Leaving careers in marketing and PR behind, Helen and Polly, two best friends and mums from Somerset, came up with a practical solution to the challenges bath time presents. We spoke to Helen about the Cuddledry journey…
Sometimes the best ideas are born out of frustration. Struggling through bath times with wet and wriggling newborns, friends Helen Wooldridge and Polly Marsh spotted a gap in the market for a hands-free toweling tool – a unique hooded baby apron worn by parents. Bath times have never been the same since.
“Cuddledry is all about taking the stress out of baby bath time, making life easier for new parents,” Helen explains.
After practising their designs by cutting up sheets and wrapping teddy bears in them, the Cuddledry prototype was launched in 2007. Not long after, the entrepreneurial pair took Cuddledry to a baby trade show, where parents facing similar difficulties instantly loved it.
“We launched by phoning up a baby trade show knowing nothing about the market we were entering into,” she recalls. “Then Mothercare, the NCT and independent retailers snapped up Cuddledry straight away. It’s kind of gone from there.”
As mums, Helen and Polly were very aware that it was important not to risk their money when there are other people in the family to think of. “We have three small children each that we’re responsible for, so we can’t be putting our own finances at risk.”
So it may surprise you to discover that they turned down three offers during their appearance on Dragons’ Den. “We felt at that stage we had worked so hard, so to know that somebody else owned 40% of that [the business] it would be pretty gutting.” Any regrets? “No definitely not. We feel very proud that we have done it by ourselves,” maintains Helen.
With three children each and a business to run, it’s a wonder how the Somerset pair manage. “It’s a major juggling act, but you have to prioritise being a mum,” she affirms.
And does she have any advice for other mums thinking of getting started in business? “Yes. Do your research with people who are completely impartial. You need honest feedback on your product. With this current economic climate, you need to look at whether your product is going to be viable.”
With help from other businesses, Business Link and UKTI’s Passport to Export programme, they’re taking the world by storm – from the growing middle-classes of Russia to the emerging markets of South-East Asia. “Our economy is not growing, so the biggest opportunities are certainly overseas,” said Helen.
So, what’s next for the busy mums? “We’ve expanded our range, introduced new designs and have moved a lot of our products into supermarkets. The next thing for us is promoting our new products and expanding into new markets.”
Phew, what great entrepreneurial spirit!
Find out more about Cuddledry and the range of products here.
For more inspirational stories of mums taking the world by storm, you can read our “It’s time to take your business to the world” brochure here.
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