We’re excited to be launching a collection of conversations with people who inspire Gather and Co and we wanted to start the series with the lovely Maria Arnesson. Maria co-owns The Growing Tree in Market Harborough, is incredibly driven in all she does and she also gave Gather and Co the confidence to make the leap and launch. 

You can follow Maria on Instagram here. x

Get Maria's Cornish Sea All Purpose Playmat here

Tell us a bit about you and how The Growing Tree began?

So I’m Swedish and I moved to the UK permanently in 1999. I used to work in high end luxury retail, starting my career with Chanel and then onto Kate Spade.  I met my husband, we had a baby and for us London kind of began to feel a bit much. My husband is from this part of the world and we decided to make the move closer to friends and family, pace down and enjoy a different lifestyle. We moved here two and a half years ago and my friend Pam was launching The Growing Tree and I helped with the launch and getting it off the ground. We enjoyed working together so much that we became business partners and here we are celebrating the store’s second birthday this week. 

What do you love about the Growing Tree brand you have both created?

We are independent and I like to think unique. We’re a lifestyle store that you can get everything children/baby gift wise under one roof. We also love that we’re building a community through hosting events and classes and just a general feeling of a friendly place to come and visit. We love collaborating and empowering local independents and supporting one another.  It’s at the heart of everything we do.

Can you share with us the best perks and most fulfilling moments in running your own business?

I love seeing our customers share and post pictures of their Growing Tree products and I get a real buzz when people have travelled to visit our store. One of the biggest ‘ups’ though is being your own boss, nothing feels quite like it.  Sourcing, hand picking new brands and new stock arrivals are also big highlights! 

The downs and any learnings you can pass on?

Well retail is retail and one week or month you can be selling lots and the next one not so much. It’s all a learning curve, it’s best to not overthink it, trust your instincts but be open minded. Also try and be non-emotional in your decision making which is harder said than done! 

What’s your favourite brand at Growing Tree? 

We love all of our brands for different reasons. We love working with Frugi because they are organic and have an ethical conscience which is very aligned to how we work but we personally pick all of our products so we genuinely adore them all. It’s great to be able to have a mix between really big brands and then being able to have a local independent like Bridie Grace represented. A big wish for us it to keep growing among the local makers and brands. 

You seem to love being busy. How do you juggle it all?

It helps enormously that there are two of us at The Growing Tree. Pam and I have been friends for over 18 years so we have a strong solid relationship. We offload with each other, there is full flexibility and we are in it together. My husband is also critical in the juggle! 

What do you like to do in your down time and what’s the end goal?

I love going for a long walk or run, I’ve not done a lot of it since having my second baby earlier this year but I plan to get back into it. I think as well to just enjoy it all, have fun with work, it’s not the be all and end all, and oh maybe move to Spain one day….

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