Interview with Piccolo Gifts founder Joanna Rowlands

When mum of two Joanna Rowlands started a business course she decided to open an online gift shop to put her learnings into practice. Today, Piccolo Gifts is a thriving home business.

What is Piccolo Gifts?

Piccolo Gifts is an independant online gift store based in Bristol, South West England. We sell wooden toys, organic and fair trade toiletries, clothing and baby comfort gifts, beautifully packaged in keepsake boxes, at reasonable prices.

We delight in providing individual gifts while keeping prices low but value high – everyone loves to give and receive a gorgeous present and to have it delivered, beautifully wrapped or gift boxed adds an extra special touch.

Our nine boxes are available in three sizes for boys, girls and little surprises – catering for individual, baby shower and maternity leave gifts from colleagues.

What inspired you to start your own business?

Piccolo Gifts began as a project to challenge myself while I was embarking on a business course – a practical application of my learning and a long held ambition to begin a start-up enterprise.

I adore wooden toys and had bought my own children music boxes and money boxes as babies, so these were a must.

Including products handcrafted in the UK, fair trade and organic clothing and toiletries while maintaining accessible and enjoyable prices is the mainstay of the business, I wanted to create a company that I would buy from – again and again.

How have you found your business journey to date?

I would say the personal growth that has paralleled Piccolo Gift’s growth has been both interesting and enlightening. It has truly surprised me how much there is to learn, juggle and decide upon and how many doors have opened as a result of launching a business.

I am gaining confidence, knowledge and skills each day and meeting new people each week – many of whom are truly inspirational, there are so many positives to creating and owning a business.

What’s the most  challenging aspect of running your business?

With Piccolo Gifts, the steep learning curve has been an ongoing challenge. Balancing the pressures of a new business and a young family life is a juggle and often quite chaotic. There is a mountain of information to absorb each day in order to grow and expand but it is thrilling and wonderfully enjoyable.

And the most rewarding?

I love sourcing products and receiving them! It’s a little like shopping without the guilt.

But my absolute favourite part of the business is feedback from customers, knowing and seeing in print that both the customer and the recipient (sometimes one and the same!) are happy with the service and gift they have received. Repeat custom is the greatest compliment a customer can give.

What does Piccolo Gifts mean to you?

Piccolo Gifts has been a labour of love and a much-needed sanctuary to maintain a sense of self amidst the chaos of two children under four years old.

To create a business, maintain family life and avoid being swallowed up by mother’s guilt is a challenge, and I will continue to embrace it.

The pride and feeling of accomplishment I have enjoyed since embarking upon this journey is far more than I had imagined, and I look forward to many more years of Piccolo growth, diversity and fabulous gifting experiences for happy customers.


What’s your advice for mums struggling with work-life balance?

Managing work and home is a challenge for parents, and the guilt of doing anything non-child orientated can be a struggle and feel selfish. But getting it right, I believe, is the key to the enjoyment and longevity of both work and life.

I’ve found that it’s important to prioritise, adjust the pace, take time and remember that feeling satisfied and content can result in a happier, better parent.

My advice is to be human, have flaws, be honest and ask for help and involvement. No man is an island and there is no shame in allowing the involvement of others – in fact it is often more fun!

Trying to do it all – as much as we are told this is something we can all do as 21st Century women – is sometimes a very lonely and ill-fated path. So delegate, share, bounce ideas off family and friends, and take time out to enjoy your achievements.

Launching a business has big highs and stomach churning lows but ultimately I am here by choice to create an environment conducive to family life.

You can find out more about Piccolo Gifts and browse their range of gifts on their website.