(Small Business Superstar) Supporting and collaborating with local businesses to succeed together

This week’s Small Business Superstars are Danielle from Red Beau Party Box and Jenette from Hardy Soft Play.


A little bit about Danielle’s amazing business…


Red Beau Party Box sells eco-friendly crafts and activities for children. Prior to the pandemic, Danielle had a lot of business for children’s birthday parties.


A little bit about Jenette’s amazing business…


Hardy Soft Play Hire offers a hire service for bouncy castles, soft play and fun stuff for party events.


What one marketing thing made a difference to their businesses? 

After the pandemic struck in March 2020 and both businesses were hit hard due to no parties being able to take place, the pair decided to contact lots of local businesses and ask them to create a small video about their products. Danielle and Jenette then packaged up the videos to promote these small businesses and their amazing products. They then set up a Christmas virtual fair via a Facebook group where businesses could showcase their products to potential buyers.


What difference did it make to them and their businesses? 


They had 230 stalls within their Facebook group and nearly 7000 shoppers to shop! All the people in the group wanted small businesses. The majority of the stallholders found their sales had increased since joining the group. Lots of stallholders also collaborated to form new partnerships. Danielle and Jenette are now so much more visible on social media since lockdown which will help them later on with their businesses.


Where you can find Danielle


Instagram: @redbeaubox

Facebook: @redbeaupartybox

Where you can find Jenette


Instagram: @hardysoftplayhire

Facebook: @hardysoftplay

Join the Virtual Fair – Virtual Fair – Support a Small Business


Transcript below


Hello and a very warm welcome to this week's Small Business Superstar Podcast. How are you doing? Uh, you'd think have to all these episodes. I don't know how many Small Business Superstar's podcasts I've done, but you'd think I would find a much easier way of saying it. But anyway, I still stumbling my words every single time.


So this week I'm not just bringing you one guest, I'm bringing you two. So please welcome Danielle Barker and Jenette Hardy to the podcast. Hello ladies, how are you doing?


Jenette: Hi, Teresa.


Danielle: We're doing well. Thank you.


Teresa: Good, good. Just so you know, obviously I know people get. Like a little bit freak about different social distance stuff. We are all on zoom. The ladies are in their own, their own homes where they are. So ladies, let's start by introducing what you do separately because you're very similar, but then you came together to do something hands so got two of you on. So Danielle, let's start with you first. Tell my lovely audience who you are and how you got to do the thing you do today.


Danielle: So I'm Danielle and I have a business called Red Beau, spelled B-E-A-U, and I make eco-friendly crafts and activities for children. And before COVID, um, it was primarily for children's birthday parties. Um, hence why we found a new Avenue.


Jenette: And I'm Jenette, and I'm in a half an hour away from Danielle. I'm also going to Party based business.


Called Hardy Soft Play Hire. So predominantly we hire out bounce castle, soft play and all the fun stuff packed in events. So come sort of March last year, 2020. Um, obviously our business went a bit wrong because no events and parties were happening. So yeah, we needed to concentrate on something else. Keep our minds active, keep the money coming in and yeah, just, just to keep us maybe forwards.


Teresa: So did you two know each other when you started your subsequent businesses or do you meet through your businesses?


Danielle: Yeah, we met through our businesses, although we do have some personal connections that we found out that later. But we've, we happens to go to the same network and events locally.


We're both farm-based, um, both rural in the North West of England. So yeah, we, we came together with a lot of similarities. We both got two children, um, and now we have lots of mutual business friends.


Teresa: Love it, love it. So you both have these party based businesses, which like you said, literally fell on its backside when COVID hit. What was your first initial.


Like how did you first think about it? And what did you think you were going to do about it?


Danielle: Well, I have no, no doubt that Jenette find a way to do it. She's very creative, very inventive when it comes to business. Um, so I knew there was, would be a, a thing that she could find to move forward. And, um, Jenette can tell you about this, but at the right, at the beginning, we, Jenette had a great idea that we collaborated on.


If you wants to tell them about that Jenette?


Jenette: Yeah. So all I have a Facebook, they're all of these funny little videos and all the young farmers and stuff were doing, whether they were passing things between each other and sharing them and getting great engagement. And I was like, there's so many brilliant small businesses.


