Toronto Local: Linda Prangley & Carolyn Ray of Love Me Do Maternity and Baby Store

Linda Prangley is the founder and owner of Love Me Do, a maternity and baby store in Toronto. It was launched in 2013 by Linda and her husband Darren to provide Liberty Village's young and growing families a space that provided curated and thoughtful products. Linda says, "I don’t really like to use the term 'owner.' My colleagues and I are very much equal team members. We work and make decisions collaboratively. That’s the beauty of a small, but mighty, operation."

Carolyn Ray is the store manager at Love Me Do. "Like Linda said, I’m not sure that is the right title either. As a small business, we all share in tasks like arranging deliveries, providing customer service, buying, merchandising, marketing - collaboration is the way we do things here."

How did you decide to run a shop selling baby and maternity goods? What was the idea behind Love Me Do?

My husband and I had always talked about different business ideas. When we moved into Liberty Village in Toronto with our then 6-month-old daughter, we noticed a growing number of young families in the neighbourhood and a growing small space living trend like that of major cities around the world. So we put our ideas to paper and before we knew it, Love Me Do was born. 

What’s a favourite customer story you have from running Love Me Do?

I’m not sure that we can single out a unique story. The most special part of what we do is watching our littlest customers grow. There is something amazing about seeing a parent come in when they first find out that they are expecting, helping to answer all of their questions about becoming first-time parents, meeting their babies for the first time, and being there for all of the milestones (and, sometimes in a pre-covid world, getting invited to first birthday parties!).

What was it like setting up the actual storefront in Toronto? What’s involved in that process?

Research, research, research. Persist, persist, persist. At every stage and through every hurdle.

Carolyn Ray, Store Manager of Love Me Do in Toronto

What has been the most exciting milestone you’ve achieved in your local business so far?

Honestly, figuring our way through this pandemic has been the biggest milestone to date. With every announcement we had to figure out how we will operate to ensure we are being safe and careful from a public health perspective but also how we can continue to deliver the best service possible to our customers. At no point did we ever doubt our ability to problem solve. We just figured it out as we went along and carried on a “can’t stop, won’t stop” mentality.

Love Me Do offers a maternity and baby gift registry - what’s unique about what you offer to expecting parents that they’ll love?

We know that there are a ton of stores out there that offer perks and discounts for their baby and maternity gift registries in Toronto. We’re a bit different in that we are often the first people to say “don’t buy this” and “from what you are saying, you might be better off with a different product and while we don’t carry it but our friends at another store do. Let us call them for you and see if they have it in stock.” We believe that less is more and that the most important thing is having the right thing for you. We genuinely care about making sure that our customer is walking away feeling taken care of and heard. Yes, we are a store, but we want every person who calls us or walks through our doors to know that we genuinely have their best interests at heart.

How has the pandemic reshaped a business like yours?

It’s definitely been challenging for parents during daycare and school closures to balance the responsibilities. How can one person possibly do two full-time jobs at the same time? I think a lot about our single parents and how they’re managing through the pandemic.

In other ways, and perhaps in hindsight, we will see the silver lining in all of this: the extra time we get to spend with our kids. Especially during the first lockdown back in March when the whole world just slowed down, there were more meals together, family game nights, FaceTime with family and friends, and spending time outdoors. I hope that, as life goes back to “normal,” that we try to continue with these newfound family traditions and activities.

Toronto's Love Me Do Baby and Maternity storefront

What does your business look like when you’ve achieved all your goals and dreams for it?

I hope that we will continue to evolve and grow while staying true to our core values of being honest and genuine with our customers, finding and carrying only the best and most trustworthy brands and products, and being a voice for conscious consumerism.

Why did you choose to build your website on Shopify? What tools have helped your business grow?

Shopify is a very user-friendly retail platform. Their platform is forwarding-thinking and constantly evolving to help businesses grow with new technologies as well as changing consumer behaviour and trends. Of course, tools like social media and SEO are important for growth but at the end of the day, nothing is more effective than word-of-mouth marketing for small businesses, which can only happen through positive customer experiences.

Is Love Me Do offering anything special or fun for Family Day?

We are offering DOUBLE LOVE points on all eligible purchases for MONDAY! Get your Family Day purchases in to claim the Double Love.

What’s something families can make together for a virtual Family Day?

Take the time to connect with grandparents, siblings and your chosen family, whether it’s a text message or a phone or FaceTime call.

You can also start a memory book. Create a Google document and add in a few prompts for everyone in the family to contribute to. For example, you can start with:  

  • What is your favourite family memory in the past year?
  • What is your favourite thing to do with your family?
  • What is your favourite family photo from the past or present?

Every year, you can record everyone’s answers. No matter where everyone lives, they can keep updating it as a living document and an annual tradition.

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This Family Day, I'm grateful for the little things. It's been a very weird 2020 not being able to see friends or family and it really makes you appreciate the small moments and putting in the extra effort. I am the last person to enjoy a phone call and with my friends it's a running joke how bad I am at answering a call (however a paragraph-long text session - I'm in!). This past year, I've gotten better at that and have been calling family and friends regularly to connect. Family Day is a sort of funny holiday that started in Ontario in 2008 - only a few years back! It happens on the third Monday of every February and other provinces in Canada have been observing it since the 1990s. It's a reminder to connect with loved ones and in the pandemic, it's a day I think people appreciate the times they have spent together and learn how to connect when apart. Thanks to Love Me Do for their great ideas on how to spend the Family Day holiday (virtually) with loved ones and for providing their shop to support young and new families in the city of Toronto.

Samantha Lloyd

Samantha Lloyd is the co-founder and CEO of Metaranx.