Business Name: Miles & Mia Limited
Support received: Start Up Loan
Miles & Mia Limited publishes children’s books. The brainchild of Michaela Alexander and her two children, Miles and Mia, the first book ‘A to Z’ teaches children different letters of the alphabet in a fun way, with rhyming text and original illustrations sure to delight children of all ages, as well as their parents. Michaela successfully applied for a Start Up Loan to cover the costs of getting the book printed and published.
We spoke to Michaela about starting her own business and the difference the Start Up Loan has made.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I am a single parent and my two children have been the inspiration for the business. I decided to create the book after they asked me one day why there was not many books with children like them.
There is a lack of diversity in the children’s current book market. The idea for the book came from my children and follows their colourful adventures. Miles & Mia is a book made by real life children for children.
Is it easier or harder than you expected?
It’s exactly as I expected. Like with anything in life without money everything is much harder and slower, but I am happy with what I have achieved so far for the business and its very rewarding seeing my vision come to life. Miles & Mia was stocked online at Waterstones.com within the month of launching!
The hardest challenge for me has been trying to get into mainstream stores and I am learning that things take time.
Have you faced and any unexpected problems starting up?
Copycats. I have already experienced many people on social media copy my book idea and strategies. One company in USA went as far as copying the name until I sent them a legal letter as I own all the copyright, so they removed it but I had to pay lawyer costs. Although this is very annoying I remind myself that no one can copy my vision and see copying as a sign that I doing something great!
How important is the business advice you received from London Small Business Centre?
Without the help and support of Jeff Gilbert and the London Small Business Centre, I would not have been able to turn my dream into a reality.
I had already begun researching and working on my business plan for six months, before being assigned Jeff as my Business Advisor in 2015. Prior to starting the business I had a successful career in the nightlife and entertainment industry. Although my event management and operations background and skills in PR and marketing has proven very useful, I also wanted some extra guidance in the form of a mentor as the publishing industry was new to me.
I quickly built up a rapport with Jeff and left every one of our 1–to-1 sessions feeling inspired and confident on reaching my goals for the business. It was also really motivating to know that someone with Jeff’s professional business background and experience believed in my vision from the very beginning.
When I needed legal advice and help with contracts and copyright law, Jeff introduced me to various contacts in the legal sector helping me quickly overcome these challenges. He was also the first person to suggest I self-publish, which was the best long-term business decision I could make.