Interview with ParentVille.
Introducing, Kane Dowell the founder of traditional confectionery & sweet gifts brand Ask Mummy & Daddy. Kane shares his incredible story about how a lucky break with Cath Kidston started his entrepreneurial journey. Prepare to be inspired.
Tell us a little about yourself?
To be honest there’s not much to tell but I’ll give it a go. I left school at 15 years old with no GCSE’s. I had no real direction in what I wanted to do for a living. I was always at school but academically I wasn’t the best as I really suffered with dyslexia which made things hard but I never used that as an excuse so I just learned as much as I could.
When leaving school at such a young age and not knowing where to go I started working at my mothers furniture shop in Fulham which was fun and I would say that’s where I got my break, Cath Kidston herself used to visit regularly and that’s when she only had one shop and I basically asked her for a job which I was given at the age of 16 and fast forward I was there for 10 years and it was amazing from travelling all around the U.K. & USA opening stores to raising awareness of the brand at festivals and shows I was involved in most departments from visual merchandising, operations to marketing!
After leaving Cath Kidston I was then was approached by the founders of Biscuiteers where I joined as Operations Manager.I was there for nearly 3 years, it was amazing as I was brought on to help open there first ever stores and help stabilise operations within the business and it was a great role, amazing people to work with and what I loved was the gifting aspect of the business.
Now that’s my work life! From a personal point of view I love to travel I have travelled from Hong Kong, Australia, USA, Vietnam aswell as throughout Europe.
I love to watch football, hang out with friends and family!
I’ve had my struggles – when 18 I got myself in debt over over £12,000 which was awful – I don’t even know how or what I did with this money! My dad at the time was like “your living your life like a rockstar” – I paid every single penny back and it took years and years but proud to this day I did.
I’m also very proud of my brother John Dowell (aka King Nerd). John is an artist of the highest level and is destined for the big time but what I love is he don’t even know it! He has done work for some massively famous people and I’m a very proud little brother!
What inspired the concept of your business?
I always wanted to have my own business but I also was aware I had to get some help which is why I got in contact with a best mate and super creative Scott Young (business partner) who is responsible for the designs on all our packaging, labels, website and the list goes on and on!
I approached Scott and said “let’s create a business which can be in the gifting sector” and that’s what we did
Coming up with the name was the hardest part of starting my business. Thankfully my Dad made the suggestion of calling it “Ask Mummy & Daddy”. We love it and it stuck!
Our plans for the business are big – we are off to Dubai towards the end of this year, to look at opportunities there. We are opening a pop up at Westfield for 2 months and then we have a few Christmas events in November aswell so we are very busy! Oh and also creating a brand new website which will allow services like click and collect from the office and shop!
So it’s safe to say it’s busy!!!!
When starting, did you have challenges & how did you overcome these?
What I would say is – don’t try and run before you can walk, know the industry your in, do lots of market research! I did lots of travelling understanding our sector and we are still learning!
Our biggest challenge has to be when we had an order of over 4,000 units from Selfridges and we was working through the night, I had boxes everywhere over my flat and it was mental.
We over came issues when we re-launched and we got ourselves an office/Production space but don’t get me wrong we are still learning and you always are but it’s about slowly improving and making strides for the long term!
What has been your biggest success so far?
I would say success I would say what am I proud of! So opening the store was a pride factor but I just love having fun, engaging and creating memories with the business.
My success would be to be able to chat to like-minded people And help give advice etc about starting something! We need more UK base businesses trying to start something but I would always say to stick at it, have a clear vision and work hard!
How do you juggle your personal life and your business?
I wouldn’t say I have to juggle – I surround myself with good people that help and muck in but then we have a good beer at the end of the week! I have had to rain it in slightly with holidays and that’s just part of growing a business.
How do you find time to relax while not working?
I’ll be honest I just like to chill but I never really switch off! I was just in Miami and ever morning I would be checking my emails! I guess because it’s my baby I want what’s best but I know I’ll have to let go slightly.
What is your top tip for starting a small business?
Know your sector and industry very well, listen to advice, take your time, engage with your customers and just stay focused! Only do it if you want to do it because it is hard, very hard so your have plenty of ups and downs!
If you could invite a special guests to an dinner party who would it be?
It would have to be Richard Branson, Peter Jones (from dragons den) and Chantal Coady who founded Rococco because I love hearing about success stories, struggles and issues they occurred!