Name: Josefa Buckland.

Age: 38.

What is your business called?

Graceful Changes.

Where is it based?


What services does it offer?

Graceful Changes offers an organic baby and toddler clothes rental service. Parents choose the clothes they want from our online inventory. Once their little one needs the next size up, or the season changes, parents request a new selection and when they have received that, simply return the outgrown clothes to us.

To whom does it sell?

Our subscribers are parents (mostly Mums) with a baby or toddler under four years old.

What is its turnover?

Around £40,000.

Due to the size and nature of our business we have been able to carry on operating as normal during the coronavirus crisis. However, I had my second child during lockdown, so we had to adapt to the changing situation in that respect!

The intention had been that my colleague would pack our orders, but because of lockdown I decided to do this myself. Luckily, I hadn’t planned to take a traditional maternity leave period!

How many employees?


When was it formed?

We launched in March 2019.

Why did you take the plunge?

I was first prompted to consider the concept of clothing rental for babies in a TEDx talk by Danish entrepreneur, Vigga Svensson. I found this interesting, but at that time I didn’t have any children and couldn’t relate on a personal level. Then I had my first child, and despite by best efforts, I remember when my daughter was about nine months packing up an entire car with baby-related charity shop donations.

I chose to use cloth nappies with my daughter, which are more bulky than disposables, and I realised that high street brand clothing often doesn’t fit well. This introduced me to smaller baby clothing companies that did beautiful organic clothing that was cut for cloth. This was great, but expensive and I didn’t have the time to buy and sell preloved. I searched for a rental option and found a family business in Somerset called Isla Inspired offering the service. I signed up for my daughter and I thought it was so good I started thinking about running a similar service up in Edinburgh.

In a moment of serendipity, I spoke to the owner of Isla Inspired (Fiona) and she mentioned that due to family commitments she was going to be closing the business. I purchased some stock from her, and a number of her subscribers opted to transfer over to Graceful Changes.

Fiona was, as I am, passionate about the benefits of clothing rental, and was so helpful and encouraging. I am delighted that her most recent grandchild, born at the same time as my second daughter is now a Graceful Changes subscriber.

With Graceful Changes, I had an idea that I thought could work and I had reason to think that leaving my job at Queen Margaret University would benefit my family so I took the plunge. I worked very quickly to launch the business, it was trading less than a month after I left my job. The connection with Isla Inspired meant I had some great subscribers immediately. I took the approach that I would adapt the business as I went, rather than spending lots of time researching and planning, which I think was the right approach.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

This wasn’t the first time I had made a major career shift. I had previously worked for years in a Big Four accountancy firm and qualified as a Chartered Accountant, before leaving to study for a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. I had never known what I wanted to be “when I grew up” and this kept me open to trying new things.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I used savings initially, but also kept outlays low and reinvested all the money from subscriptions into the business. Subsequently we were awarded a grant from Zero Waste Scotland which is helping us grow.

What was your biggest break?

The support, both financial and non financial from Zero Waste Scotland, which is part of their commitment to develop the circular economy in Scotland.

What was your worst moment?

I fell pregnant with my second child five months after starting the business. Navigating work and toddler care during a fairly gruelling first trimester (for me that’s definitely the worst bit!) was challenging.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

The flexibility and creativity involved. Choosing who I work with and collaborate with is great too. I love that I can be sure that the business’s ethics and values totally reflect my personal values.

What do you least enjoy?

When I have to leave a task half done.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

I want us to grow our subscriber base and scale operations, whilst staying true to our values and keeping a personal service experience.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

The Scottish Government supports and partially funds the work of Zero Waste Scotland. If my business had not been based in Scotland we wouldn’t have had access to this fantastic organisation. Zero Waste Scotland is also supported by European Union funding, so I hope the Scottish Government can continue to support the work of Zero Waste Scotland after Brexit. I strongly support investment in the circular economy.

Post lockdown, the Westminster Government could reassess its priorities and try to deliver a genuine green economic recovery.

As a business, we haven’t accessed any coronavirus-related support. We applied for one of the Bounce Back loans available for smaller businesses. However, we bank with Tide which announced on Tuesday that it had paused Bounce Back lending after trying to secure more funding to allow it to meet demand for loans.

I think the Government needs to address this as access to support shouldn’t depend solely on who you happen to bank with.

I am also aware that many self-employed people fell through the cracks of the Government’s support schemes.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Not to judge my personal worth by external achievements.

How do you relax?

A good nap is delightful. I also enjoy reformer Pilates and wild swimming.