Lohralee Astor, 39, and Elizabeth Sieff, 38 are both young, West London mums who only 3 months ago launched Storcx, which so far has been an inspirational success.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lohralee and Elizabeth this past week to discuss their amazing success with Storcx.com, a money pooling website that has been three years in the making. Storcx allows you to collect funds from your friends for any present or event, so that you (or your child) can choose exactly which present you really want. I’ve tried it for a party and it all worked perfectly! Amazingly, Lohralee has done this while having four kids under 7 years old (supermom!) and this isn’t Elizabeth’s first business, having launched and founded Little Emperors in 2008 (another supermum)! They are both inspirational, but not only that, they are absolutely lovely.
Tell Me About Yourselves.
Lohralee: I’m from Vancouver, Canada and I moved to London where I simultaneously modelled and studied at CNM to get my Nutritional Therapist Dip. Then I met my husband, had 4 children and have been in London ever since. Prior to coming to London, I was in sales for Diesel and other fashion lines. I also studied interior design at Inchbald School of Design and did up and sold various houses. Oh, and I also wrote a cookbook while pregnant!
Elizabeth: I’m English – and I grew up just outside London – but moved to London to study and got a business degree in 2003. I first worked in corporate finance and then in private banking recruitment search but when the 2008 financial crash happened, it wasn’t a lucrative time to be in recruitment! So I started Little Emperors, a private members Travel and Dining Club, which I sold in 2012. I also have two children who keep me incredibly busy.
How did you meet?
We were both pregnant at the same time and were introduced by a common friend. We clicked immediately and had our boys two days apart. They are best friends – actually, they consider themselves brothers. We went on long walks while pregnant and became very close. It’s amazing to work with your best friend! (They’ve never had any fights). It also helps us having someone to talk to at work when life has its ups and downs. And everyone has them!
How did you come up with the idea of Storcx?
We both were going to so many children’s birthday parties – as well as having our own children’s birthday parties – and found all the gifts so wasteful and that children weren’t really appreciating them. We were surprised to find that no one had come up with an idea to pool together money to buy one gift rather than 25 separate gifts. We wanted to give back the spirit of gift giving and for children to actually get what they really wanted. Then we realised we could expand the idea into housewarming parties, dinner parties, weddings, and adults birthdays.
Tell me about the journey from the idea of Storcx until the launch this year.
We began working on Storcx in 2015 and we would meet every morning at the Electric to discuss our ideas. We both had the same vision and we decided to first build this massive website and then pick what was essential and turn it into a more user friendly website. It has taken us three years! But it’s been so exciting – we were nominated by the Good Web Guide for ‘Best Start Up’ and ‘Most Useful Website’ and we were Runner Up for the ‘People’s Choice Award.’
What has been the biggest challenge?
The tech side of things has been really hard. Finding the right person to build our website was difficult. We first started trying to build an App but then realised that a website was the way to go first. Also to bring it down from a huge website to a concise one was difficult.
How is it balancing motherhood and your other ‘baby,’ Storcx.com?
The great thing about being an entrepreneur is flexibility. We both can do drop offs and pick ups if we want to and work from 9:30am-3pm during school hours but tend to do a lot of evening work solo – although this may change in the New Year as we’ve got lots of exciting things happening! Of course, you sacrifice time with your children (and the gym!), but we really focus on work during the week and the weekends are dedicated to our children.
What advice do you have to young mums looking to start their own business?
Elizabeth: Take your time, do it slowly, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. When the time is right, it will happen.
Lohralee: I am definitely a ‘doer’ and when I had my children, I felt like I still needed to do something. But enjoy that precious time with your children and wait until you are ready.
Thank you so much Elizabeth and Lohralee for chatting with me this week! Wishing you the best of luck with it!