Mother reveals how she ‘accidentally’ launched a hen do company with just £30 when she was ‘bored’ on maternity leave – and it’s set to turn over £250k
- Danielle Kendall from Milton Keynes, runs ‘Team Hen’, a classy hen do business
- The mother-of-two, 36, set it up after creating products for a friend’s hen do
- Hen party products were tacky and not suited to women in their 30s, she says
- Now the business turns over £250,000 a year and employs other mothers
A mother-of-two has revealed how she set up a £250,000 business from her spare room while she was ‘bored on maternity leave’.
Danielle Kendall, 36, from Milton Keynes, set up ‘Team Hen’ when she was tasked with organising her friend’s hen party in 2013.
She told Femail she’d been on ‘four or five hen parties’, including her own in 2010 which was ‘as tacky as you could get’.
Danielle wanted to find something more classy for the weekend break to Bath for her friend’s celebration, but everything on the market was ‘headboppers and genitalia-shaped straws’.
Danielle Kendall, 36, pictured, from Milton Keynes, set up ‘Team Hen’ accidentally when she was tasked with organising her friend’s hen weekend
Danielle wanted to find something more classy than ‘headboppers’ for a weekend trip to Bath, and created her own upmarket goodies. Now she’s runs a business creating such products from her back garden. She has three employees, one pictured, all of them working mothers
Danielle now balances the £250,000 business with caring for her children, Harriet, six, and son Edward, three, both pictured with her husband Arron, 37
‘Based on the ones I’d been too, and the general perception of hen parties back then, I did only expect to find tacky stuff, but I knew Kirsty, in her early thirties, would not want that kind of tat,’ she said.
In the hope of keeping the party classy, Danielle, who was on maternity leave with her daughter Harriet, now six, spent £30 on making original gift bags and badges using skills she’d learned from a career in IT.
She put the bags she had left over on Etsy, and a business was born.
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‘All the money made just went straight back into more stock, then more designs then more products,’ she said.
Although she had initially planned to go back to work soon after her daughter was born, she realised it wasn’t viable and threw herself into the business instead.
‘I definitely missed my career, as I didn’t want to leave IT,’ she told Femail.
After some success selling on Etsy, in 2015, Danielle hoped to boost business by moving to Not On The High Street, an online market place for small creative businesses (pictured, the products on Not On The Highstreet now)
‘Whilst on maternity leave I worked out that commuting to the City plus childcare meant working full time wasn’t a viable option, and flexible working was not an option’ she continued.
‘So I was faced with being a full-time mum, which sounded great but in reality I was bored.
‘I was previously very career driven, and missed the camaraderie of the office, working towards project deadlines and goals, and I really didn’t like having to rely on my husband for money.’
After some success selling on Etsy, in 2015, Danielle hoped to boost business by moving to Not On The High Street, an online market place for small creative businesses.
Danielle was pregnant with her second child, Edward, now three, at the time she was accepted to Not On The High Street, and her orders grew exponentially. She recalls one time sitting in a soft play area making hen party bracelets (pictured)
‘I applied to Not On The High Street and got rejected initially as the photos weren’t up to their standards,’ she said.
‘But they were very detailed in their feedback so I quickly learnt I needed a professional photographer.
‘Once the images were of their standard we got accepted’. It was basically just a hobby before Not On The High Street, as we were just on Etsy.
‘I made everything myself, and ran every aspect of the business.’
As soon as they were accepted, business boomed.
Danielle’s initial application to Not On The High Street was rejected, but after having professional photos taken she was listed on the online marketplace
Danielle focuses on creating products for ‘classy’ hen dos, like the sash pictured above
‘We made more in the first week on Not On The High Street than an entire month on Etsy,’ she said. ‘That’s when I realised it could be a real business.’
Clearly not afraid of hard work, Danielle was pregnant with her second child, Edward, now three, at the time and was kept very busy.
She even recalls one account of sitting in a soft play while making bracelets.
