Interview With Victoria Hampson Founder Of Natural Baby Shower

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 09.32.03Tell us a little bit about Natural Baby Shower

I launched Natural Baby Shower eight years ago and we are now the leading online retailer of ethical and eco-friendly baby products. Our online store stocks everything from clothing and nursery furniture to toys and buggies, all of which have been carefully researched for design and quality.

Our online store is home to essentials such as nappies, slings, changing bags, toys and a vast selection of organic clothing all from top name brands including Aden + Anais, Pacapod, Storksak, Cuddledry and Frugi as well as brands such as Finn + Emma who are making their UK debut exclusively at Natural Baby Shower.

The most recent additions to the site include a wide range of buggies and car seats from premium brands like Joolz, Babyzen, EGG, Bugaboo, Mutsy, Cybex & BeSafe.

However, it’s not just the day-to-day essentials, we also offer everything you need for the nursery from cots and changing tables to moses baskets and play gyms, all from much-loved brands such as Boori, Leander and Snuz.

Not only is our product selection one of the widest available but we have always strived for our customer service to be second to none.

 

What inspired you to set up the business?

I launched the company after I was inspired by the natural approach to parenting I experienced during my first pregnancy while I was living in New Zealand. My husband and I realized there was nothing catering for this market in the UK and when we returned we decided to set up a business that would solely cater to mums wanting a natural approach. Our main products when we started the company were real nappies. With the average baby going through approximately 6,500 nappies in their early years, parents are not only spending a small fortune on disposable nappies but are also contributing to the 3 billion nappies that end up in landfill in the UK every year. That’s 8 million nappies a day. We wanted to show parents not only how easy real nappies are to use but how much money they could save as well as the positive impact on the environment. We are pleased to say now that real nappies are a lot more popular as mum are becoming more conscious of their environmental footprint.

 

You recently opened your first store, tell us about that.

Yes, we are so excited about this. We had been trading online for over eight years so knew there was a demand for a store of this nature. The design of the store was really important to us. We wanted to create somewhere light and airy where mums could shop at their leisure without feeling under pressure. We also wanted to create a place where they feel comfortable asking questions, trying out items like cloth nappies and carriers and seeing for themselves how easy they are to use. We get such a buzz from interacting with our customers face to face and helping them try out new products.

The store is generously spread over two floors with a spacious car park. The ground floor is home to all the clothing and baby essentials such as carriers, nappies, and changing bags as well as all our buggies and car seats. Upstairs you will find our nursery showrooms featuring everything you could need to create the perfect nursery. The store also features a private room where you can sit down with a personal shopper to discuss everything you are looking for as well as have them demonstrate how to use any of the products such as swaddles or different types of carriers. There is even a toddler friendly corner with wooden toys and a sofa for dads where they can sit and read a magazine, all aiding an enjoyable, stress free shopping experience.

 

What have been the biggest challenges in running your own business?

I think managing my time as you are always working when it is your own business. It is very hard to turn off as there is always something you can improve or progress. It is really important to have the right team around you and then be able to delegate and empower the team. Neither of these are easy to do! Both require time, planning and training and it seems time is something I am very short of. In the last year the business has gone through a lot of changes with almost an entire new team coming on board with the move. It has also grown at an astonishing rate since the rebrand and store launch and managing this growth effectively without letting our standards drop has definitely been a challenge. When it your business you have to have to have the answers for everything and this canb be difficult as there can be areas where you have absolutely no experience at all. It can be very stressful and overwhelming at times but incredibly exciting when you see the changes.

 

What do you find the most rewarding about running your own business?

Watching it grow and develop. It is great to be able to action ideas you may have without all the red tape to get through. We have a great team who are working towards the same goals. It is only when you look back that you can see how far you have come. I don’t like standing still and we have so many ideas for the future. It is a constant learning curve which I embrace. I have discovered so many aspects of retail and business in general. Over the years and there is still so much to learn! I really enjoy the relationships we can develop with the suppliers too and being able to support innovative startup businesses and watch them grow and develop alongside us.

 

Where do you see the business in 5 years time?

Well if we can continue at the rate we are growing, we should have a very healthy turnover and will definitely need further premises. We already feel we have outgrown our Bagshot store and need to expand the number of physical stores. We have recently starting distributing the Finn+Emma brand from USA and plan to add other brands to this side of the business. Our own label is also under discussion and we are constantly trying to improve and grow our online business.

 

How do you balance running a business and being a mum?

It is really hard and as a mum you always feel guilty. I hate having to tell them just a minute and not now, but on the up side when it is your own business, you can take the time off for a school event, so long as you can manage your own calendar. I feel like I am constantly running and always late. I take the kids to and from school every day as I don’t want to miss those times and I don’t have any help at home. Trying to be a full time mum, whilst also running a business isn’t really possible and it can leave me quite sleep deprived with zero me time. It’s all worth it though and I have never been one for sitting still.

 

What would your advice be to another mum thinking about setting up their own business.

I would say that it will be like another baby and will take a lot of your time and energy, so you should be fully aware of how demanding it is going to be – you never really stop working.  You should really research your idea and business plan before setting out. Competition is fierce and it will not be a walk in the park. If you are confident in your plan however and are going into it with your eyes wide open and a good network of support around you, then you won’t get anywhere if you don’t go for it. Running your own business is extremely rewarding and despite the long hours it is great to be able to manage your work around your family and be your own boss.

 

What are the 5 most essential products you would recommend to a new mum

Ok so firstly you need some aden + anais swaddle and musys (the smaller versions). They are so multifunctional, from a swaddling wrap to a cover for discreet nursing, a sun cover on the buggy to wiping up those little spills and so much more. Super soft, super absorbent and gorgeous designs.

Lilypadz if you are breast feeding – THE most amazing reusable, non-absorbent breast pads which will let you wear whatever you want!

A baby carrier – personally I started on a wrap carrier (Close Caboo) and moved to a buckle carrier (Ergobaby) when my baby was 6 months old. It was my lifeline! With 2 older children, the carrier left me with 2 hands free to deal with them, while my baby remained happy and close.

A merino sleeping bag. Temperature regulating it allows you peasce of mind that you baby will not overheat whilst sleeping

A bedside crib. The Snuzpod is so brilliant. It allows you to have your baby really close at night, saving any unnecessary trips across the room/ landing in the night!

 

You can visit Natural Baby Shower at www.naturalbabyshower.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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