But have so much to offer even in a global pandemic and I'm really wanting to showcase that. So, um, I put my head together with Danielle and we've contacted loads of local businesses across our area. And they all made these amazing little video clips for. It was just a few seconds long where they showcased one of their products and such of three weeks.


Took us off screen while we, and then we parceled it out to show that, you know, just because it's locked down and you can't go to a shop and you can still send amazing, wonderful gifts for local businesses in your area. You know, this is the array that's available locally, get in touch with these businesses and do it.


And that's where our subsequent idea stemmed from all around the local businesses. Been able to still offer amazing products and services, just not in the normal way.


Teresa: Yeah. Yeah. Was there ever a thought of, you know, cause then guessing you both said you live on farms, so that, that was going to continue obviously, no matter what. Was there ever a point where you thought “Do you know what we're going to be homeschooling the kids, the farm still carrying on? I might just put my feet up for a locked down and well see where we'll go.” What was that never really a consideration.


Danielle: Well it never occurred to me, it's just, I would keep going, keep working and see what I could. The more you work at something, the more things that open, open, the more ideas you have.

Um, and I thought at the very least I could educate myself more on business processes and refine how it work, refine a product at the very least, but we still found a way through.


Teresa: Yeah. Yeah, no, that's awesome. So we're loceked down. You've put together this awesome thing, which again is amazing. This is what like, saying I love about locked down that is really hard because obviously no one really loves it. But you would never have done that collaboration.


You did never contacted those businesses. You'd never have done that networking. If it hadn't been for the scenario that you were in, would you?


Jenette: No, it was, it was brilliant. It really gave us the opportunity that connects us businesses and build those relationships. Yeah, it was really good.


Teresa: And do you think as well? I'm just thinking about this, like pre COVID. I think I've had this conversation with someone literally this morning about how pre COVID we would have been like “We'll keep everything close. We're in our own bubbles.” Where, or “Our business isn't the same as the are them, or we aren't the same type of people as then.” And then I think what COVID did is it made everybody just go, “Oh my God, we are all in the same boat for the first time.”


Probably ever. We were all experiencing the same difficulties and that I don't know about you too, and what you think. But that, for me, felt like it opened up the door to just be like, “Come on in everybody, you know, we're all friends here.” Is, did you feel that when you were contacting those businesses?


Danielle: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. And we noticed once we, um, we found this other wrapping you, and we're speaking to all these different businesses, it became even more apparent because we knew for a fact that the role in the same boat and all trying to scramble to find the same outlets.


Teresa: Yeah.


Jenette: It was just a September time, but you know, still this whole idea of small business juggling and having an offering and ourselves will in June, how we can grow our businesses and grow out of reach that we came up with the idea of running a virtual Christmas fair air on Facebook.


And we're like, you know, it gives everybody the chance to really showcase what they're doing. And for shoppers to buy, you know, great items. So we started contacting those small businesses that have been involved earlier in the year. And we got most of them involved. They were, there was so key and then it just grew and grew from there.


I mean, at the start we set ourselves a target of 50 stalls and we thought if we can build a community of about 50 stalls, that would be brilliant. I will have plenty to offer. Everyone can get together, really bond and help each other. That. But by 20th of December or whatever it was, we finished the Christmas. We have 240 stalls. It's everybody wanting to be part of it. And what needs to be on board.


Danielle: On top of that, we had nearly 7,000 shoppers as well to shop with them. So, you know, we had both sides and all those people wanting sports, small businesses. It was just, well, it was a great match and, um, really nice thing to be part of.


Teresa: That's so cool. And I think, like you said, for me, especially as well, I bought a lot of Christmas presents from small businesses this last year, which not that I wouldn't normally do, but of course, normally I wouldn't do it online. Normally I would say that I would shop from a small business because I would go in the store.


Whereas I made a conscious effort to search out things and look for things that I maybe wouldn't have done in the past. But right let's just come back a little bit. So you'd never done a virtual fair before?


Danielle: No.


Jenette: No, no.


Teresa: Okay. I want you to explain, because I know for sure someone is going to be sat there, goin, “I don't get it.”


