By day sisters Emma and Carly are stay at home mums, raising 6 children between them ranging in age from 2 months to 10 years. Carly worked within financial crime up until she had Olivia who is now 3, Florence who is 2 and Frankie who is 2.5 months. Emma worked in HR up until having her first son Brody (now 10), she also has Connie (8) and Casey (5).
They are also the creators of Casey & Cole, a brand that aims to provide stylish, sustainable and irresistible products for the modern family.
We chatted to them to find out a bit more about why they decided to set up their own weaning brand...
What inspired you to set up Casey & Cole?
We were inspired to create our own brand of weaning products as we could never find items that were practical as well as stylish. We felt we couldn’t be the only ones looking for it. Each dinner time we would sit down to eat dinner as a family and end up serving up the children’s food in plastic bowls that didn’t match and clearing up after they had been thrown on the floor.
We both felt we didn’t want to return to our full time careers as we wouldn’t get to spend much time with our children but still wanted to use our brains and be financially independent. We have always been very close as sisters and felt we had different skill sets that compliment each other. After another sleepless night feeding a newborn and looking for stylish baby weaning products that we couldn’t find we decided to do it for ourselves.
Just as we started talking about setting up the company little did we know we were heading for our first national lockdown. Whilst not an ideal time to start a company we both felt it helped get us through it as it gave us a focus and something to talk about over the phone. Although it was challenging while Emma was home schooling two children and looking after a pre-schooler.
Carly was also dealing with a screaming baby who was yet to be diagnosed with a cow’s milk allergy, so Casey and Cole quickly became our escapism.
Why is sustainability important to you?
We are concerned about the impact of plastic for our children's futures as well as future generations. We wanted our products to be more sustainable as it is more cost effective for families and will last longer therefore less plastic usage and waste.
We have our products sent by sea or rail so it has a lower carbon footprint than flying them to the UK. We are only a small company so can’t change the world but we like to think we are making a small contribution. If lots of brands make small changes then over all it has a bigger effect.
Where does the brand name come from?
So Casey is our mother's maiden name and very sentimental to us, that is why Emma’s son is called Casey. Because he is called Casey we didn’t want everyone to think it was named after him so we used Carly’s children’s surname which is Colegate and shortened it to Cole to make Casey & Cole!
Were you daunted by setting up your own brand?
It was daunting to start with but we spent a lot of time researching our products and testing them before deciding on the products to sell. But essentially we went with products that we knew would make our lives easier, were practical and would last. We deliberately chose silicone products because it can go in the microwave, dishwasher, oven and freezer which we know makes a busy mum's life much easier.
Are there any skills you’ve honed as mums that helped when setting up your own business?
Our negotiation skills are much stronger since having children, most days start with negotiations over what colour bowl to eat breakfast from!
We also have to be more decisive, we don’t have time to procrastinate. If we dedicate an hour to a task then we have to make sure that hour is productive and we don’t waste it. Free time as parents is not something we have a lot of.
What’s your favourite product in the range/the most innovative?
We tried to put together a collection of products for the different stages of weaning as we have children at all different stages. We wanted to offer the products in sets so for anyone unfamiliar with weaning would be able to purchase a set and they would be ready to go.
One of our favourite product is the snack cup as they are so convenient to take out and as anyone with young children will know snack are an essential on any outing!
How do you find juggling work/life/kids – any tips?
We both know our strengths and weaknesses so we divide the workload based on that, but as we are both parents we understand that things come up that need to be prioritised, like if one of the kids gets ill etc. We are also queens of multitasking and have held many business meetings at a soft play centre! Sometimes you have to accept that some things may take slightly longer than planned but you get there in the end.
Do you have any other favourite sustainable brands/products you buy as mums?
Ooh yes, our three favourites are Little Mori, Little hopper by Sofie and scandiborn.
What advice would you give to other parents who have an idea for a parenting product?
Take the chance, just make sure you do your research. But if you believe in the products other parents will too.