What does your company do? What products services does it provide?
Izzy Melody designs, develops and implements British manufactured innovative baby products, such as the I.M. BabyBangle – a multi funcional, soothing baby teether that also helps stimulate speech, weaning & motor skills practice.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As a mum of two little girls coming from a design background, I was always intrigued by the various options of baby products and had a vision to one day start my own company. I wanted to bring out a brand that captured all my thoughts and ideas in a range of beautiful, ethical, thought-through and very practical products.
Whilst investigating, the company Izzy Melody was born. It was a long and hard (but extremely rewarding) road. Physically bringing my ideas to life was extremely exciting and finding the right manufacturer here in the UK (one of my main goals for safety, quality and control) with the right ethics was hard work, but worth it to bring my products out in the exact way I envisaged.
When did you start up, and what support were you given?
I started Izzy Melody in February 2013. We are working very closely with UKTI and have already done a show in Hungary with them. We’re also going to a show in Germany and France in the next few months with their help and support. We have also received advice and help through the European Regional Development Fund, and we are involved with the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce for our exporting needs. We have also received a Startup loan to kick-start our great British company.
All of this help has meant we now have a structure and a support network behind us to strengthen and establish our export offering, and we are extremely grateful for this. I’d encourage anyone who’s looking to export to visit the Business is GREAT campaign, which aims to help more businesses like us access the support they need.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
A very hard question as there have been so many! An obvious one is of course the fact that my products are now sold in many retailers around the world. In the UK alone, our retailers are John Lewis and Mothercare and we’re launching in other retailers this autumn. Seeing parents use my products is incredibly satisfying!
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
I have gone through many of the challenges new businesses face, such as securing start-up capital, breaking in to a market, creating the right support network, and more. One of Izzy Melody’s main challenges is finding the right British manufacturers; many have closed or moved. On the upside, many are starting to come back as lots of companies are now also trying to source from within the UK. We hope we can be an example for this, as we do see ourselves as a little bit of a front runner on that side of things!
How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?
A main USP for the BabyBangles was the fact it was going to be manufactured right here in Britain. It was really important to me as a parent, selling to other parents, to know exactly what was in my products and what the factory conditions where they’re manufactured were.
I really wanted to create a truly British nursery brand. As hard as it was, I eventually found an amazing British manufacturer who embraced all my ideas and ethics. Only 15 months down the line now and we’re seeing the benefits of this. Plus, we have now started to supply major special needs product providers on request, as the bangles have proven to be much stronger than specifically made chew toys in this market.
What has been the best decision you have made to-date?
Manufacturing in Britain and doing tradeshows in our industry (national as well as international), which are costly, time-consuming and hard work but so worth it – they have proven time and time again to be our most important and main route to market.
Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?
We’re planning to build on our initial success and we’re working hard to develop our product range further, sourcing new British manufacturers for our new product ideas, and focusing on other countries to export to with the help of UKTI. The future is open and exciting and my dream is for Izzy Melody to become a trusted and recognised nursery brand amongst parents and retailers worldwide.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
My main advice would be to really make the most of the contacts and network that government organisations have to offer. The really want to help and are very passionate about what they do. You can’t beat the advice, support and industry knowledge they have to offer. We found it helped saved us not only lots of time but also money.
What do you find most satisfying about running a business?
It is the little things that make me so proud, like as looking back on the past 15 months and saying ‘wow, I have achieved so much’, seeing parents with my products, having my six year old daugher tell me that she is going to open a shop when she grows up, proudly standing next to me whilst speaking at a womens’ conference and her helping me with product sample ideas. Those are the main moments I hold very dear and that make me want to move Izzy Melody even further.