Name: Paul Baines
Age: 43 (years young!)
Wife: Tracey is my better half! She used to be a Detective in the Police but is now an amazing full time mum to our three lovely girls
Children: Ellis 20, Millie 12 and Poppy 7
I’m still a Sergeant in the Police force – a job that I love and that I’ll stick with until the My Buggy Buddy business gets too big to sustain both. It’s incredibly hard work running two jobs at once, but I love them both which helps.
What is the name and nature of your business:
My Buggy Buddy is a Ronseal business. It does exactly what it says! We (my business partner Paul Clubb and I) provide essential accessories for that most essential piece of baby equipment – the buggy. We now have four products in our range:
- Our best selling Clip which enables parents to safely and securely carry multiple bags on their pram frame
- Our ingenious Lock which provides parents with peace of mind that their pram will always be waiting for them no matter where it’s left
- Our uniquely designed Buggy Weights which provide a counterweight to the weight of additional bags etc and stop a buggy from tipping over
- And our brand new Buggy Shade which is the most compact and versatile buggy shade available and has just won the BANTA award for Best Travel Innovation 2013
Our range is inspired by our own experience of being parents, by our work as policemen and by other parents telling us what they need. As hard working parents we’re also very value aware, which is why none of the accessories in our range cost more than £15.
What inspired you to start your business?
My business partner, Paul Clubb, who is a colleague of mine in the police force, came across the original Buggy Clip and was selling it, but just as a hobby on eBay. He was selling around 30 a month but I could see that it had so much more potential.
I borrowed £1000 and bought a container of clips from him on a sale or return basis and set up a stall at the Earls Court Baby show in October 2008. I’d never done anything like it before and had no idea what to expect. In three days I sold 3000 clips. I was blown away!
We knew then that we were really onto something and the My Buggy Buddy business was born soon after.
Our second product, the My Buggy Buddy Lock was borne out of our experience of being policemen, where we’d become aware of the increasing problem of buggy theft (which has increased by over 200% in the last five years). Creating a simple but ultra secure combination lock for prams effectively gave them peace of mind that their most expensive and essential piece of baby equipment would never be stolen.
How does it fit in with family life and your existing job?
Time is the biggest issue. Smart phones help and being able to function with just a few hours sleep is a bonus. My wife is very supportive and when it’s possible the girls all travel with me to trade shows. They hit the local shops while I bring in the money to support that working hard on the exhibition stands! It is hard work but with planning it all fits ….. just!
What has been your biggest learning curve so far?
Every day is a learning curve. Neither my business partner or I had ever had our own business or knew anything about retail so it’s a case of learning as we go. But if you’ve done your research, got a great product, got the support of your family and surround yourself with strong teams (Hippychick for instance have been great distributors), you can make a success of your business even while you’re learning the ropes.
What has been your most positive experience?
Winning awards for the products in our range and for our business has been a real buzz. Knowing that over 40,000 parents voted for us in the Loved by Parents Awards in 2011 to help us win Silver in the ‘Best Travel Invention’ category was a real pinch yourself moment. Seeing your products on someone’s pram somewhere else in the world is pretty good too!
Where would you like to be in five years time?
We’ve got three goals for the business:
- To carry on expanding the range (although we’re single minded about the fact that we’ll only introduce products we 100% believe in).
- To carry on developing our export market as we feel My Buggy Buddy has real global potential as a business.
- We’d also love to be manufacturing all of the My Buggy Buddy products ourselves in the UK. That would be a big step from where we are, but we’ve never been afraid of a challenge so it’s definitely something we’ll work towards!
What advice would you give to other parents hoping to combine parenthood with a new business idea?
I’d have three pieces of advice for parents wanting to set up their own family orientated business:
Go in with your eyes wide open! It’s never going to be easy. You’ll have some incredibly tough days, financial challenges and come across obstacles you’d never anticipated but, having said that I’d also say: Go for it! If you identify a genuine gap in the market and have enough determination, drive and enthusiasm you can make your idea a commercial successIt can be hard work to do this, but try to involve your family where you can.
It’s fun to work altogether and if the whole family has contributed it creates a real sense of joint pride when something really positive happens with the business. It also helps if your family understand the sacrifices that have to be made along the way. Because my girls have been involved with the business from day one they understand why I have to be away from home when they might not want me to be. I love the fact that with my business partner Paul Clubb, we’re creating something both families can be really proud of. Who knows? They may be running the business in years to come!
For more information about the My Buggy Buddy Range of accessories go to: www.hippychick.com