that are help our customers is great - we get great feedback! From a business perspective, I suppose it’s being your own boss. However, that's not always a positive.
Running your own business sounds great on paper but the reality is long hours, sacrificing personal finances, quality time with friends and family and taking lot of risk with no guarantees it will pay off. Running a small, growing business that has a lot of ambition is stressful. However, stress is just a part of life that everyone has – it’s about figuring out how to cope with it best.
I can imagine it being a lot easier when your business is well established, and that's the aim here at Myrtle & Maude - we aim to be a big player in the pregnancy well-being market.
What do you find the hardest thing about running your own business?
Cash flow is always an issue for any small business. Low staff resources can also be difficult - there are just two of us doing everything here.
Working for yourself can be challenging, particularly at the moment, what do you guys prioritize to try and keep a work/life balance?
Getting the right work-life balance is something we have always struggled to achieve and we probably always will. We are very ambitious and want Myrtle & Maude to achieve its full potential, so much so we sometimes forget we need a life too.
We usually become conscious of our poor work life balance after a couple of hard months’ work when we are feeling run down. We will then have a good week of finishing early, but we fall back into the usual trap of staying in the office late and working all hours.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business?
This is a tough one, it depends on the individual and the business.
It’s a very subjective topic. It would be very easy for me to say "Sure Go For It", however, that would be reckless of me knowing first-hand how tough it actually is.
Starting a new business is very exciting at the start but can quickly turn into constant pressure and sometimes an expensive burden.
My advice would be:
- Always be realistic
- Ask yourself if you're willing to sacrifice and take risks
- You can only rely on yourself (Sad to say, but it's true)
- Learn from your mistakes (Try not make expensive ones)
- Don't take constructive criticism personally, it can sometime be an opportunity
- The business doesn't have to be perfect to start with, just get it going and refine over time
- Always remember you never stop learning (Don't become too arrogant to think you’re different). However when it comes to 'your' business don't listen to everyone's advice, some of it can be detrimental and set you back. You have to be selective - maybe find someone who has been there and done it before you as they will be able to tell you the do's and don'ts - they make for good sound boards.
Gosh I could go on haha! Having said all that, for us, running our own business is all we ever wanted to do. We are both risk takers, willing to play the longer, harder game for success. You can achieve things running your own business that you would never achieve working for someone else.
What is next for Myrtle & Maude?
Our aim will always ring true - we want to be the most natural brand on the market, and become a big player within the pregnancy well-being market - which currently is booming.
We would like to become more accessible to our consumers and gain stockists on the high street like John Lewis. We have more products in development that will be ready for market soon. We are currently seeking investment via venture capitalists - this would progress the brand a lot quicker.
We also have a longer term plan for Myrtle & Maude but that's a secret! Haha! You'll have to follow our journey to find out.