Like, what do you mean a virtual fair stalls? Shoppers are not entirely sure, like, explain the logistics of what that looks like, um, how you got to suddenly become and do this. Like, was it just second nature or did you have to learn it? Learned it? That's terrible English. Did you have to teach yourself it? I'll still look better, but you know what I mean?


Danielle: Oh, go on Jennete.


Jenette: It was to my expect. Yeah. We had to learn and yeah, just a few things, quirky things with Facebook, we had to get our heads around. But generally operated the same way as a bill fair in real life for online. So a stall holder would pay a very small fee to have a stall. And every day they could post one of their products, items, or one of their ranges to really showcase it to the members in the group. And alongside that they could have their albums.


So that would be their stall table where the kind of all the items on there. So, if you wanted to go on and have a look for, I guess your mom, you could just go on and browse through all the stalls in the albums or through the news feed and see what items were popping off. And you could search, you know, if you wanted to buy a new hat or some soap or make up, you could, you know, you could search for that within the group. I could just ask a question, just say, you know, “I need something for my mom for Christmas. She loves dogs and she loves going for a walk and she loves wine. Anybody got an ideas?” And then the stall holders could give you recommendations.


Teresa: I love it.


Danielle: We also put up suggestions for people as well. So we said, “You know, if you're looking for something for your grandparents, um, you know, stall holders post below, and then there was lots of suggestions from all the stall holders.” So that was a great prompt for people, you know, so that they could think, “Oh, well I need something from my best friend.” You know, “I'll look through this thread.” And then there was the topics tab within the group that they could go there, see all of the options, um, and just easily shop through through that way as well.


Teresa: So this was a brand new group that you just opened for this purpose?


Jenette: Yes.


Danielle: Yeah.


Teresa: And how did you market? I'm, I'm sat here thinking the, the members coming in effectively did the marketing for you.


Um, how did you market it? It was that a strategy or.


Jenette: Yeah, most, most of it was, we invited the first 50 maybe stall holders, in businesses that we knew. And then they invited all the stalls that they knew and their friends to become members. And from there, we started to obviously get seen on Facebook. So people would start joining of their own accord. Now somebody recommending us. Um, and a lot of those people were small businesses themselves on there are small businesses. And it'll go that way. Uh, we did get featured in the local press, helped as well. So that was great. Um, but yeah, most, mostly just word of mouth people going “I like what I see, I'm going to invite my friends to join.”


Teresa: Yeah, that's amazing. Isn't it? So what about the sale? Well, two things. So one, what about the sales? How did they go? Did you get good feedback from the stall holders? And then I'll come back to my next question.


Danielle: Yeah, the majority of people found that the significant increase their, um, their sales through the stall. A lot of people collaborated as well, different stallholders together. Um, so that increased their visibility because they were working with, um, new partners. Yeah. Because they just, you know, for a nominal fee that we're reaching nearly 7,000 people that they weren't reaching before and people that were ready to shop as well.


Um, the, they took the sales personally through their own usual avenues. So the website, so however, they usually took the sales. And we didn't take part in that. We just encouraged people to shop with those stallholders.


Teresa: Okay, cool. So that was good. So what about your business then. So obviously as we speak, we are still in lockdown and parties are still a non-existent thing.


Danielle, first, would you like, is this a route now that you're thinking I'm going to use this as a part of my business strategy or what sort of effect has this had on you and your business?


Danielle: Well, I already had started to put together packs for birthdays and different occasions. Um, particularly occasions work well with the virtual fair.


And what we've done is we've continued it on, um, from, for when we reopened on the 1st of January, people could rejoin until the 31st of March. And we're highlighting particular occasions within that. So there's, Valentine's day, mother's day. And there's the usual birthdays and anniversaries and things like that. You don't normally buy gifts for. Um, Well, for me personally, um, having been able to help these other businesses and getting a small income from that, um, has really helped me still helping you reach nearly 7,000 people with my products. Um, it's just opened up this whole other avenue where I can promote my work.


Um, it's great because we have it now have a stallholders group as well, just for the stallholders where we can support each other, help each other, give each other tips and advice. And we also have an email group. Where we often give out help and advice to other businesses from our own experience.


