This week for my Parents in Business series I am delighted to be featuring Sara who created Babycup; a amazing open cup that is designed for little hands and little mouths, and one that is recommended by dentists and healthcare providers, plus it is 100% recyclable too. I almost wish that I had known about these to help my children use a cup for drinking.
Sara developed her Babycup in response to her own needs and wishes for her children. Since launching Babycup, the brand has gone from strength to strength, selling more than 500,000 cups in 25 countries. All of this is based on a huge passion for the product, turning mindsets and continuous learning. Babycup really is a unique product and you can continue to find out more about it and just how Sara created it by reading her interview….
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I am a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, a group designed to propose legislation changes in support of children and their rights for a healthy and happy start in life. I have three children, they were my inspiration for Babycup and my sipping mission. Babycup First Cups are 100% recyclable and if a recycling facility isn’t available to our customers locally, we will arrange the recycling for them. Babycup First Cups are Made in Britain.
My working life has spanned a variety of jobs, from wingwalking (exhilarating, chilly and a great view!), to looking after the marketing for an optical company (long days, late nights – not too dissimilar to parenting but with the bonus of airmiles and a salary!), to working on sponsorship in Formula One (fast paced and exciting, a great experience and it was also where I met my husband – he was the first chiropractor in Formula One and we were working with rival teams!). It’s since I became a mum to our three girls that I’ve found my calling in launching Babycup and creating Babycup First Cups.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
Babycup was born from the classic situation of wanting a product for yourself – or in this case, for my children. Shortly after becoming a mum for the first time, I tried drinking out of a sippy cup to see what I was trying to get my baby to do as part of weaning. Not only was the size of the cup at odds with size of my baby’s hands and mouth (like you or I learning to drink from a bucket!) but it was near painful to try and drink from and felt totally unnatural. You needed to have the suck of a vacuum cleaner to release the liquid, or be a baby weightlifter to lift these cumbersome things. It all seemed wrong.
Everything else for little ones was mini in size or easy to use and designed with the baby in mind, but not cups it seemed. I looked into this conundrum and found experts actually recommended open cups for sipping and healthy oral development. Childhood oral health problems are the biggest cause of childhood hospitalisation in the UK and like all parents, I want what’s best for my children for a healthy start in life, so I searched for the perfect baby-safe and baby-sized mini open cup. It was nowhere to be found. That lightbulb moment started my mission to create Babycup First Cups. It took me three babies to turn my lightbulb into reality and after a huge amount of learning, from injection moulding manufacturing to product safety certifications I have now sold over 500,000 cups.
The biggest obstacle was changing mindsets and getting information out there to help empower more parents with information about the benefits of open cups. Parents were being sold convenience and I could understand the appeal. Babycup sells ‘best for baby’. Not to be deterred by big retailers responding with, ‘Health? That’s a bit niche!,’ Babycup has remained constant in the ethos of supporting healthy habits from the start. Social media has been a great way to spread the word and so too has working with health authorities at home and overseas helped establish Babycup as a trusted brand.
Babycup First Cups are Made in Britain, 100% recyclable and are now multi award-winning, internationally-exported and working with dental experts to help transform the weaning habits and oral health of babies and young children in more than 25 countries worldwide
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
It’s variable! Some days I fail miserably at maintaining some semblance of balance, other days I manage better. My children are very much part of Babycup discussions and have grown up with great skills at packing boxes and brainstorming ideas!
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
Each step, even the little ones, have felt significant and have helped to make the long hours and the relentless hard work feel worthwhile. Getting listed in stores at home and overseas, working with health services such as the NHS, working directly with health professionals such as dentists and dentists, winning awards for best baby product – thank goodness for these successes as without them it can feel hard to keep on at it. The biggest success by far though is the messages from parents who tell me the impact my little cup has had on their little one’s feeding or drinking and the photos and videos they send me. It honestly makes my Babycup world go round. Knowing that my little piece of the healthy start jigsaw is helping, that is a lovely feeling.
What are your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Seek out help and advice and get involved with communities of like-minded people. If you find a gap in your knowledge or a crossroads that feels perplexing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Through launching the Babycup brand I have met the kindest, most generous, business confidantes by ‘reaching out’ to others. The extra bonus is you might become friends too. Do your thing, crack on with it but do not hold back from asking for help if you find you need it. In return, you can pay it forward, backwards, sideways, and give out your help to others too. It’s all part of the kindness circle that helps the world go round. A great starting point is connecting with relevant online communities and also visiting trade fairs for the industry you’re starting up in.