Ascot Vale mum Helle Warming is the founder of Lucas Loves Cars, a gorgeous online store for parents who love quality and have children obsessed with cars, trucks, trains and all things with wheels. Helle drew inspiration from her own son who received a number of car-themed presents for his first birthday and has been car obsessed ever since! Lucas Loves Cars also stocks a stylish range of gifts and toys including puzzles, play mats, hats, cutlery, night lights, books, bath toys and much more.
What were you doing before you started your own business?
Before I started Lucas loves cars I was working in a high rise building in the city. I enjoyed my job as a business analyst, and I honestly miss the people that I worked with. I had worked at the same place for 10 years. I remember before Lucas was born I would go to work at 8.30 and leave at 6.30. Some times heading out to dinner and doing my grocery shopping on the way home at 10pm. It was so hard to work part time after maternity leave, I felt like I wasn’t putting in enough effort at work, and I was missing out on things with Lucas too, always rushing to get to pick-up on time.
How did Lucas Loves Cars evolve and how did the name come about?
Would it surprise you that I have a son called Lucas? Every day he has different ‘special cars’ that he plays with, and even his favourite bed time reading is books with cars in them. At first I thought that my little boy was unique in this regard, but everyone keeps saying “It’s a boy thing”. What I couldn’t understand though, was that if all boys love cars, why are they so hard to find, particularly good quality wooden ones? The cars and trucks that are kept long after the little boy has grown up. It was also really hard to find ones that weren’t about TV shows or movies. I couldn’t understand why there were no websites dedicated to boys! Surely I wasn’t the only mum wanting quality, beautifully designed toys? So of course I have created the store that I was looking for and Lucas Loves Cars was born.
For mamas yet to discover your business, what can they expect?
When you visit Lucas loves cars you become surrounded in colour and beauty. I imagine it as an old fashioned toy store with the convenience of visiting it on your couch. We concentrate on finding and stocking stylish toys that look good on the coffee table (because that is usually where they end up!) We have a wide range of toys and gifts, from dinosaur bath toys to wooden dump trucks.
What do you like most about what you do?
There’s nothing worse than waiting for a delivery and then being disappointed when you open the box. I love to imagine the Mums and the kids receiving the parcels we send. We pack each order with love because we think opening an online order should be like Christmas.
How do you balance the work with your family?
I try to make sure I give my focus to where I am. When Lucas was little I would play with him for an hour and then ask him to play by himself for a little while so I could do Mummy things. When we played nothing else existed – it was just us and the fun we were having. Now that he is older and I am busier I have to actively remind myself how well that works. Oh and making big meals that I can freeze!
What have been your biggest highlights since starting your own business?
I get excited when I see we are growing, sometimes they are little moments in the journey. My first personal photo shoot was a highlight, and our first celebrity mention on Instagram. We recently moved into a warehouse; that was a big highlight. It was a big step as it made the business feel larger. Giving our little car business a ‘garage’ has been a definite highlight.
What key advice do you have for other aspiring business mums?
I usually tell people I wish I had learned to network earlier. Not just meeting people but you have to do the right networking. No point meeting 60 accountants when you’re selling toy cars. Recently my advice is that being a business owner you don’t switch off at the end of a work day, it’s a full time job and then some. But it is important to have other interests so you recharge. A little like motherhood.
Are there any key developments or products in the pipeline that you can share with us?
I have a little dream that I have been working on this year. It’s top secret so I don’t want to share the details, but when it happens I think it will make a big difference. I can tell you that we are part of The Little Pop Up Shop and have a new Birthday Club happening. And I am busy finding beautiful products, which I’m always excited to share with everyone.
And finally, where can we find you?