The twin sisters who created Loulou Lollipop are making the world a cuter place, one teether and swaddle at a time
By SHERI RADFORD
Sometimes the sweetest ideas are born from a life event that seems cataclysmic.
Eleanor Lee was eight months pregnant when she learned her employer was bankrupt and everyone was out of a job. “It was a really scary situation,” Lee says, with a baby on the way and no post-maternity-leave job prospects. Lee and her husband knew they couldn’t survive on one income in the pricey Lower Mainland.
When the baby was about six months old and started teething, she often played with Lee’s necklaces, chewing on them and breaking them in the process. Lee worried whether the necklaces were safe for a baby—and she was upset to have her necklaces broken—so she started looking for wearable-teether alternatives. She wasn’t impressed with what she found. “Nothing really spoke to me,” she says. “They weren’t fun enough.” That’s when her interior-design skills kicked in, and the idea for Loulou Lollipop was born.
Lee’s twin sister, Angel Kho, encouraged Lee to start the business: “Make something, put it on Etsy, see how it goes.” No short-term strategy, no five-year plan—just a desire to make safe but adorable teething products. Lee had started a business before, a health-food store that ran for a few years. “That was a failure, but it was fine. We all learn from failures,” says Lee, adding, “It’s in our blood. Both of us tried different businesses before.”
In 2015, after lots of research, Lee figured out how to get her silicone teethers made and started selling them at pop-up markets. Kho was working as a database administrator at the time, but after a year of late nights helping her sister on the side, she decided to quit her job and jump into Loulou Lollipop full-time.
The twins agree that working together is easy. Lee focuses on the design and production side of things, while Kho does sales and marketing and keeps an eye on the numbers. Lee says, “Because we’re family, we don’t need to sugarcoat the conversation, so it’s more straightforward and things actually move faster.” Kho agrees, saying that since they’re so alike and think the same way, discussions can be short. But, Kho adds with a laugh, “Because we’re so similar in personality, we push each other’s buttons, too.” Recently the twins’ husbands joined the company. “They’re taking over more of the mundane stuff,” Lee says, which leaves the twins free to concentrate on what they call the “fun stuff.”
The product line has expanded since those initial teethers. Now Loulou Lollipop offers cute-as-a-button swaddles, pacifier clips, bibs, blankets and more. Kho is partial to their washcloths, which have soft muslin on one side and bamboo terry on the other, making them soft enough for babies but useful for exfoliating moms’ skin, too. Lee has a hard time choosing just one product: “I like them all!” When pressed, she decides on the ebi sushi teether as her favourite of their recent designs. “But we always want to push our limits. The next design, we always want to do it better than the previous one.” When asked where they find their inspiration, Lee and Kho answer together, “Everywhere!”
As for the business’s cute name, Lee says the “Lollipop” part was easy, since it suggests something sweet and chewable. But “Lollipop” couldn’t stand on its own. According to Kho, “It’s boring. It’s lonely. It feels like it needs something, either in front or behind.” So they decided on “Loulou,” which is a French term of affection for children.
Loulou Lollipop—a sweet name for an equally sweet line of products.