This week on my Parents in Business series I’m really excited to introduce you to Helen and Polly who created Cuddledry – a revolutionary idea to help parents dry their baby after bath time. I remember thinking how good this towel would be when my daughter was a baby, and how it could make that tricky time of the day that little bit easier.
Here Helen shares their amazing business story, which they have adapted and grown over the past 15 years alongside their family commitments and external economic challenges. I’ve loved reading this, including their honesty over making money (profit), and I would love for you to have a read too….
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
Polly and I are old friends from uni, who found ourselves struggling at bathtime when we had our first babies. Getting soaked, crying baby, juggling slippery child and towel….. you know the story! We thought it was just us, but then we talked to friends and found we were not alone – the bathtime struggle is the same in everyone’s home! We thought there must be a better way to do it. So, with no experience whatsoever – we came up with a design for a towel that attaches to the parent, and forms a large, cosy wrap to snuggle your baby. No more stress – just a simple, gorgeous product that gives you the extra pair of hands you need. We wanted to make bathtime a calm, lovely experience, with dry parents and happy babies – and that is what we created with the Cuddledry towel.
We have both always felt strongly about protecting the environment in all we do in our lives – including our business. So from the word ‘go’, Cuddledry has done its very best to be as ethically sound as possible, from our manufacturing to the point where our products touch your baby’s skin. We use the best materials, and our towels are made with sustainable bamboo, making them far softer than normal baby towels. We monitor our carbon footprint and offset it with tree planting here in Somerset where we are based. We are passionate about doing our best to protect our planet as well as making bathtime with your babies a wonderful experience!
What motivated you to set up your own business?
We were motivated by the realisation that we could make life easier for new parents like ourselves. We hit upon a product idea which could make babies and parents happier – a huge motivator!
How do you balance or juggle your business around family commitments?
We’ve been in business nearly 15 years now so this has shifted over the years. We have 3 children each, and the eldest ones were babies when we started. At the beginning we worked very strange hours – quite a few very late nights and early mornings, nap times too. Now they are all older and at school, so we can work during the day – but running your own business still demands a lot of ‘out of hours’ work too. The children are old enough now to understand, and although of course there are times when we would rather be with them than working, it has taught them all to have a great respect for working mums, and being an entrepreneur.
What do you view as your biggest success since setting up your business?
Gosh that’s a good question. There have been so many exciting times – like when we received offers of investment on Dragons Den – but in truth the biggest successes are much more day to day. The fact that we have maintained a profitable, successful business for fifteen years is the greatest. We have faced economic crises we never imagined – recession, global textile price issues, and of course coronavirus. We have faced tough times, and made wrong decisions. But we have come through those and the business is better for it. And we have worked together as a team through all of it – and had a lot of fun!
What are your top tips for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
The thing that came into my mind when I read that question was actually something Theo Paphitis said to us. He said, ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’. We’ve seen so many parent businesses come and go over the years for this reason. It is easy to create an idea, a brand, pretty packaging and a website, but turning those things into sales which make a real profit is the key thing. Working hard on marketing, keeping a tight rein on profit margins – those things are fundamental. Never lose sight of actually making money from what you are selling, because ultimately that is what will give you job satisfaction and a sense of self worth – and an income of course!
Thank you so much Helen and Polly for sharing your business story with me, what a success it’s been so far, and I wish you all the best for the future.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Pura, Blinds Direct Online, and Allcott Associates