March Muses brings much more to the table than bullets

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Incredibly, when Natalie Duvall’s kids asked for Christmas decorations that looked like themselves in 2018, Duvall could only find such decorations in the United States.

This was impractical given the cost of postage and the time it takes to ship the items to the UK.

It was this lack of diversity in this area of ​​the Christmas market that gave Duvall, along with co-owner and family friend Alison Burton, the idea of ​​starting a black character gift company.

Both women are very busy juggling motherhood with full-time jobs and running March Muses.

Duvall is a mother of two girls who works full-time in marketing and Burton is a mother of one daughter who works full-time in pharmaceutical recruitment.

They work from home on March Muses and built the business themselves with savings without investors.

Like most new companies, Duvall and Burton learned a lot through trial and error.

They first started with their own designs and contacted a Chinese manufacturer to produce prototypes.

There was a lot of back and forth before they got the right design, texture and skin tone of their products.

Her gorgeous, elaborate tree decorations featuring black angels, Santa Clauses and celebrities were ready to share with the world.

In the first year they sold a total of 1800 custom decorations to family and friends to test the waters and see if their designs and concept were right.

All items are sold out within 10 days.

With this success, self-confidence grew.

They realized that there actually was a market for their product and they could build a worthwhile business that made a difference to their customers.

As scary as it was, they ventured into their first commercial venture.

They started on Instagram and slowly word got around that this business was really serious.

They had pop-up shops all over London for a short time.

Orders kept coming in.

However, not everything went smoothly.

Starting a business for March Muses was a steep learning curve.

Initially, they worked from their kitchen tables, which after a full day of work at their daily jobs, coming home, preparing dinner, and putting the kids to bed is frankly exhausting for anyone.

To then process orders, get them ready to pack, rush to the post office the next day after taking the kids to school, and go to work proved to be a turning point for the couple.

In Duvall’s words, “Working from home was organized chaos.”

It also meant that the boxes of items took over the living rooms of Duvall and Burton.

That’s when they realized they had to work smarter.

They now employ a distributor which means they can focus on designs, marketing and growing the business.

Business was good.

However, the killing of George Floyd brought black-owned businesses into sharp focus.

Black businesses were no longer a tick box or an apparent nod to diversity, they became a valid member of the commercial club that can often exclude black trade.

Blue Cupid Wrapping Paper
Blue Cupid Wrapping Paper

Black businesses had earned their place at the proverbial table.

Since Floyd’s killing, global commercial initiatives have included Black Pound Day alongside other social media campaigns.

Burton says, “BLM has made a difference, small steps.

“There has to be more than one black square on Instagram.

“We need to get black people into boardrooms and be decision makers and not just be seen as ‘ethnic’.

“Black people need to be deeply rooted and part of your ecosystem.”

When the pandemic struck, the company was able to continue trading, which, while a struggle, Duvall and Burton were determined to get the business up and running.

To date, March Muses has been featured on ITV News, Channel 5 News, the Metro and the BBC.

However, it was a 40-second clip on the ITV morning show ‘Lorraine’ that brought March Muses into the mainstream.

Burton says: “That 40-second clip got us £10,000 worth of business.”

They have since had a residence at Selfridges and are stocked in many outlets including Various in Brixton.

They are collaborating with designer Candice Stewart and have plans to diversify by adding Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other top-secret concepts.

March Muses are so much more than a couple of moms working part-time and running a business.
These women are determined and ready to spread March Muses worldwide.

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