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June 28, 2019
This month on “Behind the Biz, we have the pleasure in chatting to Chloe Johnson aka ‘’Little Koha” Studio Milk supplies candles and melts to Chloe, who in turn makes the most luxurious gift boxes! Welcome Chloe and thank you for taking the time to chat to us.
Tell us a little bit about your business
Little Koha is a premium online gifting studio that designs modern gift boxes for all of life’s special occasions, specialising in corporate and real estate gifts. We are a family business based in beautiful Hawke’s Bay. It’s just me working in the business (Chief of Everything), but I have a support team, a VA and gift box curators, who I call on during busy periods like Mother’s Day, Christmas and with corporate projects.
What was the inspiration that led to you starting out and how did you pick your business name?
Little Koha began after an inspiring conversation with a cousin who owns a successful online beauty store, BeautyBliss.co.nz. Her story - and my interest in ecommerce - motivated me to stop thinking about business ideas (which I did a lot) and just start doing.
The idea of putting a modern spin on traditional gift boxes just popped into my head one day. It felt like gratitude was becoming a thing of the past in this busy world we live in, and I wanted to make it simple for people to stay connected with gorgeous gifts that are a little bit different to what’s already available.
My partner actually came up with the name Little Koha, so I can’t take the credit for that! Koha means gift in Maori, so it is a little nod to our roots.
What did you do before Little Koha?
Before? I’m still doing it :) I’m the Communications and Marketing Manager at a leading girls school in Hawke’s Bay. That is my full-time role, so I’m often working on Little Koha late into the night and during the weekends, but I absolutely love it so it doesn’t feel like work.
Has the journey so far been as you expected it to be, have you experienced any ‘surprises’ or ah ha moments along the way?
When I launched Little Koha, my focus was on homeware gifts. My original idea was to create gift boxes filled with homeware items only (no food or alcohol). I was so excited by this unique concept, but quickly learned that my customers wanted a combination of homewares and gourmet treats. About six months in, I decided to let go of my original idea and introduce food items to meet my customers’ demands. A year later, I introduced alcohol and had my best year in business. My ‘ah ha’ moment was that it is totally okay to screw up your business plan and let your customers guide you.
I don’t have expectations now, only goals.
If you could start over, what’s the one thing you would do differently?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and there have been plenty of learnings along the way, but I wouldn’t do anything differently because the Little Koha journey, with all of its trials and tribulations, has allowed me to grow a successful business and develop as a person.
What aspect of your business gives you the most joy and what motivates you to continue?
Being connected is a precious and powerful human need, and I get so much joy out of helping loved ones, friends, clients and colleagues connect.
Our gifts bring people together during life’s special occasions, even when they can’t physically be together because they live in different cities or countries, and that’s what motivates us to continue.
One of the things I love most is writing people’s messages on our (free) gift cards. Some are mysterious, others are humorous, thoughtful, emotional or exciting. Sometimes, I feel like I’m in the moment with them! All of the messages are reminders that people are building relationships through our gift boxes and that’s pretty special.
How do you manage the work/life juggle and what do you like to do ‘after hours’?
Working full time, running an online business and being a mum to a busy 1-year-old certainly makes life interesting. I manage the juggle by being extremely organised and staying future-focused - I’m always thinking and planning ahead. I also have an extremely supportive partner, aptly named Mr Koha, who cooks, cleans and contributes to gift box ideas (what a guy, right!?)
What one piece of advice would you give someone looking to start out in business.
Stop thinking about it and start doing it. Yes, market research, business plans and knowing your numbers are important but so is taking action.
Thank you so much Chloe, you are so inspiring and so motivating. Little Koha is such a beautiful extension of who are and I’m so pleased we met, even if it was in an online only world space - Kim
You can find all of Chloe’s gorgeous gift boxes over at www.littlekoha.co.nz
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Kim & Team MiLK xx