A cuppa & a Custard Cream with....Liz Rawlinson of GUS & BEAU

1. Who are you and where do you come from?

Hello! I am Liz and I am the founder of gus + beau playmats. 
I am the ripe old age of 39 and clinging on to my 30s until the big 4-0 next May! I live in Beckenham with my husband Rolo and our boys Gus and Jerry.

2. What do you do and why?

gus + beau are baby playmats in simple patterns and muted colours to fit in to everyone’s homes without turning them in to soft play areas! I was on maternity leave with Gus and I couldn’t find a playmat which wasn’t an alphabet multicoloured version, so I decided to design and manufacture my own. 
My biggest driving force is the thought of being able to take Gus and Jerry to and from school when the time comes and be my own boss. I have been working for others since I was 18 so the concept of flexible working is still a huge luxury for me.

3. What are the biggest challenges you've faced in your career?

I have worked in e-commerce for about 13 years now and for some great companies. The biggest challenges came when I had children and the juggle began! Also the mum guilt crept in. I love being with my children and feel incredibly lucky to have them. I also really enjoying working and absolutely LOVE running my own business. This year in particular has been very challenging as I was on maternity leave from my role at Anya Hindmarch, running my new business and at home with Gus and Jerry during a global pandemic! I took the leap last month to leave my job and pursue gus + beau full time, a momentous occasion for me after working full time since I was 18.

4. What have been your biggest HURRAH moments so far?

This year we started selling to Kidly and to JoJo Maman Bebe. I was so delighted that two wonderful companies wanted to stock my playmats! It has given us great brand awareness too.

5. If you could give 3 pieces of advice to yourself when you started out, what would it be?

Don’t rush.
You can’t complete everything in a day AND look after your children. Try and set a realistic goal every morning and you will feel a lot better by the end of the day - rather than staring at an unticked to-do list!
Always go right back to the beginning and why you started your business in the first place.

6. What are your long-term hopes and aims?

I am aiming to be the destination for beautifully designed playmats. We have a lot of ideas for other products however we want to really establish ourselves as the best designed jigsaw playmats first!

7. Which 3 books would you recommend for: a long hour train journey (with no kids!) / a mood-lifter / a fact-finding mission (ie, non-fiction)?

This is definitely the hardest question for me, as it has been a very long time since I have read a book which isn’t a children’s book. 
For the train journey: When I was pregnant with Jerry I listened to Normal People by Sally Rooney on audible and absolutely loved it. I loved the drama version even more - as I got to see Connell in the flesh. I’ve just realised that sounds a lot worse than I intended it to! If you watched it - I can highly recommend checking out the Instagram account called Connell’s Chain when you have a spare 5 minutes. 
A mood-lifter: I recently purchased Lucy Wern’s book Hype Yourself which is a PR toolkit for small businesses. I have dipped in and out of it and it is a big mood booster for me as it inspires me to do a lot of new things for gus + beau! 
Non fiction: The A-Z of Dinosaurs - to keep up with my son, Gus.

8. What are the most common misconceptions you've found from having your own business?

That I have a team of people! My husband looks after all of the logistics and then I do everything else. When you start your own business you are head of marketing, customer services, ecommerce….everything!

9. You’re granted 1 wish (for you / your career) – what would it be?

Having the perfect work / life balance. Does it exist??

10. What’s your favourite biscuit?

M&S chocolate chip cookies. It is very important that they are the M&S ones - I have tried many others and I would know the difference in a blind taste test.

Find gus & beau here
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