“A friend who was getting married asked me to make her a headpiece for her wedding, which I did; she loved it and said I should do it for a living. Seed. Planted.” Lisa Steane, The Bobby Pin
She’s been delivering glittering, beautifully crafted bridal accessories to bride’s locks, lobes and necklines since 2016 and has an innate ability to spot the trends before they start making waves (call it an inbuilt accessory trend radar, if you will). It is of course, Lisa Steane, founder of The Bobby Pin (and the soon to launch, The Bobby Pin Boutique). From whimsical trailing hair vines to scintillating earrings and shimmering celestial hair pins, at The Bobby Pin bridal accessories du jour are just a mere click away. I managed to catch up Lisa herself, to talk about her business journey and her version of Taking The Plunge, including the highs, the lows, the first jobs, the worst jobs and the tech she can’t live without…
Name: Lisa Steane
Business: The Bobby Pin
Date you took the plunge: Est. 2016
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“The Bobby Pin creates beautiful hair accessories and jewellery for modern brides with a love of sparkle. The brand embodies femininity, elegance and luxury to produce highly-desirable pieces that excite style-conscious brides. To remain top of the bridal accessory game, our collections are designed with current and future wedding fashion trends in mind.”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?
“Prior to setting up The Bobby Pin, my career was in fashion buying. In entering the world of weddings, my aim was to get ahead of the bridal curve. I wanted to deliver something new and exciting to style-conscious brides, so my ability to trend-spot and my experience in product sourcing/development from my fashion-buying days were both really valuable.”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“I’d met a girl while I was working for Walmart in Canada who made me a headpiece for a wedding, which she charged a small fortune for. I’ve always been quite creative and thought I could probably have made it myself. Fast-forward to me being back in the UK, and whilst between jobs, I enrolled on a millinery course at Leeds Arts College. A friend who was getting married asked me to make her a headpiece for her wedding, which I did; she loved it and said I should do it for a living. Seed. Planted.”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“It was having my son, Jude that pushed me to fully take the plunge. My job wasn’t at all family-friendly. I was a boss with a big team in a role that involved a lot of travelling. There was just no way I could do that job and be a mum. So, I started The Bobby Pin as a side hustle whilst working my notice. When Jude arrived, it meant I could work around him at my own pace with no real pressure. In the beginning, I thought it would be more of a lovely sideline, but it grew bigger and quicker than I imagined and here we are today!”
#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:
“Because I was working on the business in the background for a while and alongside having Jude, there wasn’t really a ‘first day’ as such. However, in those early days, I do remember feeling really creatively driven but also that I didn’t have anything to lose if it didn’t work out. I didn’t put any pressure on it; I just let it grow organically, as I’ve continued to do. I registered the company on 1st July 2016, and Wedding Ideas Magazine contacted me that same day, saying they wanted to feature some of my accessories in a shoot. It went in the September issue, and then things started to build from there.”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“My highlights so far would be:
– Winning ‘British Wedding Accessory Designer 2017’ at the Wedding Ideas Magazine Awards.
– Doing my first trade show at Harrogate Bridal Week last year and securing 48 stockists.
– Getting our first studio premises in Ilkley at the beginning of 2022.
– Gaining international stockists, which include boutiques in Europe, Hong Kong, Australia, Denmark, Canada and America.
– Creating our first wholesale collection – The Bobby Pin Boutique – which will be available exclusively to boutiques from January 2023.”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“As a positive person, I try not to focus on the lows. We all have wobbles and doubts, but I try to pull myself together and move on from them quickly rather than letting them consume me. Covid was, of course, a worrying time for us all, but I had my daughter Finlea at that time, so it allowed me time with her while business was slow and also gave me time to focus on where I was taking The Bobby Pin next.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “Go with your instincts – most of my gut decisions have paid off.”
No.2 “Don’t give up – it can be a hard slog at times but stay tenacious.”
No.3 “Surround yourself with the right people – build a network and peer group you can trust.”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Get up? Meditate? Read?)
“I sleep like a baby (seriously!) once I’m off, there’s no waking me up! I do like to keep a notebook by the bed to get ideas out of my head at the end of the day. I’m not really a stressful person or an over-thinker, I’m more about being practical, which is why the lists help.”
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“No surprises here…lists! Trello is literally my life. I have a list for everything and order them in priority. I love Tailwind, too, basically, anything that can speed up a process so we’re working efficiently. We’re only a really small team, so organisation is key!”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
“I really admire people who have got amazingly gorgeous brand profiles – I’m a complete sucker for prettiness! So, brands like Katie Loxton, Strathberry and Senreve. Coming into the wedding industry, I also completely fell in love with Charlotte Mills.”
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“Trello (of course!), my iMac and iPhone.”
#13 Your first ever job was…
“A checkout girl at Sainsbury’s – weekly pay, double-time on a Sunday and getting changed in the staff room after work to go out in Bradford/Leeds. Those were the days!”
#14 Your top social media tip?
“Collaboration. Working with others helps you build a network and share the work/offerings of fellow businesses. It’s all about being kind, too, someone might not have the most followers, but it happens to be a brand or a person you feel you want to connect with or support. And who knows what they might grow into.”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…
“Savin London. I adore his dress styles with beautiful floral embroidery and 3D cuts of materials. You can see how much work goes into his designs. I think my accessories would complement his floral creations perfectly!”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“I love American gift box company BOXFOX, their branding is gorgeous, and so are their products. Good branding is really important to me, and I love how these guys operate!”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)
“Instagram. It’s partially responsible for getting me to where I am now in terms of my business growth. I was on the platform in the very early days, and it’s enabled me to show off my designs, get the brand noticed and build a strong community.”
#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:
“Definitely follow your heart and your instincts. If you 100% love something and want to make it work, then go for it, but you’ve got to do it with both feet in and be prepared to work hard. Running my own business has given me the freedom and flexibility to spend time with my children, and it fills me with so much joy creatively. I just think if you don’t give it a go, you’ll always be wondering what could have been.”
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS | The Bobby Pin
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:
“Michelle Mone’s autobiography My Fight To The Top. She came from nothing and did all she could to build an incredible brand (Ultimo), and it paid off. Really inspirational!”
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
“A full-fat latte and a biscuit that contains jam or a pain au chocolat.”
#3 Instagram feed crush:
#4 Your worst job was…
“Packing boxes in a freezing factory for a company my brother worked for.”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
“Something in apparel fashion design – I love everything to do with fabrics.”
#6 Work day pick-me-up:
“An M&S sandwich and cake…with those things in hand, you can feel like you’re winning at working life!”
Discover more from from the glittering bridal accessories brand, The Bobby Pin – not to mention the brand’s glorious Instagram feed @thebobbypinuk