We are one whole month into this Indie Christmas Giveway and it has been amazing to showcase such a variety of makers and creatives. From minimalist-chic jewellery, to rustic-scandi homewear, to naturally-sourced fabric quilts, it has been a joy to see other people learn of these wonderful Northern Irish indie businesses that are working hard to keep doing what they love. This week I want to introduce you to the person behind the beautiful baby boutique 'My Little Duke' - Steph Duke! Steph and I connected online as I have been scouring her trendy site for our up-coming arrival and was so excited to see our shared love of baby products that are well designed and are easy on the eye for parents who like style.
Let's find out some more...
Lovely Steph! Welcome to the blog! Tell us who you are, where you are and what you do!
Hello! I’m Steph. I’m mum to Phoebe who turns a big ONE next week (where did that time go?!) and wife to my music producer husband, Matt. We were two cringe worthy teenage sweethearts and have been married now for almost 6 years. I’m an English Teacher by day and new small business owner by night!
How did My Little Duke come about?
While pregnant with Phoebe, I spent way too much time on the internet eyeing up beautiful baby items. Everything I wanted to buy seemed to come from America and the shipping costs were huge. Some places wouldn’t even ship to Northern Ireland! I became frustrated that I couldn’t find equally beautiful items here in the UK. That is when the idea for My Little Duke was formed. I decided to stock and sell the items that I loved for mamas and babies. These products come from awesome business mamas in the States who are passionate about their brand. I am proud to support them!
I remember tentatively telling Matt about my business idea. I had no idea what he would think. Was I crazy? Was I completely mad to even think it was a good idea? Of course he was 100% supportive and honestly, without him, there would be no My Little Duke at all: no website, no graphics, no business cards. It just so happened that the products I naturally seemed to be drawn to for Phoebe were all a similar style and branding and things really just flowed from there.
What is your favourite part of the business?
I am especially enjoying the new connections I am making with mamas both here in the UK and across the Atlantic! I’ve met so many amazing mumpreneurs who are striving every day to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I also can’t deny the sheer joy and delight I feel each and every time I open up a parcel filled with new stock for the store!
Uh yeah! That sounds like so much fun! So where do you find inspiration for what you have in the store?
Instagram is a wonderful place! I have discovered some real gems on there for the store. I’m particularly drawn to products that are a little bit different: Products that are both practical and stylish and books/toys that are educational and beautifully designed.
And that really shines through in your carefully selected stock! And what are your hopes for the future of MLD?
I hope that I can continue to expand the range of products in the store and develop the blog feature on the site. I love collaborating with other entrepreneurs and bloggers so I definitely want to grow this side of the business.
That sounds brilliant - I know the blogging community here will welcome you with open arms!
From what you've experienced so far, what is the best bit about being an indie shop here in NI?
It is amazing to be part of a small but fast growing group of creative and collaborative entrepreneurs. People here are becoming more mindful of supporting local businesses and it is brilliant to be involved!
As the owner of an independent business, how do you feel about supporting indie businesses on the lead up to Christmas?
I never thought I would feel so passionately about supporting small businesses like I do now. It is too easy sometimes to buy into the big corporates out there and we convince ourselves that it is easier and quicker. However, if we stop and think about where we are really sowing our money into … would it not be better to support our local businesses and communities? Our money would be much better spent and appreciated!
I tend to agree! Thinking about Christmas as a mama now is a special thing - what are some of your best Christmas memories?
To this day I can still remember waking up on Christmas morning as a young child. I felt that kind of nervous and excited anticipation that makes your whole body shake. I was hoping and praying that Santa had visited! A tradition in our house was for Dad to go downstairs, check if Santa had been and put on the Christmas tree lights and music. My sister and I would impatiently get our Mum out of bed while Dad would flip open up the camcorder and tape us as we tiptoed excitedly down the stairs. The living room door was always slightly ajar so we could just about see that glorious sight – a twinkling tree surrounded by presents upon presents in brightly coloured paper. We would rush in and begin inspecting, examining and ripping open our surprises! There really is nothing quite like those magical moments we shared as a family. I cannot be more excited to enjoy this Christmas tradition with my own little family this year!
What are some of your favourite traditions during the Christmas season?
Nothing beats the smells uniquely associated with Christmastime … The aromas of mulled wine, cinnamon and cloves; scents that instantly put you in that Christmassy mood. I also love visiting local Christmas markets and craft fairs, hunting for unique presents for loved ones and enjoying hot cider in the crisp air.
I LOVE Christmas smells! The best.
Isn't it fab to hear about someone seeing a gap in the market and just going for it? I love that. Check out some more of the awesome stuff Steph stocks in My Little Duke!
I imagine I'll be making many a virtual stop off at My Little Duke in the coming months! This is the perfect spot for you to pick up something original and thoughtful for any babes you happen to love this Christmas and for special occasions to come!
Fabulously, Steph is giving away one of my FAVOURITE items from My Little Duke to one lucky reader: A Native Wilds, 4-in-1 Ruby Nest!
This lightweight and silky soft Bamboo Nest is a new motherhood staple! There are unlimited uses in this one quality cover that doubles as an infinity scarf. Each nest features a patented built-in storage pocket that's perfect for keeping track of your baby's essentials when being used as a car seat canopy, shopping trolley cover, or nursing cover. You can also fold the entire nest into it, so you never have to worry about how to stuff another cover into your changing bag! GENIUS!
To win the Native Wilds Nest, all you have to do is this:
+ Like & Share the image on my facebook page outlining the giveaway! When you have shared it – comment ‘DONE!’ so we know!
+ You can share it as many times as you want between now and the close of the giveaway at MIDNIGHT, on SUNDAY, December 6th!
+ Winner will be announced on Monday, December 7th. Open to UK readers only.