Meet Isra and her Streatham based Café, Lattjo Pop!

I grew up in Sweden and I moved to London when I was 18 to study. 2 years into my studies I found out that I was going to be a single mum. I always knew that I was going to be self-employed but I felt It was something I’d do later in life. So, when I got pregnant and had to drop out of uni, I just sped up and made it a bit quicker. So, I set up an online retail store that sells children’s clothes. My initial idea was to set up a space for parents were they could go, get pampered have a snack, the children could play – so really a haven for families. But it would cost too much, so what I did is I set up an online store and I did that for three years and it really helped me sort of network with other mums that were setting up businesses and I realised that the two problems that I have. So one, I have a special needs child that I found difficult taking out and about and I’m a person who really enjoys cafes and galleries and cinema and whatever, but I really struggled. And the other part of the problem was with an online store I was struggling finding pop up spaces, or affordable and flexible spaces that weren’t rigid that weren’t expensive so I combined the two and decided to set up Lattjo Pop.

I was looking for spaces in Streatham because I was living in Streatham, and I was thinking about how many mums there were here that had so many talents and they were all doing things online and so I set Lattjo Pop up as sort of a space for them to bring in their talents while catering for families and children to combine the two. That was it!

I’ve been running Lattjo Pop for about a year, and it started with crowdfunding, and I was really lucky with the space because I didn’t have to buy into a lease and so I got to do what I really wanted to do from the start. So we offer space for small businesses, either in a pop up way or a sale and return and also parents can come in and find products that are targeting them, knowing that it’s made by local parents so it’s really supporting the local community and it’s really just a relaxed space for children to play in.

What are some of the struggles you’ve run into along the way?

I think realising that people are a bit scared of independent places. You know, you’d think that they’d really love it and be really into it but, possibly not and that it’s quite scary to go into an independent space. One of the struggles has also been that it’s a very complex and different concept and to get that across so that people know what it is. The number of times, I think on a daily basis I have to explain to people what it is. Financially it’s a struggle as well. I think it’s quite sad that places where you have people who genuinely just want to do things for the community aren’t getting much support and I see that with most social enterprises and not just LattjoPOP.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Meeting people, networking with people, meeting others that have either similar ideas or have problems and you can help them sort of fix it. I think my favourite thing especially when I was running the online business was you know, I don’t necessarily want to sell clothes to people, but what I want to do is help people who make clothes find their target audience. So, really helping the small become bigger and I’m really all about small businesses and that’s what I really like about this, that I know I’m helping someone. Especially because it’s a social enterprise and a community space I know that I’m probably helping someone on a daily basis even if it’s small things I know I’m doing something. Other than that, on a sort of selfish level, I think it’s the flexibility of it. Any time I feel discouraged about Lattjo Pop I look at job ads and then that inspires me to work on the business because I just dread the process of getting a job and then keeping one. But yeah, I guess any entrepreneur will just say that they do just like working for themselves.

If you could have any enterprise related superpower, what would it be?

I think I’d quite like to clone myself. There are times, there are so many things I want to do and I want to clone myself because you know, with a brick and mortar shop you just have to be here, but then maybe your clients, or your ideas or your inspiration is somewhere else. I’ve tried the whole commuting, going back and forth and going to this event and going to that event and trying to be out there whilst still being here and that’s tricky. And it’s not a criticism of not being able to work with people it’s just I want to experience these things. I run the café as well, so if I’m constantly having to do that, where is the time to actually sit down and plan? Then you’re behind with that and you’re going and you need an extra day to do that which takes away from everything else.

Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

Ideally the dream would be that Lattjo Pop is standing strong and there’s another Lattjo Pop in London and 5 years from now I’ll be planning an international Lattjo Pop. So then, my cloning would have to go up to 6-7. But for now, I’m happy with 2. This one, another one and planning a third one. Just ramp up the clones.

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