This week we interviewed the inspirational Cecilia Crossley. Cecilia used to work as a Chartered Accountant in the City before founding social enterprise From Babies With Love. Cecilia lives in Harpenden with her two sons, Isaac aged 4, and Sam, aged 1 and a half. 

Tell us about the inspiration behind the social enterprise From Babies with Love, your role within business, and why it’s so important to you.

My inspiration for setting up From Babies with Love came from becoming a mum. My eldest son was born just before Christmas; when the children’s charity appeal adverts came on, with him in my arms, I felt a new strength of emotion.

Becoming a parent heighted my concern for the welfare of children universally. Of course the instinct to protect my children comes first, but the thought of any child, anywhere, living in a rubbish dump, sickens me. I believe everyone feels this way, parents especially.

I was out shopping for my son’s clothes when I thought to myself: if I could buy beautiful baby clothes and know the profit helps children in need, why would I buy anywhere else? So I set up From Babies with Love, selling beautiful organic baby clothes – but instead of profits going to shareholders, 100% goes to orphaned and abandoned children.

You set up From Babies with Love in 2012, what have you achieved so far?

The best achievement is that, thanks to our customers, we’re already supporting over 200 children.

For example, Mariama was a newborn baby whose mother had sadly passed away and whose family was not in a position to look after her. She was born in The Gambia – one of the poorest countries in the world. But then her life changed, she became part of a new family living in an SOS Children’s Village. Now a little girl, Mariama has a new, permanent home, where she is growing up safely, loved by her SOS mother, brothers and sisters, and goes to nursery school.

How can our readers help?

Every purchase at From Babies with Love supports Mariama and many babies like her all over the world to live, be loved and cared for, in children’s villages run by our partner charity SOS Children.

We would love to ask My Baba readers to visit our shop, tell their friends about us and join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Our baby clothes are brilliant for baby gifts; we deliver them in a complimentary drawstring gift bag and with one of our stylish greetings card too. We post lots of great photos of the children, so all our supporters can see the children grow up and enjoy knowing how their shopping is changing their lives.

Landscape image for MyBaba 12Mar15

Tell us about why you think consumers are keen to ‘buy social’ and how easy is it to do so these days?

There’s lots of research showing fantastic growth in the number people wanting to increase their socially responsible shopping.

Reports about the ‘millennial’ generation in particular (born between 1981 – 1996) note that people are disappointed in business and government leaders and expect improvement in social and environmental responsibility.

Millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance, and now that they are moving in to their 30’s and have growing purchasing power, we see increasing demand.

Social Enterprise UK has set up a directory to help find places you can buy social, and with the number of social enterprises growing it will keep getting easier.

What pearls of wisdom would you most like to pass on to your children?

 I’m a great believer in the quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu which I hope I can instil in my boys:

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

How do you fit running a business around family life? What are your top three tips for establishing a healthy balance?

I’m lucky to have fantastic family support. With their help I’m able to work full time, but I work flexibility so that I can spend some dinner times with my boys. Three things that work well for me are:

  • the no toys at the table rule – i.e no iPhone/ work distractions!
  • I have a standing weekly date with some girlfriends – we simply call it Wednesday Club. I love the fact that I don’t need to plan – even think – but I know I’ll see the girls and be out in London at least one night most weeks.
  • my laptop. I work all over the place – grabbing every second. I’ve come to know fantastic places in London where I can get loads done in between meetings – I love the British Library and the Royal Festival Hall.

Share with us your favourite family recipe.

My Mum’s rice and black beans, served with meat loaf. The rice and beans are part of the Brazilian national dish “feijao”; my Mum’s from Rio and I love Brazilian food, Brazilian drink, Brazilian culture… etc!

What’s in the pipeline for From Babies with Love, and what does the future hold for you personally?

We’re very excited about this year, which we began by launching our new branding and website. Our pipeline includes our first own label collection of baby clothes, a partnership with a national retailer and launching our maternity & paternity leave gift service.

Every penny of our profit goes to the children – adding this to our customers’ purchasing experience creates exciting new ways for us to do business, which I really enjoy developing.

In the future I hope to be able to apply the models we’ve developed to other markets – I want to always be contributing to changing the way we produce, buy and use products and services.

What’s the one baby product you couldn’t have lived without?

With my eldest it was one of the white noise machines you can attach to a moses basket, it really helped his sleep. And with my youngest it has to be a dummy!

How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?

By my blood type: B positive!