Mumpreneur Series – Featuring – Babyboo.ie
Tell us your start up story? How and when did you begin?
We are in our fourth year of business, we started in September 2014. We are two normal (most of the time) mums living in Cork in Southern Ireland who have five kids between us ranging in age from 4 to 13 years. So you could say we have pretty much seen it all, or a lot of it anyway. We design, manufacture and sell our own products online, our aim is to provide you with products that are functional, cute and resolve a problem you have. We design everything based on things we wish we had had when our children were younger and always have skin sensitivity in mind because all of our children have sensitive skin and eczema.
Our first product was bandana bibs, a slight obsession of mine, when Ruby was born 4 years ago and turned out to be drooly, refluxy and has eczema it proved a challenge to find a bib that didn’t cause a flare up but soaked up all the wetness and looked cute. As any mum with a refluxy baby will tell you when you have to put a bib on your baby constantly you get very jealous of other mums who can put cute outfits on their little ones and not have to drape a bib over the top!
We decided to manufacture our own when we realised I wasn’t the only one with this challenge. We shared them with a few friends who also loved them and then started working on designs that would make our bibs stand out and look great as well as functioning really well and being kind to babies with sensitive skin. We have our own illustrator so the designs are all ours and we have expanded them across all our range of products now. We now have a newborn sized bib, a newborn swaddle made from organic cotton, a SnuggleBoo sleeping bag with detachable sleeves, also organic cotton, an organic cotton robe and beautifully soft 100% organic cotton blankets. This year we introduced organic cotton hats in two styles, a feeding bib called the YummyBoo and a burp towel for small babies.
How did you fund your business?
We self funded initially and reinvested for the first 18 months. We took a small bank loan to expand the product range and have since taken further funding from the bank. We didn’t take a penny from the business for almost two years.
What would be the main challenges you face running your own business?
The financial side of the business is a huge challenge, cash flow and ensuring everything runs smoothly is Michelle’s focus thankfully. Finding a balance is also a big challenge, running your own business is like having a new baby, you want to be constantly tending to it and looking at it and making sure it’s happy and healthy which can be very time consuming. We both have to take a step back and times and switch off to focus on fitness and our home lives.
What keeps you motivated?
Growth – seeing the business growing and our customer base expanding. We absolutely love getting photos of babies in our bibs, designing new products, throwing around ideas for the illustrator and then seeing them all come to life are huge motivators.
What is the best thing about running your own business?
The flexibility for me has been fantastic, as a solo mum the first two years were challenging when I was working full time and working on BabyBoo.ie. Since I left my job in May 2017 I wonder how I fitted it all in! But now having the flexibility to take a snow day with Ruby or collect her early to go to the park on a nice sunny day are fantastic. I thrive on watching the business grow as well so this is definitely a huge plus in my life.
How do you keep a work life / balance? juggle childcare?
I had an au pair and a childminder for a while and now I have a childminder who is fantastic. Ruby is in Montessori and I take Friday afternoons off to collect her and spend time one to one, no mobile allowed (most of the time). I struggle to find time for the gym so that’s something I’m focusing on at the moment and as I say since I focused on this full time I definitely feel like the balance is better.
What are you most proud of?
We sold 100,000 bandana bibs last year, for me that’s just insane, every time I see a baby with one of our bibs on I get a little burst of pride.
What are your goals for your business?
We’re focused on the International market right now, we just launched free delivery when you spend over €30 anywhere in the world. We’re also working on two new Winter products which is really exciting.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Research your market first, be sure you know who your target audience is and where you can reach them. For us social media was a huge aspect of this for example, without Facebook we would never have grown so fast. Don’t underestimate the power of investing in marketing.
Where can we find you?