Business Name:  Miles & Mia Limited

Support received:  Start Up Loan

Location:  London

Website:  https://milesandmia.com/


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.

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“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.”

Was it difficult to apply for a loan?

No, it was straight forward. The whole process from the initially registration to receiving the loan was very quick and took just a few months.

I initially used my own savings to get started but then I had reached a point where I needed financial support to take things to the next level and assist with the larger start-up costs such as book printing, illustration and website development. That’s when I applied for a Start Up Loan.

The loan just covered the costs to get the first book printed and published and I always knew I had no reserves left over.  I have been lucky that every month since launching I have made enough sales via the website to cover my business loan but I do have to monitor cash flow closely.

What are your future plans?

This is just the start of my journey as an author and I am extremely proud of the book I have created and have already started penning the follow up book. I will also be attending Frankfurt Book Fair in October to network and distribute copies of the book to publishers in the hope of securing a deal with a big publisher in the UK or internationally.

The long-term business goal is to have a series of books, toys and merchandise and work with a production company to turn the books into animation for TV.
I also regularly receive emails and messages from happy customers from the UK and across the globe thanking me for creating the book. When parents say that their children can relate to the characters in the book it’s a great feeling. Most importantly it has taught my children, Miles and Mia that anything is possible if you work hard and dream big!

Images: Copyright Miles & Mia Limited

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