A few words from the founders of Coconut Lane for International Women's Day!
How did you both become friends?
We met back in school when we were 11. We became best friends instantly and were pretty inseparable throughout the whole of school, so much so that we were then desperate to go to Uni together which we did - we both went to Bristol Uni and stayed besties. The only time in our lives we spent not seeing each other pretty much every day was when I (Charlie) moved to London and Jess stayed living around Oxford for a few months - we missed each other loads but chatted on the phone most nights.
How did Coconut Lane begin?
We started Coconut Lane back in 2015, I (Charlie) had done an unpaid 3-month internship in marketing but it was with a start-up, so I learnt a bit about the business. The internship came to an end and I didn't know what to do - so I moved back home to Oxfordshire as I was tight on money so moved back in with my parents. Jess was living at home doing a social media marketing job for a wedding company. We've always wanted to run a business together, but at 23 everyone told us we were way too young and needed to get more 'experience'. We ignored them anyway and thought we'd give it a go - as I was unemployed, so we had nothing to lose! It was a tough first year but with the support of loads of influencers (our Coconut Queen Scheme) we started to see some sales and traction to the point where Jess could afford to leave her job and we were both focused on it full time. 7 years later and here we are - with a fab team of 7 incredible women who we love working with every single day.
What are both of your top picks?
Charlie - I’d definitely say my fave picks have evolved with the brand. When we first started I was obsessed with unicorns, flamingos and pineapples - so my faves were our Phone Cases with these prints. Now that I'm 30, I'd say my style has definitely simplified a lot and I go for more simple timeless pieces. I love our NAKD range as I love wearing statement colours to match my vibe. From the print perspective, I love Ivory Tort - I just think it's really sophisticated and such a lovely design.
Jess - so my obsession is definitely our sister brand Cocopup's Dog Walking Bags which we also sell on Coconut Lane. I honestly use the Dog Walking Bag every day, not just for Dog Walks. I have every single strap and switch them up depending on my outfit. Also, I love matching with Ralph and looking coordinated on our dog walks haha.
What are your biggest pinch-me moments since starting Coconut Lane?
Charlie - my pinch-me moment has to be Cyber Monday, every single year when Royal Mail come to our warehouse to collect the parcels on Cyber Monday it's always such an incredible moment - I just am still in shock that SO many people around the world have placed orders with us. Standing in front of all the mailing sacks is such an overwhelming feeling and witnessing the hard work of all our warehouse pickers and packers to get your orders out to you - it's so great!
Jess - I get a pinch-me moment every time I see our products out and about. When I walk past people on Dog Walks with our harnesses/bags or when I see people with our Phone Cases - it's just such a fantastic feeling and makes me feel very proud of what we have created!
Where would you like to see Coconut Lane be in the next 5 years?
Charlie - I'd definitely love to see Coconut Lane expanding more globally in the next 5 years. We do have some orders from the US and other countries outside the UK, especially on Cocopup, but it would be great if we could scale this up and reach more people in other countries! It's definitely a challenge knowing what marketing works best in other countries, but it's one we're excited to try!
Jess - In the next 5 years we'd love to see Coconut Lane and Cocopup in more shops and have more of a high-street presence. We aren't going to open a physical store for the time being but we work with loads of boutiques and stockists (especially with Cocopup products) and it's just the best feeling seeing our products in real life in shops! A huge part of my childhood and teenage years was spent shopping, obviously, the world of online shopping is incredible, but I do still love walking into cute boutiques and having a mooch around, I love the idea of more shops selling our products!
A woman who inspires you and why?
Charlie - JESS! Haha. I know that's so predictable but honestly, I find working with Jess so inspiring because she has such different skills to me. She is so confident and can just pick up the phone and pitch to people, which is something I really struggle with. She's also so good at managing our staff and giving constructive criticism, she's definitely far more managerial than me, and her ability to have sometimes tricky conversations is something I continually find inspiring!
Jess - I find my Mum really inspiring, throughout my life she has had really senior roles and progressed quickly in companies. Growing up I watched her travel to London every day and work hard to build her career. She is such a successful woman and someone I really look up to in terms of teaching me how to be organised, ambitious and achieve great things!
Your favourite personal moment since Coconut Lane started?
Charlie - My personal favourite has to be our Christmas party last year as this is the first Christmas Party we've done having quite a big (well big by my standards) team of 7. The drinks were flowing and we all got on the dancefloor and had a boogie to Abba (and I love Abba!) It's so fun to have such a close-knit team, every day feels like you're just going to hang out with your best friends.
Jess - I think my fave moment had to be Black Friday last year, not just because of the amazing sales which is such a great feeling, but more because of the community feel between us and our warehouse. On Black Friday all our staff (including Charlie & I) focus on picking and packing orders and helping the warehouse team downstairs. We often have extra helpers in, family, friends, anyone really! We always have Christmas music blasting and we always get dominos - it's such a fun atmosphere which I just love being a part of!