A CORK woman is driving the need for change in the children’s lifestyle industry through her independent online store that, she admits, launched from unlikely circumstances.
At five-and-a-half months pregnant, Elaine Moran was made redundant from her job in the events industry. It was an unwelcome setback during the pandemic, particularly facing into the birth of her first child, but she recognises now that it gave her the push she needed to launch her socially and environmentally conscious children’s lifestyle store, Maypole Lane (maypolelane.com).
She turned disappointment into opportunity, and since May of this year, Maypole Lane has been offering sustainably focused alternatives for kids.
“I remember that first-time-mom excitement of preparing for the arrival of our little boy, but also how daunting and unnecessarily time consuming the search for eco-friendly children’s items was,” said Elaine.
“I wanted to steer away from plastic toys and other harmful materials, as they are not only totally destructive to the health of our planet and take hundreds of years to break down (and that’s only the ones that can be recycled; most plastic toys are made from mixed materials that can’t be recycled), but some plastics and the chemicals they are made from contain toxins which are unsafe for our children to be playing with.
Having discovered so many beautiful brands on her own quest – brands who were also passionate about reducing their environmental impact – she really wanted to share the collections in one space.
From there Maypole Lane was born, with a vision to be part of the movement away from disposable items and promote a buy less, buy better approach. It’s what Elaine grew up with in Ballinlough.
“We always recycled at home, even before the waste management system of different bins was introduced, I remember my dad sorting which material went where.
“My parents are very industrious, always looking for ways to avoid sending things to landfill, but instead choosing to repair or upcycle items. To appreciate the value of things is definitely something that has been passed down from them,” she said.
Brought up on her mum’s stories of their great-grandparents living off the land and growing their own crops, living with her own family now in Blackrock, they compost everything they can to feed their vegetable plot.
“My husband Brian and I want to reduce our impact wherever possible, while ensuring that we share the process of growing with our son Caelan, who is nearly two, so he is aware of where food comes from,” she said.
Their household is very selective about the clothing, toys and produce that comes inside their door.
“We have also switched to more energy efficient and less harmful solutions in our home and in our transport decisions,” said Elaine.
“And what we live at home is being carried through to Maypole Lane, from the businesses we work with, to the materials and products we take care to select, to our packaging, which is almost entirely plastic-free and eco-friendly.
Maypole Lane’s eco credentials are too lengthy to mention but include labels and packaging tissue printed with soy-based inks; natural and home compostable brown kraft boxes; garment bags made from a compostable combination including corn starch; and note cards made from 40% recycled material and 60% from sustainably managed forests.
“We try to use local suppliers wherever possible and are keen to support other Irish businesses.
“Anchor Studio, based in Kenmare, Kerry, did all our graphic design. Our signage and the majority of our print comes from The Factory in Offaly, our packaging is from JJ O’Toole in Limerick, and we use An Post as our delivery partner,” said Elaine.
They’re soon to be a family of four, with another little arrival due at the beginning of February, and even though primarily an online business, Elaine is hoping to launch a bricks and mortar store in the next couple of years, which would be the ultimate dream come true.
“When I think ahead, I look forward to being able to open up the store each day, not knowing who you’re going to meet, but having lovely conversations with our customers and helping them out with purchases for anything from birthdays, to new babies to Christmas. It is something I think about all the time,” said Elaine.
“But as a one woman show, like every other working mom, the daily juggle between childcare, home life and running your own business is challenging, but I am totally energised by my decision to launch Maypole Lane and love what I do!
“I am learning something new every day, with lots of research and courses thrown in for good measure!”
Obviously, establishing a new business during a cost-of-living crisis hasn’t been ideal.
“The business was launched completely without funding and from personal savings, which is always a huge risk. No one could have predicted how the second half of this year could have gone.
“Now, with the cost of living, people are being more selective with their buying decisions. But in many ways, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as one of our guiding principles at Maypole Lane is to buy less, but buy better.
“It is thanks to our loyal customers that we are able to keep going, reinvesting our revenue back into the business to ensure we continue to make a difference and be part of the change towards a more sustainable future for our children,” she said.