Start up stories .. Dorothy and Theodore

Dorothy & Theodore is a brand new online shopping boutique created specifically for parents who do not wish to wholly compromise on style in order to accommodate the needs and wishes of their children. It is the 5th ‘baby’ of co-owners Sally & Emma who, from the day that we agreed it was a good idea to jump out of an aeroplane together at 13,000 feet, realised we had found a like-minded life-long friend in each other, both willing to take calculated risks if the rewards justified it.

We met over 8 years ago at law school where we were both pursuing second careers as solicitors, and have been friends ever since, supporting each other through our legal qualifications and training, engagements, weddings, pregnancies, babies and everything else which becoming a ‘grown up’ brings!

As parents, (Sally is mummy to 3 year old Dalton and the newest member of the D & T team, 17 week old Belle, and Emma is mummy to 3 year old Sophie and the other new D & T addition, 6 month old Joshua) we realised first hand that there is currently no one place which offers a one stop shopping solution where parents, relatives and friends can purchase beautiful products with children in mind. We have both spent hours trawling the internet for child-friendly yet stylish products for our home and unique gifts which have not been mass produced. Sharing frustrations over coffee and cake one afternoon led us to the idea for Dorothy & Theodore; a new e-commerce website created specifically to address this gap in the market, and in spite of the old adage; “don’t mix business with pleasure” we both felt strongly enough about our concept for Dorothy & Theodore that we decided to take the plunge together once more.

In terms of our backgrounds, after college, I undertook a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies which included a scholarship at the University of South Florida. On completing my studies I successfully pursued a career as a singer and entertainer working for, amongst others, the Walt Disney Company in Paris, Toronto and the US.

Whilst abroad, I began studying for my second degree, and eventually put away the greasepaint to pursue a career in law. I am now a qualified solicitor and have recently completed a Masters in Advanced Legal Practice.

Emma studied International Business and Modern Languages at Aston University which included a year abroad (her main reason for choosing the course!) during which she studied at Université Laval in Québec and completed a work placement at consultancy firm Thasos AG in Munich. Following her degree, Emma completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Law and then spent two years gaining commercial experience (and some finances!) before completing the Legal Practice Course part-time whilst working at Canon Europe as a Legal Assistant. Upon qualification as a solicitor Emma worked in private practice as a corporate lawyer before joining an in-house legal team.

Not content with all the above, Emma taught herself website design in her free time and launched her own baby development website last year. She now has primary responsibility for the design of the Dorothy & Theodore website.

Emma wrote the website and we pressed the ‘on’ switch on 15 September 2011 – just one week before Sally gave birth and 5 weeks after Emma had. We officially launched Dorothy & Theodore at the Earls Court Baby Show at the end of October. Since then we have increased the number of sellers we represent, and visits to the site are consistently on the up. We are now focusing on marketing to try and get our name out there and hope that our upcoming marketing campaign and features will start to put us on the map.

We funded the business out of our personal savings but are very hopeful that these finds will merely be a loan to the business and we will be able to pay ourselves back one day! Currently, every penny that the business makes is ploughed back into it and we anticipate this to be the case for some time to come!

Our children are our real source of motivation. We hope that Dorothy & Theodore will eventually enable us to work around the school day to enable us to spend as much time with them as possible. We are also determined to show our children that anything is possible if you really put your mind to it, and of course, we simply want to make them proud.

We hope that Dorothy & Theodore will become a market leader in the e-commerce industry and will gain a reputation for not only the quality and style of the products we represent but also our conduct as a company in terms of both business and customer relations.

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  1. Elaine
    January 24, 2012 / 11:12 am

    Good luck

  2. January 24, 2012 / 3:45 pm

    That is true,Joanne. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said, “In terms of our backgrounds, after college, I undertook a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies which included a scholarship at the University of South Florida”. I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to read more from you!