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Meet Nicole Frazer, the Entrepreneur Behind Yorkshire Baby Shop, Leo & Lil

Meet Nicole Frazer, the Entrepreneur Behind Yorkshire Baby Shop, Leo & Lil
June 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

Since 2022 Leo & Lil has been building momentum as the place to shop for babies and toddlers in Yorkshire

Founder Nicole Frazer tells us about her journey to becoming a full-time entrepreneur.

Some people give the impression that entrepreneurship is something they stumbled into. Nicole Frazer is not one of those people. ‘I always had side hustles,’ she says. Originally hailing from Brisbane Australia, she moved to Yorkshire in 2016 and previously worked as a youth worker and then at a boarding school. However, her nine to five was never the full story.

Her initial forays into business took the form of selling homemade cookies and then, in lockdown, she created vegan pamper packages that could be sent by post. The success she experienced with these ventures got her thinking about running a business full time, but the idea for Leo & Lil came later. 

‘I found out that I was expecting our little girl and I was trying to find local businesses that had suitable baby products for new parents; things that weren’t necessarily available on the high street,’ Nicole explains. ‘I couldn’t find them anywhere and that’s why Leo & Lil was born; so that I could work with small local brands to bring them to the area I live in’. The new business was named after the babies that inspired it; she has a nephew called Leo and her little girl was named Lily. ‘It’s a family business,’ she laughs.

There are a few criteria that she sticks to when deciding on products to sell on the website, and at their pop-up shops around the region. ‘We stock small UK brands that are practical for parents, helpful for new, exploring little ones, and that are affordable,’ she says. I ask how they approach sustainability, and she tells me that although they think it’s important, and do have sustainable products, safety takes precedent when you are catering to small children (who are prone to putting things in their mouths).

The real appeal of their products lies in their quality. ‘All our clothing is stretchy because babies grow so fast. I know it’s probably not good for my business, but I always recommend to families that they should resell their items or give it to a friend,’ Nicole says. ‘Our products are very special, they definitely last more than just one baby.’

Nicole initially underestimated the importance of networking with other entrepreneurs, but would tell anyone thinking about starting their own business to make it a priority. ‘If anyone’s going to champion you it’s another small business,’ she says.

Never one to do things by halves, in 2023 her dedication to connecting with other businesses resulted in The Yorkshire Baby Show, which will be running for the second time at the end of April this year. ‘I wanted a community of local businesses that were able to connect with local parents,’ she explains. ‘It’s an annual event we run to build that community, to give parents information from local businesses, experts, midwives, doulas. [There are] other small businesses in the local area too and other practical brands.’

In many ways, The Yorkshire Baby Show sounds like as much of a chance for stallholders to meet each other as it is for them to talk to visitors. ‘It’s amazing once you get to know more small business owners, how many are parents have made that choice themselves,’ she says. ‘The conscious choice to have a business that they can run and manage and balance their family time.’

Nicole says that, although spending more time with her daughter was part of her motivation for taking the business full time, it’s not always easy to balance the two. ‘Some days that means that my little one comes to work with me and helps pack the orders and sometimes does a pop-up with me,’ she says. However, Nicole is always conscious of spending time with her family away from the business. ‘That’s always the biggest struggle and it’s always a real balancing act.’

She is hoping that her story can inspire other parents taking the leap into entrepreneurship, and has created an Instagram account @nicoleiswhere to document her journey. It’s a mixture of ‘motherhood, life, running a small business and my travels,’ she says.

It’s clear that Nicole is always on the move but, when it comes to Leo & Lil, she’s determined to stay put. ‘We can all have really big dreams, but for me the best thing is the local community and keeping it local. That’s where Leo & Lil is sitting nicely and that’s not a bad thing for business.’

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