The Sportbaby Story
You wouldn't have thought that sisters Julie and Jo would feel any fear in setting up their own business.
After all, Julie used to be in the Army and was awarded an MBE for her services to Intelligence and Jo once had Karren Brady as a boss, which, if you watch the Apprentice is enough to have anyone quaking in their shoes. But they admit they had and still do have many nervous moments.
"It took a couple of nudges from different directions for us to really take the plunge", explained Julie. "We'd often talked about being our own bosses and starting a business, but the timing never seemed right. I'd worked in the public sector for many years and had progressed to a national role with the police. It was highly pressured, but rewarding and I really thought I was "making a difference". Then my son came along and completely changed my perspective on what was important in life. Not only that, but being a new mum I could no longer "nip to Oxford Street" to do a bit of shopping and I found it stressful to go to shopping centres with baby. Online shopping was the way forward and much more convenient, but I struggled to find somewhere that offered the baby sports and leisure wear that I needed in one place"
Meanwhile, Jo was working for a large sports retailer and noticed it
Joanne explained, "We realised, that there was a bit of a gap in the children's sports, leisure and outdoor market that wasn't being covered by any of the big retailers. They either offer sports, with a small amount of baby and toddler wear; or they provide children's wear, with a small amount of sports items like swimsuits. No-one was offering a range that covered everything you might need to get active with your kids.
"With years as a buyer in football, health clubs and major sports retailers it meant I was able to push a few doors open for Sportbaby, which has enabled us to offer a range of sportswear from popular and niche brands, while building on our ethos of enabling kids to be happy and healthy through being active".
"It was really scary to start with, and some suppliers are always a bit dubious with a new start up, but we're building a reputation for service and reliability and now have stronger relationships built on trust. With our customers, it's simple: we treat them as we like to be treated ourselves. We already have repeat customers, who we hope will come back again and again as their kids grow."
"There are still moments every day when there is something new that
The sisters have worked hard to establish the business, with support from friends and family to get the business running. Julie is rightly proud of where they have got to in two busy years.
"We made a decision early on to do as much as we could ourselves. This was to keep costs low, but also to ensure that we understood every aspect of our business. Some would say it's better to let the experts do the job, but to be honest we weren't in a financial position to do that and now we're really pleased we took this approach"
Jo added " We're really proud of what we have done so far, but think this really is just the beginning. Sportbaby has been trading for one year and in that time we have been approached by brands such as Converse and SnapMe Swimwear and asked to stock their products. US brand SnapMe is a great example as Sportbaby is now the sole UK distributor for its innovative baby and preschool girl's swimwear and it is relationships with brands like this that help us establish ourselves as offering something that bit different from other retailers".
"It's been tough, but would we do it all again? Absolutely. I just wish we had been brave enough to do it years ago."
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Read some reviews of SnapMe Baby Swimwear
Read some reviews of SnapMe Baby UV Swimsuit
(SnapMe is a range of girls swimwear, featuring a unique, patented design with a snap fastening bottom making it easier and simpler to use with babies and toddlers as they start to explore swimming.)
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