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Happy Families - Hippy Chick

PUBLISHED: 17:02 27 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:34 20 February 2013

Julia with her three children Sophie, Olly and Tom (left to right)

Julia with her three children Sophie, Olly and Tom (left to right)

The founder of a family friendly company tells Sarah Ford how the business has grown into an award-winning success story

The founder of a family friendly company tells Sarah Ford how the business has grown into an award-winning success story



Hippychick is a company that prides itself on selling the products that you never knew you needed but cant live without. And their award-winning Hipseat a belt that helps you carry a child comfortably while supporting your spine must surely have saved many parents backs over the past 11 years.
The company, which began with this simple but effective Hipseat, now supplies a wide range of products to over 500 retailers throughout the UK, including John Lewis, Mothercare, Boots, Tesco, Sainsburys and Harrods. Via their website (hippychick.com) customers can also buy everything from waterproof clothing to mattress protectors, from baby carriers to baby shoes and from wheeled toys to bath time accessories. The products in their range have won over 20 high profile parenting awards and the company won the coveted title of Exporter of the Year for Somerset and the South West in 2006.
Hippychick founder Julia Minchin started the business at her kitchen table in Spaxton and her inspiration was her first baby, Tom. Julia is now a mother of three and the business, which supplies practical and high quality nursery products today, occupies a site encompassing three warehouses and offices on a site in Bridgwater. After two years, Julias husband, Jeremy, left a career in the Metropolitan Police to help run the business, taking on responsibility for production and sales. They now employ 16 people.
The couple are huge champions of Somerset and of Bridgwater in particular. Most of the workforce is local and several members of the Hippychick staff are parents who are free to structure their working week around family life with part time or flexi work options. It is this successful family-friendly working environment that has gained the company a prestigious Mum and Working award; it beat over 400 other nominees to the title of Company of the Year. In 2011, Hippychick aims to add two new product ranges to its stable and to increase turnover from 2.5 million to 3 million.



Hippychick founder Julia Minchin started the business at her kitchen table in Spaxton and her inspiration was her first baby, Tom



Its a long way from that kitchen table and Julia recalls the hard work setting up a new business.
The early days were tough
we were working from home juggling children, couriers, deliveries and using virtually every room in the house! she says. We ended up working long hours into the night and I can remember packing Hipseats at 2 oclock in the morning ready to go to John Lewis. But we were in our 30s then, the children were very young and we probably had a lot more energy!
The Hipseats were originally manufactured in Minehead, but had to move first to Romania and then to China due to costs. Over 100,000 have been sold to date and the back saving device is also recommended by osteopaths, chiropractors and health centres.
As we became known in the market people started approaching us to distribute their products. We also began looking out for ideas that we particularly liked such as our very popular Bed Protector range which are pure brushed cotton on both sides, manufactured in Europe and sell extremely well.
Hippychick actively seeks and promotes parentpreneur products, where the inventor has a great idea whether it is at design or prototype stage. Im passionate about giving other parents the chances I have enjoyed,
and many of the products within the Hippychick range have been launched
in exactly this way.
Their nationwide Mumpreneur competition was launched in 2009
in association with Prima Baby. (They
are launching another one in March.) The first winner was Bumpsters individual cot bar bumpers invented by mum of two Jane Wall-Budden, which sold out within the first two weeks of launch.
Julia, Jeremy and their children Tom, Olly and Sophie always test the products in the Hippychick range themselves.
If a product works for us then chances are it works for others, says Julia. Our experience of being parents puts us in a unique position to understand what products would be truly useful to other families.
But I wondered what it was like for Julia and Jeremy working closely together each day? It works as long as you have clearly defined areas of responsibility, she says. We dont always agree with one another by any means but it is not an issue. I feel that because we work together it is important to pursue our own particular interests.
Moving into the Bridgwater premises seven years ago certainly made life easier. At home we were using every bedroom for stock and even a barn down the road. I had just had Sophie when we moved the business to Bridgwater and suddenly we had big overheads, which really focused the mind. And I have yet to have any maternity leave!



For further information go to hippychick.com, call 01278 434440 or email: sales@hippychick.com

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