‘I basically just got on with it – orders came in and I had to fulfil them,’ she said.
‘Looking back I must have been mad, but at the time I just got my head down and ploughed on.
‘Having something to do made me happier in the long run, so in myself I was content, despite having a newborn, toddler and fledgling business.’
When Edward was three months old, her husband Arron, 37, convinced her to take on some staff.
Having no experience in business, Danielle took to a local mums Facebook group to seek help.
Danielle hopes to expand beyond her current products (pictured) to sell pyjamas and T-shirts for hens but is keen to keep growth steady while her children are young
Five years on, she now has three employees, all from Facebook, and the business is set to turnover £250,000 this year.
And while it’s not run out of Danielle’s spare room anymore, she’s not gone far, moving to a 500sqft building in her back garden.
All her employees are working mums who struggled to go back to work because of childcare.
‘All our children are of similar ages, and my staff do everything from packing and dispatching orders, to making our handmade items, customer service, PR, operations, admin – you name it, we do it,’ she said.
While she hopes to keep growing her business, she’s keen not to expand too rapidly as she’s kept very busy by her little ones.
Danielle said she has the vision to create more products but not the time to turn them into a reality just yet
‘My children are still young, so I try to reign it in a little, so I can be around to take them to nursery and school and collect them.
But Danielle does have plans for more products.
‘I would love to start a clothing side to the business for beautiful hen party T-shirts and pyjama sets,’ she said.
‘We get asked so often about these, and I have the vision – just not the time and machinery to turn them into reality at the moment; but watch this space.
‘We recently invested a Laser Cutter, which means we can create beautiful acrylic products, like our wine glass charms which are really popular for hen parties.
Danielle said she’s seen bigger companies begin to sell classier products since the success of hers – and that some copycat companies have tried and failed
The success of the business has bought in some celeb clientele, and Danielle has even seen copycat brands pop up.
Before Olivia Buckland tied the knot with Alex Bowen in the first ever Love Island wedding, her hen weekend to Greece was filled with Danielle’s products.
Strictly’s Katya Jones also bought Team Hen products for a friend’s celebration last year.
‘It’s fun to see celebrities names on the order sheets, but we often don’t know when celebrities buy from us, as their hen parties are often organised by their best friends – Olivia Buckland for example had a lot of our products, but I hadn’t realised until I saw her Instagram stories in the limo with goody bags that I had designed.
Danielle (pictured working at her home office) now wants to let other stay-at-home parents know that setting up a business is plausible
‘Katya Jones was a huge support to us last year, and tagged us in all the images, which was so lovely – she was the reigning Strictly champion at the time, so I was really excited.’
As the brand has grown, she’s also noticed a shift in the market away from tat.
‘We didn’t invent classy hen parties, we simply design and sell products to facilitate them.
‘That in itself makes it easy for women to have non-tacky hen parties, as our products are readily available and we ship orders the same day.
‘Party companies have cottoned on to the fact that women don’t want pink flashy hen parties, so whilst we started only selling our own products and designs, we now also retail third party products that fit with our ethos and aesthetic.
‘It works well, as customers can buy not only the paper party products from us, bit also our own items alongside for a more personal touch.’
Danielle now wants to let other stay-at-home parents know that setting up a business is plausible.
‘Team Hen has had no investment, no loans, no crowdfunding, no savings ploughed in – so creating a retail business from nothing is possible, if you have the vision and determination. Start lean, reinvest your profits and organic growth can happen.
‘Raising children is by no means easy, and everyone copes differently, but for me having a reason to get out of bed everyday, besides my children, did me wonders and plugged the gap left behind after I left the City.
‘The business started by accident really, and was born out of a desperation for something to do; being financially independent was the only real goal, which i’m lucky to have achieved early on.
‘So no, huge turnover is not the goal; having a brand that is synonymous with modern hen party products is the main aim; and employing mums unable to return to work due to their childcare commitments is a bonus. ‘
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