Lin & Leo – a friends start up
Linda and Leonora have been friends since their school days and have built a business which we juggle together with their young families. They share their start up story.
We are frequently told by friends and people that we randomly meet that we are an inspiration to others, especially as we now juggle our babies with the business. However, we just see our work as hard work fun and enjoy the thrill of seeing something we have built from nothing to what it is now. And it certainly beats getting on the train/tube/bus everyday.
It was back in 2003 that we both decided we needed to make some changes to our lives. At the time we were both 27 years old and had both reached a point in our respective jobs where we felt that we needed/wanted to get more out of our lives and make the system work for us rather than someone else. Linda worked in central London for a global buying/sourcing company, uncovering promising new designers and Leonora worked in the Costume world for TV&Film. Both of our roles/experience seemed to marry together perfectly in order to make our new venture come to live. We saw a niche in the market – concept bags – and decided to jump at the chance to fill it – nothing ventured, nothing gained. We saw that there were no fashionable laptop bags on the market for women, other than those made of woven polyester. The market was crying out for something glamorous and sophisticated that a women could carry on her arm with pride! We therefore decided to combine this requirement with fashion and design a bag that looked like a stunning handbag, but in fact had a function – to carry a laptop – hence the LapBag was born!
We spent the first year working around the clock (evenings and weekends), combining our current jobs with various business and handbag manufacturing courses. This was in order to build our business from a secure starting point and ensure that we were armed with all the right research and information that we needed to get started. We then sourced a great manufacturer and headed out to Delhi to meet them, carrying our samples back in our suitcases, which was when we first spoke to Red Direct and they featured our LapBags in their next catalogue. We also bought beautiful jewellery back form India to sell here in the UKand worked a weekend stall at Portobello Market to help raise funds.
Red Direct was our first big break in the Spring of 2005 and from this date onward we worked hard selling our bags to various boutiques and shops around the country and a number of overseas clients too. We slowly grew, building a strong base of clients as we did – most of which we still work with now. Then in September 2006 we launched our next new concept handbag – the BabyBag – again an area that was crying out for more variety for all those Mums out there – inspired by our own situations, as we became new Mums too! We combined the launch of our new bag with the launch of our own online shop on our website, whilst still continuing to sell our bags wholesale to our established clients. Since this date we have continued to grow and have just launched more bags and styles on our site.
Lin&Leo now growing from strength to strength and we now have stockists and customers worldwide. Our bags have become so desirable that our stock is often sold out before it has even left our factory.
Our families are also growing – Linda has two daughters aged 3 and 6 and Leonora has two boys aged 2 and 4 years old. The joy of Lin&Leo is that it allows us both to work our own hours, enjoy our families and still bring in a salary every month to pay the mortgage – so pretty nearly perfect. We have also had amazingly supportive husbands who have helped/encouraged us at every step of the way and have a fantastic friendship that has only got stronger as the years have passed.
We have had press coverage in many national magazines and papers – to name a few…. Hello, OK, Eve, Cosmopolitan, Red, Look, Instyle, The Mail and most of the Baby magazines, but we have never had an actual feature written about us and therefore would be delighted to tell the world of our success story to date. We also attach some press that might be of interest.