Meet Lara, Hapi parent and Apparently Kids founder
November 25, 2020
If you want your faith in humanity restored, then Lara is the person to talk to. Not only she’s nothing like you would imagine someone with her impressive professional background to be (read corporate), she’s actually incredibly modest and refreshingly open about her recent life changes, both as a new mum to Rory and her exciting journey as Apparently Kids founder.
What made you start Apparently Kids?
Every parent has a story where something in the pregnancy, or immediately after that kind of shocked them fundamentally. I had a fairly smooth pregnancy but had birth complications and it meant my son wasn’t feeding very well, he wasn’t sleeping very well and after about 6 weeks of pure sleep deprivation, my husband and I were floored.
I’m a mentally resilient person but sleep deprivation does bad things to you and I think it shocked me to my core that as such a normally strong person, I just couldn’t cope and started feeling resentment towards the baby - I could see how people quickly spiral into postnatal depression from there.
I supposed what inspired me was that my mum very kindly paid for a private midwife to come and help us. This lady swept in and she brought us breastfeeding consultants, a woman’s health physio, she sorted out our son’s feeding issues and she basically gave us the level of care that we needed to get back on track. When I looked at my other mum friends, I realised that so many of them were still struggling and then I started to share the details of all these people with them. Others had struggled needlessly for so long when something could have been done about it but they were just completely ignorant of what that was.
So it annoyed and frustrated me that so many women and new parents were so obviously struggling needlessly. Over my maternity leave I just talked to loads of women and every single person had a story and almost all of them could have been solved. I wanted to change it and help parents to find a product where all of these professionals were in one place so it starts educating them on what is available to them and what can help them.
What’s your number one advice to new parents?
Can I be cheeky and have two?
Firstly: Do a baby-focused first aid course before you give birth. This really could make all the difference in an emergency situation.
Secondly: Think about how you are going to look after yourself as well as your new baby. Those first few months of the 4th Trimester can be a very challenging time and affect new parents so differently. For example if a mum has a challenging birth or c-section, it’s often the partner that immediately becomes the primary caregiver to both mum and baby! It’s worth talking through how you can find support during this period should you need it. Options include friends and family providing a bit of babysitting and delivering food, to professionals such as private midwives, maternity nurses and postnatal doulas.
What positive changes has parenthood brought to your life?
Our little 18 month old has certainly brought change to our life. He’s brought lots of new friends, a greater sense of being a part of a community in our local area and a different sense of perspective. He’s also made us up our game with extreme time management, organisation and patience. My husband and I have learnt that we can do pretty much anything with our little one as long as we’re well organised and we have lots of snacks just in case!
It takes a village - did you get any help building Apparently?
I first started by talking to the professionals that helped me - the private midwives, the breastfeeding consultants and I just asked them about what they did and why I hadn't heard of them before. Their view was that they’re only single people, they’re running around trying to sort everything, they’re not business minded, they’re not advertising very much because they don’t need to. They were saying that they’re so upset that they often get to people too late and they wish people came to them earlier.
That’s when I pointed out that’s why they need to be advertising! I started this network and then more and more professionals asked if they could join and then when I decided to go full time, I was really overwhelmed to see that the vast majority of professionals in this network had a corporate background and something in their own pregnancy caused them to go into this profession.
One of our reflexologists used to work in social media and branding and she’s now doing all of my branding and managing all that for me. It’s so lovely that as a collective, everyone is happy to get on board and support me and give me advice on which journalists to talk to or how to position the brand. They’re all using their backgrounds and giving me professional advice.
What have been the biggest challenges for Apparently to date?
I come from a corporate background where I ran a team of 20 and when I first started I had to realise that it’s just me and things aren’t always going to be perfect but something is good enough. Even if it’s not perfect, you need to have confidence that you’re taking steps every day. My own expectations of what I could achieve has been a challenge.
What does success look like for Apparently?
I want people to think of Apparently the same way they think about NCT classes so it becomes common parlance when you’re thinking about having a baby or just had one and you’re looking for support. For me it’s that familiarity and the fact that they equate it with trusted, respected professionals and that you know that spending money with them will get you quality advice and service. It’s such an unregulated market and I think there are too many horror stories of people paying lots of money to, say, sleep consultants when their children are 6 weeks old and they’re not scientifically able to learn how to sleep at that age - that’s a waste of money! You should know that if you pay for advice through Apparently it’s going to genuinely help you and not take advantage of you.
What advice would you give first time founders, especially mothers?
The best advice I was given was to just start something. If you’ve got an idea just wait for it to be perfect and find the right time, you’ve never going to launch it. The first website was put together by me on Wix. It wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t slick, but it got me started and it got me having conversations that moved me forward. Whatever you’re thinking of, just start it!
How are you preparing for the goals you have in life for your child?
My partner and I spoke with our parents about what their goals for us had been which was a really lovely and thought provoking conversation. This helped us shape our goals for our son. We’ve done our own housekeeping (updating wills, declaring beneficiaries on pensions etc) as well as opening a Junior ISA for regular saving. It’s hard to know exactly where we’ll be in 3, 5, or 10 years time, but we both know we want to start building a savings pot that we can use to help our son with whatever his goals turn out to be.
Finish the sentence. “Launching a business when you have a young child is like…..”
...riding a lion. From the outside, everyone’s like “wow she’s riding a lion” and from the inside I’m like “sh*t, i’m riding a lion and can’t fall off it”. It looks quite glamorous and super woman-y but oh my goodness, what a rollercoaster! I just think it’s an amazing experience and I had to try it!
For more information on Apparently Kids and Lara Russell-Jones, please visit apparentlykids.co.uk.