Thinking of what to get a friend who’s expecting a bouncing bundle of joy soon? Arlou & Rose began as a way to solve the lack of mother-centric gift boxes in the Singapore market; owner Rose Kuruvilla decided to start her own home business catering to expectant mums and create gift boxes, pregnancy gifts and baby gifts catering to different trimesters.
The brand name itself is a combination of Rose and her two daughters’ names, Aria and Louisa (Arlou).
Share with us how you got started in the business of gift boxes for mothers, mothers-to-be and babies.
I was on the lookout for a nice gift for a friend who was expecting her third child. She already had lots of baby items from her previous two children so gifting her more baby items didn’t make much sense at that time. I thought about what I would want in that position – I was also expecting my second child at that time – and realised the things I really wanted were things for me that I could use in my pregnancy and after giving birth.
Pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding are all wonderful things but they can be really challenging too. So I tried to look for a unique gift for new mums and expectant mums; but I couldn’t find anything in Singapore that was suitable. With that, I decided to put my own box together for my friend, which she really loved and appreciated. It celebrated her carrying a new baby, provided some comfort and reminded her how loved she was.
I carried out further research on products that I liked and wanted to include in my boxes. In fact, a lot of the pregnancy and breastfeeding products in my gift boxes are items I’ve personally tried.
Tell us more about the partners you work with.
As mentioned, the products I choose to put in my gift boxes are products I like and have tried and tested. Initially, I bought the products at retail prices and tried a few combinations in my boxes. If they worked well together, I contacted the supplier/wholesaler/distributor to see if I could purchase stock directly from them.
Most of the suppliers I contacted are really happy that we have their products in our boxes and are happy to supply them. They’re very supportive and even help boost our social media posts if they’re tagged in them. I also have a few friends in the flowers and gifts industry who support my business and help with packing and delivery when I have my hands full.
What sets the different trimester boxes apart from one another? How do you decide what the gift boxes require?
The contents of the gift boxes are influenced by my experience as a mother of two – with some understanding of how pregnancy trimesters work and what each stage needs. For example, morning sickness and constantly being tired tends to dominate the first trimester. So, I made sure the boxes had a lot of products to help alleviate nausea. One great example of a first-trimester box is the Rose Box.
The second trimester is when your tummy starts to grow; you generally feel more relaxed as you come out of the morning sickness phase. For those pregnancy gifts, you’ll find belly masks, body scrubs, bath fizzies, belly oils, tea and biscuits. The Toby Box and the Pippa Box are really popular for this trimester.
The third trimester is when everything starts getting heavy – where the aches and migraines start occurring. Your iron intake also matters here, so in those gift boxes, you’ll find heat pillows, iron supplement cookies, pregnancy-safe energy drinks, calming teas and some baby gifts like onesies. The Alex Box and the Aria Box are good examples.
Baby showers tend to happen in the third trimester as well, so people like to buy pregnancy and baby gifts. We have some gift boxes, like the George Box, for the third trimester, labour and the baby.
Lastly, we also have a New Mum and Baby category that has items for both mother and baby. You will find lots of breastfeeding products that help mum boost supply like the Nicole Box and the Bree Box. We also have boxes that are steered towards pampering such as the Matilda Box, the Grace Box and the Izzy Box.
How has your own motherhood journey influenced your business?
My own motherhood journey plays a big part in this business as it really helps with deciding what products should go in my boxes. Having two young daughters helps with knowing what kind of products I want to include in my boxes by thinking about the type of products I would use on my kids, the type of products that really worked for me and items that comfort and pamper.
I invested a lot in nausea-alleviating products as I went through a lot of morning sickness with both my pregnancies. I wanted to share these with other mums out there who feel the same way I felt.
I also had a lot of issues breastfeeding my first child, especially when it came to building a good milk supply. Hence, you’ll see items such as nipple balm, lactation cookies, and teas and snacks that help boost milk supply.
What’s one lesson you’ve learnt from this gift box business?
I receive a lot of inquiries about certain products and their use – a popular question is ‘what is a onesie used for?’ and ‘what is a heat pillow?’. When I first heard these questions I was surprised that many people were clueless about their purpose. My husband then reminded me that many customers haven’t been mothers before and can’t be expected to know a lot about baby products.
I thought of a way to help with this by creating a page on my website on product information. Here you’ll find details on some common products in our boxes, what they are and how to use them.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of running Arlou & Rose?
Having to manage the boundaries of working from home. However, I really enjoy packing each box myself, creating new boxes, purchasing products, updating my website and managing inventory. Sometimes, I deliver the boxes personally, especially if the location is nearby.
Any new pregnancy gifts or boxes to look out for?
I’m actually creating some gift boxes for fathers. I’ve had some enquiries about gifts for fathers-to-be and new fathers, so I thought it’d be a great idea to explore.