Please tell us a bit about the nature of your business...
Made in the UK, Cheeky Chompers produce a range of stylish and innovative baby essentials designed by mums to make parents’ lives that little bit easier. Founded in 2013, myself and Amy Livingstone identified a gap in the market for an attachable teething solution following our own experiences picking up dropped teethers! We developed the iconic Neckerchew, an innovative chewable absorbent dribble bib with a teether attached which has achieved worldwide success. The Cheeky Chompers range is now nine products strong.
With more than 1.3 million products sold to date, the full range is available in many high street stores in the UK including John Lewis, Jo Jo Maman, Boots and in 35 markets worldwide.
What inspired you to start your business?
Amy and I were lucky to meet through having children however we never imagined we'd set up a business together soon after! The business came out of our experiences when our babies were teething and we were constantly picking up and sterilising dropped teethers – ‘why doesn’t someone invent a teether that stays attached to the baby’ we thought … We launched the World’s first chewy dribble bib the Neckerchew in 2013 and haven’t looked back! We make all our fabric products in the UK and have designed a range of stylish and innovative everyday parenting essentials to make parents’ lives that little bit easier. All our products are practical, attachable, machine washable and stringently tested to worldwide standards.
What was the most challenging aspect of building your business in the beginning?
It definitely hasn’t been all plain sailing. Neither of us had backgrounds in retail and it has been a steep learning curve understanding barcodes, pallets, MOQ’s and the export documentation! We invested heavily in IP and then successfully gained first to market positioning in key markets, but have had many battles enforcing our IP. We have fought hard to manufacture our products here in the UK and maintaining a market appropriate price is a constant consideration and we work hard to constantly innovate, refresh and stay one step ahead which means you can never get to the end of the to do list!
If you were to launch your business again, would you do anything differently?
We have made a lot of changes along the way as we have gone through our journey. We wouldn't change much but perhaps we could have made more of online global marketplaces earlier on. However there are always so many considerations which are particular to different markets.
What keeps you motivated?
Our passion for our company, it's like having another child and you just want to see it do the best it can!
How do you balance work and family life?
Growing our business whilst having our own young children and families it’s all about effective juggling! We have a flexible work culture which helps. Running your own business is certainly not the easy option - but definitely very rewarding!
What’s your proudest business moment?
We were honoured to be presented with the Queen’s Award for International Trade. It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate with our family, team, factory and everyone that has helped us along the way. The Queens award is the most prestigious award given to recognise business success in the UK. It provided us with a significant opportunity to grow brand awareness worldwide, a real steeping stone on our Cheeky Chompers journey.
What’s been your most successful form of marketing and/ or brand awareness?
We appeared on Dragons’ Den 11 weeks in to business with the Neckerchew and whilst the dragons loved the product they did not believe our projections. When it aired a year later we benefited from a fantastic PR boost and traffic to our website had an astonishing uplift during and after the broadcast. It’s amazing the recognition that early appearance has brought us. We’re pleased to say that we smashed all the figures the Dragons’ dismissed within a year of business so we’re one of the ones that got away!
Do you have any positive habits or routines that you feel have attributed to your success?
Regular team meetings to make sure we are communicating the best we can in a busy and flexible work environment. Also, always make sure we are talking to customers and gaining feedback so we can learn from the needs and wants of our customers.
What's your favourite business app/ tool/ book/ podcast etc?
I love listening to audio books and my current favourite is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (the founder of Nike) about their journey. Also podcasts are great to listen to on the go or whilst I'm cooking! I love learning from other entrepreneurs' experiences. I've recently been listening to Ted Talks and Entrepreneur Problem Solvers.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs just starting out?
Our top tips for success: • Listen to your gut feeling- trust your instincts! • Make sure you have identified a genuine gap in the market then make the solution the best It can be from all angles..then go for it • Actively listen to your customers and constantly deliver the best product or service you can to meet their needs • Do something you’re passionate about and excites you - this motivates you at work and home! • Prioritise a work/life balance. Look after yourself- setting up and running your own business is challenging. While it’s rewarding you need to be prepared to weather the high and low points
If you want to get in touch or see more of Julie and Amy's adventures, head over to her website or social media:
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