“Don’t compare yourself to others, be inspired by others but don’t compare.”
When you run your own business alongside raising your brood, there can be many times where you feel guilty for ‘neglecting’ your children. We’ve all had to put another film on or give them extra time on their iPads to continue working. The anxiety and guilt from doing so can be quite overwhelming. When you’re working you feel like you should be with the kids, and when you’re with the kids, you feel like you should be working! It can be a never-ending cycle of feeling like you are failing in some way, every day. But what if your hard work and juggling everything was inspiring your children? What if instead of focusing on things we haven’t managed to do as parents, we focus on the things we have done? What if we are paving the way for showing our children that they can be or do whatever they want? That their dreams are achievable. This is exactly what happened with the entrepreneurial power couple – Oliver Dunn – better known as ‘Oli the Choc’ and his wife Kim Minchin Dunn, of Kim Minchin Lifestyle. Both Oli and Kim grew up watching their parents chase their dreams. Their memories of their childhood around their parents growing their business are fond ones, and it gives food for thought that maybe we need to stop being so hard on ourselves.
Oli and Kim have been climbing the ladder success for some years now, both building well respected businesses and personal brands. Oli is a real-life Willy Wonka, inspired by his own chocolatier father – Simon Dunn. Oli is a regular on Steph’s Packed Lunch and has also appeared on Blue Peter donning his incredible chocolate skills – fulfilling a lifelong dream to appear on the show. Kim started off her entrepreneurial journey through launching her own successful jewellery range – worn by many celebrities. Kim has also entered the world of interiors in the last few years, a natural progression as those following Kim will know that she has incredible style. The couple welcomed their first child Romy-Star last year and we sat down with them to see how different business life is now that they are juggling a baby too. And do they hope to inspire Romy just as their parents inspired them…
Kim, Oli Dunn and their daughter Romy Star © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
Oli The Choc, Kim Minchin & their daughter Romi. IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
How different is it running a business as parents, compared to before Romy’s arrival?
Kim – “Very different!”
Oli – “It takes a lot more planning obviously, but in a way, it helps you to stop procrastinating.
Kim – “When you don’t have her, you can literally get so much done! It makes you think what you did with your time before! So it’s just about utilising the time you do get productively. Also it helps that my store is next to Oli’s and Oli’s parents’ shop.”
Oli – “Yes, we’re altogether so we’ve got a little bit of help.”
Kim – “She’s got her highchair and duplicates of her things at the store so that works well. But there’s no formula.”
Oli – “No we’re just winging it and hoping for the best! We take each day at a time. We’ll work in the evenings if we have to and just do whatever we need to do to get things done!”
Kim – “I think overall we’re more efficient. Like, before having Romy, I would sit at home, have a cup of coffee and probably scroll through Instagram for an hour whereas now when she has nap I’m like, ‘Right, quick, what can I get done!’.”
What has been the hardest or funniest moment that you’ve experienced as Parentpreneurs?
Oli – “Well a big part of my business is creating content and videos and this one day, I went out on my one wheel which is like an electric skateboard kind of thing, and I was making videos down my by the canal and Kim was at the shop with Romy. And I had kind of got lost in this creative flow and when I stopped, I had all these messages off Kim saying can you get back quick, I’ve got a shop full of customers and Romy will not stop screaming!”
Kim – “Awww, yes, I was so embarrassed and stressed. Although everyone was great with her and saying ‘Ah we’ve seen her on Instagram so it’s great to meet her.’ But I just felt like I wasn’t giving them the shopping experience that they were probably after. But they have been back so it obviously can’t have been that bad.”
Both of your parents are entrepreneurs too. How much has watching them inspired you both within your business ventures?
Oli – “I saw how my dad created something out of nothing, purely out of something that interested him – and that was making chocolate. He had worked in sweet factory and making sweets can take weeks sometimes, whereas chocolate you can make quite quickly. And he went on this course in Germany to learn how to make chocolate and he just fell in love with it. So I saw that passion in him and I wanted to create something myself out of nothing so I took the slightly different direction of entertaining people with chocolate – showing them how to create chocolate themselves.
Kim – “You always talk about being a child, being with your sister whilst your mum and dad were making chocolate at home. I think that inspired you to carry on that magic, of having a business yourself. So, you can be at home, and you can bring your children into the world of your business.
