Our first ever customer was a glamorous grandmother-to-be out shopping with her pregnant daughter. The grandmother-to-be bought a set of Buggi Lights within minutes of the show opening as though it was the most natural thing in the world. I could have kissed her. We were in business!
Next we needed publicity. As a former journalist, my first instinct was to write press releases. Re-enter my rule of 10. I composed a list of the top 10 baby publications, wrote emails to each of them, sent samples to the top 3 … And soon Buggi Lights were appearing in ‘Mother&Baby’, ‘Prima Baby and Pregnancy’ and so on.
So we had a product, and we’d had a bit of publicity, and we’d sold Buggi Lights to all our friends and all our family. What next?
This is the stage which I think is probably the hardest for a new business like ours and where we might very well have floundered. When the first flurry of excitement is over and it starts to dawn that, ok, you are selling two or three products a week through your website but that doesn’t a business make.
The turning point – a big deal!
We got lucky. It was March, just after the UK’s only baby products trade fair in Harrogate. Buyers were on the lookout for new innovations. I rang Hippychick – several years running voted the Best Distributor in the Nursery Industry Awards – and I spoke to the boss, Julia Minchin, who seemed absolutely lovely and who agreed to a meeting the following week. We met, got along well, and by the next autumn Hippychick had become our distributor, selling Buggi Lights into shops all over the UK.
Then began the hard part. The rush of starting up was behind me, my husband was back at work full-time. And into the mix, I was pregnant with our second child. A huge learning curve lay ahead. I had to teach myself many things: how to deal with a factory in China, how to organise shipping (imagine one of those huge liners laden with containers, well a shipment of Buggi Lights took one small corner of one of them), all about EU safety standards, and so on. And I had to do it while taking care of a toddler and, very soon, a baby as well.