A woman from an Quainton has used her experience of surviving a life-threatening pregnancy scare to launch an all-British online department store that supports independent brands.
Lara Chant, the founder of BritYard, was 36 weeks pregnant in November 2020 when she experienced an amniotic fluid embolism during the final stages of labour - a dangerous and extremely uncommon maternity emergency with a mortality rate thought to be up to 86 per cent.
However, after multiple haemorrhages and blood transfusions, she was able to leave the hospital with her new baby daughter and a new view on her life and ambitions.
The 33-year-old said: “The hospital said it was one of the most complicated births they had ever seen and our midwife tutor told her students they would likely never see this condition during their careers.
"After you have an experience like this your perspective completely changes. I remember lying in hospital thinking ‘life’s too short’ and wanting to follow through on an idea I’d had for a long time.
“The mixing pot of the pandemic and the experience of giving birth created an atmosphere of ‘why not?’.
"There seemed to be a growing sentiment towards supporting local business and I felt it was time for me to try to do my bit too.
"I found it frustrating knowing that there were so many homegrown brands out there creating beautiful and inspiring products but that finding them was a huge, time-consuming challenge.
"I felt that these brands were hugely under-represented in the British retail market and was convinced that I can’t be the only one who would like to hear about them!”
Earlier that year, Lara and her husband, started BritYard, an online-only department store that exclusively features and supports independent British brands, intending to showcase them together in one place for the first time and providing a far louder voice for the designers.
She said: “So, throughout lockdown we worked on the business concept, having conversations with brands, consumers and tech partners to establish the best way of bringing the idea to life.
"We were overwhelmed with the positive responses from the incredible brands out there and our small but growing customer base."
Having previously worked as a publishing strategist, Lara said she is very conscious that content is at the core of all good businesses and that would very much be the case for this business too.
She said: “BritYard will become the home of independent British brands, their products and most importantly their stories so that consumers can get to know the people they are buying from and ultimately see that buying local, buying small, makes a big difference to real people. People just like you and me."
After multiple surgeries, Lara and her husband went on to build and curate the site themselves – often contacting brands between hospital appointments whilst also juggling the demands of being new parents.
Lara said: “The complication was one in 100,000 but I survived it. We used this to spur our bounce back and begin building our new business from the ground up – coming back from the brink to create an online platform that’s all about championing brands from right here on our shores.”
With the whole ordeal allowing Lara to realise the potential of her idea, she is taking inspiration from her background to not only promote these brands but to redefine what it means to ‘buy British’ by aiming to represent the true diversity of business owners across the UK.
Lara added: “Years ago, people would laugh at me when I said British wine would be a big thing – but now it’s grown exponentially!
“This shows that there is a desire to support the businesses and people closest to us. Buying British can now sometimes be seen as a negative thing due to Brexit and I feel like there are a lot of people who think it’s all about patriotism – but it’s far from that.
“It’s about championing the small man from humble origins, supporting brands that work on small-scale production lines, creating high-quality products as sustainably as possible. It’s about doing something that gives back to the community I’m hugely proud to be part of.”