“Yes, we used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night, into my mum and dads ‘chocolate factory”
Oli – “Yes, we used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night, into my mum and dads ‘chocolate factory’ and take a handful of chocolate buttons up to our bedrooms! That’s some of my best memories as a child being surrounded by chocolate, so I think it was inevitable that I would explore that. I think I resisted it at first as it seemed to obvious that I would go into the family business and then I think I realised that I could be missing out on something that could potentially be fun. That’s what I’m really for as my dad has given me this tool to be creative and have fun within your work. I have got a lot of motivation from my parents. If Romy can find something that is her passion too then I’ll be happy. We used to sit watching movies at Christmas so that they could get on with the orders. They made the office next door really cosy, and they could watch us through a clear glass window. They would actually even give us a few Christmas presents early so that they could get work done, but as much as they probably felt stressed at the time, they are really good memories for me and my sister.”
Kim – “It has helped with mindset of knowing that you can have a child and still do what you want to do. So, it wasn’t a scary daunting prospect for us. My parents had their own business too, so they had a massive influence on me as a businesswoman. My Dad had 136 branches of his business, he was and still is an amazing businessman and he has always guided me and my brother, any doubt’s I ever have always reached out to him. Parents have always shown me that you can follow you dreams and that you get out you put in. So, for me growing up I always wanted to have my own business, I didn’t want to work for anyone else. And my mum has the most amazing taste so that has definitely helped me from an artistic point of view when I’m designing my jewellery and picking homeware etc.”
You both have strong identities -individually and as a couple; How do you feel your identity’s have changed since becoming parents?
Kim – “Well, I kind of felt like I lost my identity a little bit when I had Romy. I feel like I’m a gradually getting it back, but I do feel like that is a really tough thing for mums. You get so absorbed and consumed with the baby, as your whole life is about them. But, when you’re tired and you’re trying to juggle everything and keep everyone alive, but I think there is an internal thing for mums that the dads may or may not understand. But I remember she was only a few weeks old and I said to Ol, ‘Can you just have her for an hour? I wanna go to home sense – on my own.”
Oli – “Yeah, and you had like the best hour!”
Kim – “Yeah, I didn’t need anything, but that was my regular routine.”
Oli – “Yes, you needed that, to feel that freedom and step into your creativity. So I guess that’s what we need to be mindful of, making sure you get that time to keep your identity. I think that has been your driving force in opening the store.”
Kim – “Yes, the opportunity came along, and I thought, ‘Yes, it’s the right time’ As we said earlier Oli’s place is there and his parent’s shop is there, and I can pick and choose the days that I want to do there. And having the shop has made me fall in love with fashion again, as I’m getting dressed for work and doing little videos whilst I’m there. So instead of constantly wearing my activewear and not having any make up on. Now I’m thinking about buying clothes again and that was something I had stopped doing after Romy was born. So, yeah, I do think that is something that people need to talk about more. And with the fashion side of things, I try and buy things that a practical but then other times I think – I want that Jacket etc, because I know I’m a mum, but I still want to be me.”
Oli – “For me Romy has changed my identity in that now I’ve become a father and a husband. She’s made us a family. People say, ‘Welcome to the best club in the world.’ And you really do feel a part of that and a way that strengthens your identity a bit, as everything you do has more meaning and in way that makes you feel more confident really.”
Kim – “I think we’re such a good team though and we have a strong network of people around us so that is something that can help you when you’re having those low moments, Oli was always there so I think that helps remind you of who you are and your strengths.”
And finally what advice would you give fellow Parentpreneurs?
Oli – “I would say embrace the challenges that it brings, because it helps you to grow as an individual, you don’t always realise that how much it can you to evolve. And rewards far outweigh the challenges. You will more than likely surprise yourself, nature is a wonderful thing and a lot of it is more intuitive than you think.”
Kim – “I think mine is to just enjoy the journey and keep telling yourself that you are amazing at what you are doing. I’ve learnt to be a bit more relaxed and stop comparing yourself and then you can think clearer.”
Oli – “Yes, that’s a big thing for anyone, be inspired by others but don’t compare yourself. Just be good at being you.”
Written by Lolo Stubbs
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD
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