Pawprint Badges was founded in 2016 to provide fun, collectible, embroidered badges for all occasions and takes the strain off programme planning with 1000s of free activity ideas and resources. The embroidered badges include national landmarks, licenced collaborations, sports, animals, and more, all encouraging creativity, exploration, and expression in children of all ages. It was founded by Charlotte and Jamie Russell who have a firm belief in #AdventureForAll. They met back in 2015 in the shop at Gilwell Park (home of Scouting) looking at badges and the rest, as they say, is history. We spoke to Charlotte to find out more.
Tell Me A Little About The History Of The Business?
My husband and I are the founders of Pawprint Family, and we launched the business using our years of experience in education, Scouts, and Girlguides. With a passion for adventure and a desire to share that passion with younger generations, Pawprint Family was founded.
Joining the Pawprint brand in 2020, Pawprint Trails and Pawprint Tales go hand in hand to provide a fun and informative way to discover the people, places and history of the UK.
With treasure-hunts to get you out and about, free activity ideas, and a story to tell alongside each location, you can explore the sights and cities for real or enjoy them from the comfort of your own home.
Thirdly, a percentage of profits from every sale goes in to the Pawprint Trust to provide grants for young people, helping them experience life changing adventures.
What Are Your First Memories Of The Family Business?
Having launched in 2016, Jamie and I are the first generation of Pawprint owners. Coming from a Guiding background, we launched the first 5 badges to existing fans who had previously purchased badges in support of my Ranger unit. From there, we have grown as a business and a family with our 2 daughters being raised in the office from 2 weeks, one in 2020 and the other just recently joining the family in August!
Are There Any Other Family Members Working In The Business?
The business is run by myself and my husband, Jamie, with the support of our parents who help with childcare and event support when necessary, enabling us to run the business and build on our success.
The business hasn’t always been in my life, but it’s built on passions that have been with me since childhood. I started Girlguiding as a Rainbow at age 5 and growing up it, was a key part of my life! With the support of our Girlguides and our families, we were able to adventure, explore, and learn - and that’s what we want to provide to young people across the country with Pawprint Family.
What Was Your Journey Into The Business And What Do You Do Now?
When we started our Pawprint journey, I was very hands on. My daily life involved designing, writing activity packs, and producing everything customer facing. Thanks to the growth of the company and our bigger team, I’ve been able to put more time into the business side of things with a particular focus on sales and marketing.
What Values Are Important To The Family And The Business?
The entire focus of the business is built on our key value: ensuring adventure is accessible for all. Whether that’s through providing cheap activity learning packs or through the grants we’re able to provide with Pawprint Trust, we want to support young people’s drive for adventure.
On top of this, we value community as a family and business unit, but also as a network of customers who are all as passionate as we are about allowing children to learn and explore.
Finally, quality and value for money are key to our business. We aim to exceed expectations with the service we provide and give our customers activity packs and badges that will stand the test of time.
Do You Build The Family Ownership Into The Marketing And Brand Narrative?
Yes, mine and Jamie’s story is key to the business’ USP so we make sure to always represent the brand at events.
We also still personally handle the social media channels to try and give customers authentic insight into business whilst keeping fun and adventure at the heart of everything we do.
What Do You Think Makes Working In A Family Business Special?
Working with Jamie is brilliant because we work well as a team and our skills very much compliment each other – something that definitely translates from the teamwork and understanding required of family units. Being a family business means we treat our employees as an extension of our family and we try to bring our values of honesty, integrity and trust into the business, treating others as we would like to be treated to make a happier, healthier work environment.
Are There Any Disadvantages Associated With Working In A Family Business?
Outside of the workplace, being a family business means it’s sometimes difficult to separate work and home. However, having 2 small people to take your time and attention makes this a little easier!
Inside of Pawprint, we did employ a close family member for a short time but, sadly, it didn’t work out for a number of reasons. Personal connections are especially important when running a family business and maintaining these is crucial for the growth of the business and preservation of our personal relationships.
Have You Taken Any Particular Steps In Terms Of Governance To Help Protect The Business For The Future?
Following investment in the business by close family and friends, we took steps to protect the inheritance of the shares to protect the business for future generations.
Is There A Next Generation In The Wings?
We have 2 daughters, Little Pawprint (3) and Baby Pawprint (1.5 months), and they are both very much in and around the business!
We hope one day they will both enjoy working together in the business but that they’ll have the opportunity to grow and develop through a variety of roles first.
What Advice Would You Give To Anyone In The Next Generation Considering Joining Their Family Firm?
Running a family business is often incredibly fulfilling and a true pleasure, but anyone considering joining a family firm should be clear on the expectations and responsibilities and be prepared to accept responsibility if things go wrong.
It’s also important that you don’t take things for granted. Other people have worked hard to establish the business and it is your duty and responsibility to protect that and build on it for the future!
If You Could Talk To Your Younger Self Before You Started The Business, What Would You Say?
Keep striving. When we started we never envisaged we’d be here now. Some days the thought of working full time for the business felt like a pipe dream, but we worked hard at it and we’re in a place we wouldn’t have dreamed of when we launched Pawprint.
You should also be prepared to adapt and change, take new opportunities but also be prepared to say no occasionally to protect what you have built and what you’re working towards.
If You Could Sum Up The Family Business In Three Words, What Would They Be?
Adventure for all.