We sat down at had a chat to the stationery QUEEN herself, Martha Brook on all things running a small business, how to unwind and of course baked goods! Because it just wouldn't be a Baked by Steph interview without talking about delicious treats now would it!?
AND we've teamed up with Martha Brook on an amazing social media competition, so make sure to enter HERE
while you can for a chance to win the ultimate stationary and cookie bundle.
Tell us a bit about how Martha Brook began?
I have always been a stationery addict! I was that person who enjoyed going back to school, purely for the annual stationery haul. After university I went to work for a large healthcare company eventually becoming a business director, but that love of paper goods never left me. Hitting 30 I had a bit of a ‘what am I doing with my life’ crisis and took a week off work to write a business plan arriving the following Monday with a resignation letter in my hand. My Mum said at the time horrified ‘you’ll never make a living selling cards!”, but nine years later, here we are!
What is the most exciting part about having your own business?
Being your own boss! Having you own business is not easy, it’s much harder than I think it might look sometimes from the outside, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love having a vision for where I want to take the brand and working with such an amazing group of people to make it happen.
Tell us your best bit of advice for your younger self
To stop worrying about what other people think of you and what you ‘should’ be doing in life. Pretty much no one cares as they are too busy worrying about themselves! Life is short. Do what sets your soul alight, have as many experiences as you can, say yes to as much as possible, as you never know what’s around the corner.
What’s been the biggest learning curve as a business owner?
I thought I knew a lot about business before I started Martha Brook, but I really didn’t! The reality is that nothing can prepare you for starting and growing a company from scratch when you have to do literally everything yourself. Juggling every single aspect of a start-up and learning along the way has been a lot! I have learnt so much that I have recently started advising and mentoring other entrepreneurs to help those who are where I was five years ago.
What do you love most about what you do?
Without a doubt our incredible community. There is nothing better than the amazing feedback we get from our customers and the joy we bring people. Whenever we get a message or a review saying how our stationery has changed someone’s life or made someone cry (in a good way), it reminds me why I set out to do this.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are the same. Sometimes I’m in our London studios, sometimes I am working from home and sometimes I’m out at meetings or events. I always have a 9am check-in with the team, which keeps us all on the same page, then I’m often working with different members of the team on our future plans. I have relinquished the operational side of the business to our Head of Ops Chris, but I am still heavily involved in our business strategy, product development and marketing plans, all of which I love!
How do you manage to switch off when it feels like you have a million tabs open in your brain at once?
I admit, I am notoriously bad at switching off. I am sure most business owners would say the same! But three things help… Firstly books! I rediscovered my love of reading last year, which led to the creation of our Book Journal
. It is hard to think of anything else with your nose in a book. Secondly, getting outside. I try have a walk every day and it always makes me feel calmer. And thirdly, being a mum. Although hanging out with a five-year-old is admittedly not the most relaxing (!), it has forced me to have a much better work-life balance.
What is your guilty pleasure sweet treat?
Oh my goodness I LOVE a sweet treat! I have such a fondness for snacks that I rarely go an hour without nibbling on something. Of course, I love a biscuit or three, I also love macarons and cake. And as it’s my birthday this week I will definitely be indulging in all of the above!
We just LOVE your Instagram content - why do you think it’s so important to connect to your customers on social media
Oh thank you, I love your content too! Our community is a big part of what Martha Brook is about. We’ve tried to build a more personal and relatable stationery brand that helps people be the best version of themselves. Sharing our story and journey on Instagram
has been a big part of that and finding ways for our customers to get involved has too. Social media is such a brilliant opportunity for smaller businesses to build a different type of relationship with their customers and is something I am very passionate about.
What’s next for Martha Brook?
Ooooh yes, hopefully a lot. We have some exciting products in the works, some dream collaborations and big plans for our community. Plus, on a personal note I have a baby on the way in the summer! A bit of a miracle after six rounds of IVF, so 2023 already promises to be a big year!