Luna & Curious is a lifestyle store based in London, UK. It was founded in 2006 by Polly George, Kaoru Parry and Rheanna Lingham. Polly lives in London with her husband Geoff, and their 8-year-old daughter, Mabel. Kaoru lives in London with her husband Adam, and their 17-month-old son, Ozzy. Rheanna lives in Kent with her husband James. They are currently expecting their first child.

On setting up a business… Together we run Luna & Curious, a small independent store based in East London. It was founded out of need really. The three of us were all working as designers and needed an outlet for our products so we formed a collaborative and opened Luna & Curious. Since our humble beginnings on Brick Lane things have gone from strength to strength and today, ten years on, we have a store in Calvert Avenue where we sell about 50 different designers’ work including womenswear, childrenswear, jewellery, homeware, toys and accessories.

On working together… It’s fantastic working together, strength is definitely in numbers, we all agree we would have gone stir crazy if any of us had tried to run things on our own. You need partners to keep you going, bounce ideas off and inspire each other. Of course you never know whether business partners have the right chemistry when you’re starting out, it’s a gamble for sure, but we are a great team and also great friends.

It’s fantastic working together. Strength is definitely in numbers. We all agree that we’d have gone stir crazy if any of us had tried to run things on our own

We all come from big families – Polly and Rheanna come from three children families and Kaoru from four – so us all growing up with brothers and sisters has taught us patience, helped us not to squabble and also taught us to let things go easily. In the early days of the businesses we were all  involved in every process, but over time we naturally slipped into different roles based on our individual strengths. The good thing is that we trust each other’s taste entirely, and if all else fails democracy rules: two against one.

The pluses and minuses… One of the best things about running a business together is confident decision making. When three people agree on something it is much more likely to move forward. Another plus is that because there are three of us we can share the days that need to be worked in the shop between us, which then allows us all to run our own businesses alongside Luna & Curious, or do other work, or look after our respective children. Adversely working together in a business you are less likely to make decisions on a whim. In addition our business needs to support three people, not just one, which is why, really, we all need to maintain additional income streams. But Luna & Curious has grown on considered financial choices, our motto has always been slow and steady wins the race.

Polly, Rheanna and Kaoru outside their shop, Luna & Curious

Polly’s Perspective

On a personal level juggling work is manageable as I have a very helpful husband, great work colleagues and amazing parents, so there is no need for childcare. Our working week in the shop allows me to have three days working on my own personal business. These days are short, dashing to my studio in Kent in-between dropping Mabel off at school and racing back to pick her up at 3.30pm, but the time spent being creative is very satisfying. 

I would describe my average day as manic. Geoff or myself will walk Mabel to school, and then I go straight up to the shop. The three of us work Mondays and Wednesdays together. We meet at 10am, an hour before the shop opens, to discuss what we need to achieve in our day. Jobs are split according to our capabilities which always works well, these could include ordering stock, (Rheanna) designing new window displays (me) or planning gift guides for press (Kaoru).

One day to the next is never the same and we rarely close dead on 6pm as advertised. We always welcome late customers, and then after hours the work also continues with emails needing to be sent and so on. I leave the shop at around 7pm by which point Mabel has either been picked up by my husband, or she is at a friends house playing. Mabel will probably play for a couple of hours with the kids on the estate and then its off to bed. Job done.

Over the years I’ve learnt not to stress or worry too much about things. And having two work colleagues to have a good banter with, and a general laugh with, definitely lightens the load. My husband is also my rock, always to the rescue if a disaster should arise. I’ve learnt that you can’t do everything, but what you can do, you must enjoy. I’ve also learnt to adapt – a day can change quite quickly, so rigid plans just can’t work.

Mabel, now 8-years-old, has literally grown up in the shop and again I am so grateful to Kaoru and Rheanna for being so supportive of me. Really, work is an extension of our family and everyday is a joy, I don’t know how many people are lucky enough to say that.

Polly and Kaoru at Rheanna's wedding

Kaoru’s Perspective

Polly and Rheanna are amazing to work with. We all share the same work ethic and life values which make us quite flexible with our approach to work. Running a business with them means that I’ve been very fortunate in having had the opportunity to choose and manage my work-life balance. I know not everyone can do that.

Our son Ozzy is only 17-months-old so having a routine is useful for me, as well as for Ozzy, as it means I can organise my workload and childcare, but it’s something that’s happened quite naturally. We’re really lucky to have my parents living nearby so they help with childcare two days a week whilst I’m at work. I also then work at lunchtime whilst Ozzy’s asleep, and some evenings.

In the mornings our household is all about sitting and having breakfast together. It’s a really special time for us as my husband, Adam, often doesn’t get home in the evenings in time for bath time so we make sure the boys have as much time together as possible in the morning. If I’m with Ozzy then after breakfast we go out to a playgroup or park. 

After lunch Ozzy snoozes for a couple of hours whilst I quickly do some work on my laptop and then in the afternoon we’re out again. Dinner is around 5pm and again we sit together, even if it’s just Ozzy and I. Mealtimes have always been important to me, it was a big part of my upbringing, and I want to instil that into Ozzy’s routine too. Then it’s bath and bed at around 7pm. 

My key to overcoming stress is laughter. You have to learn to let go, and relax. I find that the more I relax about something the easier it becomes. And of course since becoming a mum the biggest thing I have learnt is to smile and laugh a lot. It really is contagious.

Polly with Kaoru's son, Ozzy

Rheanna’s Perspective

As I am yet to become a mother we are still living in the world of ‘no fixed routine’. I (reluctantly) began my maternity leave this summer mainly because I drive to work and that is the most gruelling part of the day (from Kent into London). If it wasn’t so far I would have liked to have kept on going a bit longer.

My rough plan is to have a couple of months off when the baby is born, and then return to work a couple of days a week, as well as working from home if need be. This is all very loose as it depends on the baby. Of course I’m very lucky as I can take the baby to the shop with me if I’m feeding so can be flexible. The longer-term plan is for my husband, James, to have the baby one day a week, and my parents on another. I have had great role models in Polly and Kaoru and know that they will be incredibly supportive in making things work for all of us.

As well as working at Luna & Curious, I also work as a curator of One Year On at New Designers. For many years I designed and made my own jewellery too, as well as working as a teacher in further education. However I have put these avenues of work to bed temporarily as I want to focus on Luna & Curious.

For me work and life are one and the same. I cannot disconnect myself from my work; it is a part of me. At the beginning, when you first set up a business, it can be very time consuming, but as things settle down, you can manage more leisure time. The three of us have got much better at leaving the shop at a decent time, and while there is always something to do, knowing which tasks can wait until tomorrow, and leaving them until then, is an absolute must.

Kaoru, Polly and Rheanna

To find out more check out Luna & Curious

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