So it's, it brings all of your knowledge to the forefront because you're telling other people about it, um, as, as well as yeah having the, the usual shopping, having you available to me.


Teresa: Yeah. What about you Jennete?


Jenette: I think for me, it's most of the connections I've made with people. So now they know who I am.


Um, they know me more, especially in stallholders, as a person, as a business person, as a real person, as a mom, as a entrepreneur. So when I go forward, you know, I'm sharing stuff that I'm doing, you know, they can resonate with me and support me on my journey as well. And a lot of our stall holders and members have kids.


Now services I offer are geographically based in the area, a lot are in this area. So I think once things get back to normal, you know, I will be their first thought when they were raging kids parties and getting some books. But I mean the other, the other side of it, I think as well, it's just the whole mental health side, you know, having something to focus on something positive and, you know, everybody's so supportive and encouraging with each other.


It's absolutely amazing. Now people want to be involved. They want to help you. You want to help them and you can all work together. And not be like, “You know what? I'm just going to binge watch movies and eat popcorn and chocolate and get fat and that's going to be my life.” There's something more important to do a focus on.


And I think at the moment, especially when it's locked down keeps continuing and you really need something positive to focus on to keep going.


Teresa: I love that. You are women, after my own heart. Honestly, I think for me, you know, and I've talked about this before on the podcast and, and you know, my listeners know, but work is my happy place and I am very lucky that I do a job that is not affected.


If anything gets in improved or it's more essential now, we have the situation we're in. But, but for you guys where you did a very specific role or had a specific business based on something that literally can't happen. To understand the importance of just doing something, even though, you know, and we can do the maths, obviously the number of stallholders you've had and what you charge them.


This isn't a, this wasn't a get rich quick exercise. This was definitely done for the love of why you did it than necessarily to make money. But you put a bit of money in your pocket, which is always nice to have. Um, and you know, you, you have seen the longterm strategy of this. There was so many good things.


Literally my head is like spinning with all these good things. One, like I said, the mental health thing is huge. It's given you a purpose, it's given you something to do. It's also positioning you two a little bit, you know, as the experts here and is the, your learning a new skill you've developed it quickly.


You've done it. And you've got a story to tell about that. And also it's brought you together with this huge community and from a long-term strategy like you said, you are now known to way more people than you were at the beginning of locked down. So granted you may not be able to offer the things you've done, but you've just totally shown up.


Totally done some stuff and, and appreciated that lots of these small business owners who do similar stuff to you guys are mums or have families. And they are your customers as well as your peers in this situation. So I just think this is the most perfect example of how you took a situation and when that's not going to work.


So what else can we do? I just think you two should be high-fiving yourself pretty, fairly regularly if I'm honest. So I just want to ask one question. Have either of you ever done Enneagram . The personality trait thing?


Jenette: No.


Danielle: I can't remember what came up as it was awhile ago.


Teresa: I'm guessing Jennette for sure. You are an Enneagram three. I'm an Enneagram three.


And basically it means we jump into action all the time. So even when we don't want to, we want to like rest up. We're like, “No, we're doing that. We're doing that. We're doing that.” So yeah. I'd be interested that what you were. But yeah. That three for both of you, I think that would not surprise me in the slightest.


Ladies. I want to, uh, let my audience know where they can come and find you. So we're going to link up to everything in the show notes. So Danielle, let people know where they can come and find you online.


Danielle: They can find me at that's b-e-a-u or they can find me on Facebook at redbeaupartybox or Instagram redbeaubox.


Teresa: Perfect and Jennette?


Jenette: ‘m at And on Facebook at hardysoftplay and Instagram at hardysoftplayhire.


Teresa: Perfect. Ladies, thank you so much for joining me. Thank you so much for sharing that amazing story. You should be so proud of yourselves.


Danielle: Thank you.


Teresa: Okay. So that was the amazing Danielle and Jenette and there awesome story.


I hope you got inspired by that because I think there is so much to take away from that. You might have to go back and listen to this again, just to kind of realize how much there was. Obviously I will be back on Monday with another episode, then have a lovely weekend.