Best friends Charlie and Jess founded Coconut Lane in 2015 working out of their bedrooms and packaging up parcels in Charlie's spare room. Five years later, our Bestie Founders have crazy work schedules, manage a team of 6, have their very own warehouse, and can't get enough of the Coconut Lane chaos.
2020 has been a crazy year but Coconut Lane has grown in exciting, spontaneous directions including the launch of Cocogym (hello sustainable activewear) and a whole new sister brand - Cocopup. We thought International Women's Day was the perfect day quiz Jess and Charlie on the highs and lows of running a successful business!
IN CONVERSATION WITH: JESS
My day usually starts with an early morning dog walk (I have a 1 year old Cavachon, Ralph!) and sometimes a cheeky Costa. I love to get some fresh air before sitting down to start the day. We have been working from home a lot more due to Covid so my day usually consists of lots of work (often in my PJs) and lots of food and coffee to keep me going. The office is much more fun! I love going into work to see the team as it's much more motivating (and the truth is, I am much more productive at a proper desk with no distractions). My Mum and brother run our warehouse as well which is below our office so work feels like another home for me which is great fun! I tend to finish work around 5, go home, grab some dinner and then sit down to work more in the evening. My days are long but all worth it.
What inspired you to set up your own business?
Jess and I have always dreamed of running a business together, ever since we became best friends at 13. I would say what inspired us to do it was just the concept of being our own boss and also getting to work closely together - it doesn't feel like work when you just spend the day bouncing ideas around with your best friend.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
For me one of our biggest achievement is definitely our team. Phoebe (our Marketing Manager) has been with us for two years and we absolutely love her passion for the brand and seeing how much she has grown into such an incredible marketeer. Also it's so lovely seeing the team working together and having fun team activities - it's a great chance to step back and feel proud of what we have created.
Another massive achievement has been the community we've created. For example, when we post about a new launch on social media - the messages and love we get from all our fans is incredible and so overwhelming sometimes. It's the best feeling to know we've got such a lovely and loyal fan base.
How have you made sure that your brand is diverse and inclusive?
A massive part of Coconut Lane is the close work we do with a huge number of influencers and bloggers through our Coconut Queen Scheme. I think the scheme is a fantastic way of showing how diverse and inclusive we are as a brand - there's all different types of influencers that we are so proud to work with. We don't make decisions as to who we work with based on how someone looks, or their follower count - we treat everyone as an human not a number and we love working closely with influencers from all different walks of life!
We've also had some super positive feedback recently from our Coconut Lane customers saying how happy they were to see a range of size models in our new Cocogym launch. We felt it was really important to showcase the items on different body types/sizes and I think we did a great job of this - it's so lovely to get positive feedback from our customers saying how happy this made them feel!
Looking back, what advice would you give to your pre Coconut Lane self?
It sounds cheesy but my biggest advice would be GO FOR IT. Honestly, when Jess and I told people we were setting up our own business at age 23, pretty much everyone said - 'oh, give it a few more years, get some more experience'. But actually, looking back, I'd say to myself - 'don't worry about experience, you'll learn as you go and there's no time like the present!'
Can you name a woman/ quote that inspires you the most?
Libby Crow is a speaker/mentor who I love. She has a lot to say about the importance of adaptability which I definitely think is very true. A lot of the success of Coconut Lane has come from being highly adaptable as a brand. We're a small team and we work hard so we're super quick to make things happen.
What advice would you give to aspiring female business leaders?
My biggest piece of advice would be to work hard. There's so much talk these days of putting good thoughts out there and good things will come to you - whilst I definitely believe in the power of positivity, ultimately, nothing good just falls into your life, you need to work hard for success.