Taking the plunge : committing to a start up
September 2018 and my 5 month old daughter Penelope has been dribbling so badly that we are changing her bib up to 20 times a day. It was our routine to wash her bibs daily, but it was not one I was willing to accept lightly.
A very hot trip to Majorca meant that we didn't need to dress her in anything other than a nappy and a bib, thankfully saving us from multiple changes of wet clothes, but I was lying in the sun next to my little girl, who was now resembling New York’s naked cowgirl and felt disappointed that i hadn't found a product on the market that met her needs. Realistically she couldn't continue to go without clothes in our Great British weather and I wasn't willing to keep washing every night to meet the demand of 20 bibs a day.
So what could I do?
It was then that I decided I needed to buy a sewing machine and find my own solution. I work in the medical research industry and love finding solutions to unresolved problems, but this would be a whole new challenge to me. I had taken a brief module in textiles back in high school and spent most of those classes setting up other people’s machines rather than sewing, so my knowledge of sewing was extremely limited, ignoring the fact that was more than half of my life ago!
I had a plan and had researched products and fabrics. My mum bought me a sewing machine and set me up, so really I owe her a huge thanks for helping me to get started. I trialled different shapes and thought about what had worked well in other waterproof products and what hadn't been quite right in other bibs. Crunchy plastic was a big no no and to be avoided at all costs, so I decided to model my bib on the methods used in cloth or reusable nappies which use breathable fabrics that are waterproof and safe for children - the perfect combination!
A few samples later and my daughter began her role as the model. Success was evident straight away, even if my sewing skills were leaving a lot of room for improvement to begin with!!
On her first day of trialling the bibs we noticed that we went from using 20 standard cotton bibs a day down to only 1 of my creation! I couldn't believe it! My idea had worked!! I’m not sure why i had doubted it to begin with? Perhaps because nothing else was already on the market with these features or that I hadn’t got a clue how to sew and didn’t expect the bib to stay together in reality! We really had tried every bib out there and nothing had worked so successfully, so I was elated to have a solution for Penelope!
Because they were working, I decided to make some for friends as baby shower gifts and I received a lot of compliments on the finish of the product, which by this point were looking fit for sale thanks to lots of practice. Friends encouraged me to consider going into business but I was self conscious of my work and felt that perhaps my daughter (and retrospectively my son also) were just unusually heavy dribblers, so I said no it’s not for me and continued my maternity leave as normal. What I had failed to realise, was that the bibs had more uses than just heavy dribbling, such as catching raspberries blown at my face, soaking up water when learning to drink independently and dribble that just comes out of mouths when babies crawl or decide not to close their mouths! I also hadn't considered that despite the bib being of super absorbent fabric; it wasn’t heavy, and could be worn for light dribble also. So why wouldn't someone else want their child to wear this bib, providing the styling and quality were right?
The day it all changed and turned into a business was when I was shopping in Booths with my mum and she overheard a lady at the next till saying that her daughter was teething badly and she couldn't keep up with the bib changes. My mum, who is always one for being confident in my abilities, invited the lady to come and see the bib my daughter was wearing and long story short, she became the first customer of BibbilyBoo! She seemed to be just like me - having tried so many options but nothing had worked and I thought maybe this product really can benefit more than just our family. So I went away and invested in 20 fabric choices and produced a sample in each. From there friends began buying them to give as gifts to their friends and I continued to give them as gifts and the interest began to grow, as well as my confidence in the product. Going into business is a daunting process with so many factors to consider; but the biggest factor is to have confidence in your product, something I now whole heartedly have after realising how effective it has been on my own baby and on others.
I was then at a point where I decided I wanted to go into business but just didn't know how or if it was feasible. Two fantastic friends of mine gave me some words of encouragement, making me feel like it was worth pursuing, telling me not to give up on an idea that others would benefit from and when there is a clear gap in the market. They inspired me to work with the challenges of becoming a start up business and true to my usual nature - if I want something, I will find a way to make it happen. So thank you to my friends, Nikki and Steve, for giving me the final push! Your confidence in my product made me take it to where it is now and I genuinely cant believe that I am going into business producing bibs!!
If you have a BibbillyBoo or have gifted one to a friend, please share some images with us on Instagram using the hashtag #bibbilyboo