Five inside tips from Head Buyers that every Mumpreneur needs to know…

Mumpreneurs, Parentpreneurs, Mumlancers, Magicians! It’s likely that you know one, have heard of one, or possibly are one.  Whatever you like to call us – entrepreneurial Mums contribute more than £7bn* to the UK economy, and are on the rise.

Work-life balance, childcare costs, the desire to be one’s boss and flexibility are just some of the reasons that three in five Mums now want to work for themselves.**

Yet, the latest report from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)*** suggests that we could be doing more.

“Europe reports the lowest female involvement in early-stage entrepreneurial activity (6%) as well as the lowest gender parity – women in this region are only half as likely to be engaged in total early-stage entrepreneurial activity as their male counterparts.”

We speak to

Since retail is one of the most successful industries for Mumpreneurs, we speak to the following three influential buyers for their golden retail tips:

  • Harriet Blanchet (HB) – Buying Director, Jo Jo Maman Bebe; which has more than 80 stores around the country
  • Beth Clifton (BC) – Senior Buyer, com; leading children’s stylish online boutique
  • Hollie Taylor (HT) – Buying Manager in Beauty & Baby, Ocado; the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailer
  • And a spokesperson for Boots UK Buying Manager (Boots)

          

1 – ESTABLISH A NEED

Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy of becoming the next Levi Roots, but the reality is that there must be a need for your product to succeed. But, are you able to detach emotions and look at your product objectively, do you know it’s USP? All key questions for Mumpreneurs.

HB: “Products need to be easy to use, well made and offer value for money. Buying decisions are based much more on how people live, how much space they’ve got at home and good design.”

BC: “Know your stuff! Who is your target consumer? Competitors? ASP? USP?”

2 – IT’S ALL IN THE PREP…

Benjamin Franklin famously said; “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. But how can you plan ahead when you don’t know what to plan for?

HB: “If you are serious about bringing a product to market you have to realise it will probably cost tens of thousands of pounds and on top of that a great deal of your time. When you find a factory you have to be in constant touch with them to ensure they are understanding and following your instructions – you cannot assume anything. Just because you have a clear vision of what you want, it doesn’t follow that the factory always understands that vision too.”

With the unknown of ‘Brexit’ on trade relations, it’s reassuring to know that retailers still welcome products made abroad.

HT; “It’s helpful for products to be ‘Made in Britain’ as customers enjoy local produce and supporting British suppliers. However, it’s not an expectation when looking for new products.”

3 – BE PARENTERPRISING!

See and be seen they say. But just how important is it to be discovered and where should you have a presence?

Boots: “Consumer baby shows are a great way to get your product seen by a wider audience. Don’t be afraid to make direct contact with buyers at large retailers, be prepared with a concise overview of your product/brand offering and unique selling points – this is effective as a power point presentation via email to establish contact. All of the trusted brands in the market would have been unknown at some point.”

BC: “We visit key trade shows, for example Pitti Bimbo and Playtime Paris. Every day we get sent information from brands which we view and if relevant we get back in touch. Instagram has played a big part when searching for new exciting brands. Word of mouth and my mummy friends have also helped.”

HB: “Going to a trade fair in China that focuses on children’s products and talking to as many factories that are there who make similar items is probably a good starting point.”

4 – KNOW WHAT YOU STAND FOR

As fans of The Apprentice will appreciate the highs and lows of pitching to a retailer. However, when the time comes to take your product to market, what’s really important?

HT: “Have a strong unique selling point (USP). With competition ever increasing, doing something different to make the brand and product stand out among others is a must.”

Boots: “There are a number of ways new products stand out to get the attention of our buying team; this can include unique designs/features, true product innovation, product endorsements or awards, strong social following and/or support from key influencers in the baby and child market.”

BC “A lot of new brands think they are doing something different but when you attend trade shows everyone looks the same. Make sure you bring something innovative to the market.”

5 – OWNING IT

And finally – own what you have and use it to your advantage. Being a lone inventor and a Mum in a category dominated by household names gives you a point of differentiation, a unique voice and if nothing else, makes you newsworthy.

HT: “The concept of parentpreneurs is a really interesting one and we’ve been working with a few recently at Ocado, including Sassy Bloom & From Babies with Love. Childs Farm, currently one of our largest suppliers, also started out this way, so we’re certainly keen to support Parentpreneurs where we can.”

BC: “Get in touch directly. We always view emails that have been sent to us and if we are interested will make contact. Exhibit at trade shows. It’s key to build up social channels.”

Well there you have it, a helpful overview from industry experts, loaded with inspiring mumpreneur quotes for entrepreneurship. If you’re looking for further inspiration on starting your own business, check out the Talented Ladies Club – whom I originally wrote this piece for.

We’re keen to hear from all parentpreneurs. You might be a Mumpreneur Singapore or even Australia – we welcome all comments.

Sources:

*Development Economics, commissioned by eBay

**Direct Line

*** GEM report, 2016-17,

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