How many times have you thought that you’d love to start your own business, write a book, or cycle across India to raise money for charity, yet somehow you never find the time to make the idea a reality? – In a new series, Lumity is talking to inspiring women who have made their dreams come true and finding out exactly how they did it.
When Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs Amy Livingstone and Julie Wilson first appeared on TV’s Dragons‘ Den, they were told by the billionaire businessmen that host the show when they pitched their ideas that they had, “delusional expectations”. Yet their business – which came to fruition after they had one of those light bulb ideas over coffee while they were both on maternity leave – has gone on to be a huge global success.
The two new mum friends founded their baby product company – Cheeky Chompers – which designs baby products to makes teething easier for infants and for their parents while they were getting to grips with their own first babies.
Their innovative brainchild combines a dribble bib with a teether attached so it can’t be dropped on the ground: “Sometimes the simplest ideas really are the best,” Julie tells Lumity.
When children start to teethe, they dribble a lot and they want to chew everything they can get their hands on: “The Neckerchew was born after lots of catch-ups with friends who also had babies – where we witnessed countless dropped, dirty and lost teethers,” Julie explains. “Not to mention a gaggle of dribbling babies. All any of us seemed to do was pick up and re-sanitise teethers and we felt there has to be an easier way. We thought, ‘if the teether won’t stay put, why not attach it to the baby?’”
It took the duo nine months of brainstorming and late nights whilst juggling the demands of looking after newborns to put that thought into action: “We found a fabric that was gentle enough for a baby but also absorbent enough to make sure that the dribble doesn’t soak through,” Amy says.
“We designed our bibs, sourced the best fabrics and materials, tested everything for safety and quality – and even found a brilliant manufacturer right here in the UK. After all that, The Neckerchew finally hit the shelves in 2013.”
Julie adds: “The reaction has been phenomenal, it’s such a simple idea but people have responded fantastically to it.”
So what advice do they have for other would-be entrepreneurs? “Do your research and make sure there’s a genuine gap in the market for your product because if it’s a good idea, someone else may have already thought the same thing,” Amy underlines. “Be prepared for countless hours and late nights spent working. Of course we make time for our families first, but once the kids are in bed, out come the spreadsheets. For a business to be a success you have to have a great idea and be willing to not take no for an answer, and to not fall at the first hurdle. If you’re passionate about what you create for people based on your own experience, customers do respond to that.”
Going on Dragons’ Den and being told no only made the duo more determined to make it work, whereas other people may have given up: “The exposure was great for us,” Julie says. “As for how we made our idea become a thriving business, it’s really a question of doing your homework in your chosen field , making sure every aspect is the best it can be and doing it all step by step and not trying to rush things. Businesses are a bit like babies, you take loving care of them, change and evolve as they do and you can’t expect to run before you can walk.”
Cheeky Chompers’ range of products are now being stocked in the UK’s leading national stores including; John Lewis and M&S, in over 100 UK independent shops and 34 countries worldwide as well as a stylish collaboration with the British fashion house Joules. There’s no question that this business is a roaring success, but they’re not sitting on their laurels and have developed an entire product range adding an intuitive twist to everyday baby products.
“Since the launch of the Neckerchew, we’ve developed a range of innovative, stylish and attachable solutions to help make parents lives that little bit easier. Our luxurious teething comforter, the Comfortchew launched in 2014, and more recently we brought Chewy the teething hippo and our Cheeky Blanket to the market, with a fantastic response.” says Julie. “This week we are launching our exciting new Joules designs and watch out for our exciting new products coming this spring.”
We look forward to seeing what the duo come up with as the business continues to grow. To find out more see the Cheeky Chompers website here.