She has a great passion for creativity, travelling, and ethical living. She’s a business woman helping others achieve their dreams. She has a strong love for the fashion industry and she’s only 26 years of age! The Love Anyway Project is thrilled to be collaborating with and interview Sian Conway, mentor to young entrepreneurs in the UK, Co-Founder of Little Lotus Boutique and Founder of #EthicalHour.
In 2015 Sian and her Mum (the other Co-Founder of Little Lotus Boutique) traveled to Cambodia and met women who created beautiful dresses, scarves and garments by performing the highly skilled art of weaving silk on looms. As the women patiently taught Sian and her Mum the art, they shared how they built their business in order to support their families and send their children to school. Many of the families in Cambodia were victims of the Pol Pot Regime and so they wanted to create a better life and provide a future for their children.
I was so inspired to see how they have come through such unimaginable pain, and how they are working to create a better life for their families and I wanted to help. I knew that the beautiful garments would sell well in the UK and thought they should be shared with the world, so I used social media to build a relationship with a co-operative organisation who now help me work with the artisans to import dresses and scarves. We sell them online and also do a lot of blogging about sustainable fashion and ethical issues in the fashion industry. If we can change people’s attitudes and raise awareness then we can ensure better working conditions for people in the industry all around the world. I think that’s really important.
Her time in Cambodia stayed dear to her heart which ignited her dream to begin Little Lotus Boutique, an online fashion boutique and blog. Little Lotus Boutique support artisans in rural Cambodia who make beautiful, unique items by hand. They are true believers of people over profit. They operate under Fair Trade principles to ensure fair wages are being paid and given support to build their businesses, and import their silk dresses and scarves to sell in the UK and online. Along with the online fashion boutique, Sian does blogging and campaigns for change in the fashion industry, raising awareness of ethical issues, and building a community around the world for positive change.
Their skills should be celebrated! We also believe that the exploitation that happens in the mainstream fashion industry is unacceptable – for us people are more important than profit. I want to be able to wear something beautiful that also has a beautiful story behind it. I want to know who made my clothes, and that they did so in safe working conditions and were paid a fair wage.
The life of an entrepreneur is never easy. It takes a lot of heart and guts to keep the drive going day and night. Take it from the Mother-Daughter dream team!
Sian does about anything and everything. She is responsible for all their social media and marketing efforts, the creative behind the blog and ensures they stay connected to bloggers of the same industry. The newest skill she brings to her business is coding, “the language of the future”. She didn’t let the big task of coding scare her and now she has so much creative freedom building her website. In addition, she takes care of the finances and helps her Mum choose the garments for their boutique. Sian’s Mum looks after a lot of the customer care, day to day organization and managing the stock.
Keeping a personal and business relationship with her Mum is all about professionalism!
It’s really important to set proper boundaries – no business talk at the dinner table. We schedule proper business meetings when we want to discuss anything and when it comes to money we keep things professional, put things in writing, and treat it like you would any other business partner. So far it’s worked well for us!
But it doesn’t stop there. Finding continuous motivation and juggling between the business and full-time jobs are all part of their daily challenges. Living in different towns, they’ve learned it’s about prioritizing their time to speak and talk about their plans for the business, staying focused on the end goal and supporting each other through it all.
They are true believers of taking chances. Along with the start of their business, Sian was still paying back her student loans and learning new skills to enhance their business such as math and finance felt overwhelming. The worries of starting a business with limited money and skills created fear and hesitation.
She always knew she wanted take her laptop and run a business from anywhere in the world and like many with a burning passion inside of them, Sian didn’t let that become an excuse.
She began using the internet as her most important tool. Reading business blogs, taking free online courses and connecting with local people to share advices gave her the push she needed. Sian pays great appreciation for her friends and family for their unconditional support.
She has learned when frustrations arise, she reminds herself of the many people she’s helping doing the things she loves most, and keeps note of the how far she’s come along from the very beginning.
Failure is not a fear to them but a lesson learned.
I think it’s really important to not be scared of failure. When we initially invested money into the business we worried about it not working, but that’s not really an option. It’s given us the determination to make it work! Of course not everything is going to work out all the time, but you learn something every time. The first time I sent out a press release I forgot to attach it to the email. Needless to say, the newspaper didn’t run the story because I looked totally amateur – and my day job is in marketing so I should know better! You can either beat yourself up and feel sad that it didn’t work, or you can dust yourself off and try again. Take the lessons with you but leave the negativity behind.
The proudest lesson was setting up a twitter account and reaching out to her connections through Little Lotus Boutique to start #EthicalHour. Nervous to begin, she opened her twitter account and it just started going wild. Suffice to say the response was really positive – connections and discussions of working together were forming instantly! From an idea in her head to reaching over 140,000 people all over the world, to getting involved with well known brands and household names in the first night was the most incredible experience for Sian.
With a promising future ahead, Sian shares:
If there’s something you want to change or achieve then go for it! Don’t be put off if you think you haven’t got the right skills or experience. As long as you’ve got the passion, you’ll make it happen somehow. Reach out to others and don’t be put off if something doesn’t work or someone knocks you back. You’ll be amazed how many opportunities you find when you start looking for them and what incredible things happen when you follow your passion. My ultimate motto that keeps me going is “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” – It’s a bit of a cliche but if your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough. Have a big dream and be passionate about it, but take it one step at a time and you’ll be amazed at where it gets you. (Obviously don’t actually eat an elephant though!)
The Love Anyway Project recognizes Sian Conway and her Mum for the incredible love they share and we are more than excited to see what the future will enfold!
Thank you for living passionately and sticking with your values,
Thank you for the resilience to keep persevering,
Thank you for continuously choosing to Love Anyway!
Join Sian on Twitter every Monday from 8 pm to 9 pm GMT for #EthicalHour.
Read the How to Live More Ethically Blog Post.
Shop the Cambodian fashion scarves at: