Business profile: Claire Fuller - Mabymule
BabyDirectory checks out Babymule – a hard-working but great looking new changing bag.
Designed to look great and keep everything you need where you need it, the Babymule can be used as a messenger bag or as a backpack. As well as featuring all the nifty extras of a good changing bag, it has been developed like the best contemporary baby carriers – with breathable fabrics and straps for comfortable carrying in several different modes.
Amazingly, mother of two Claire Fuller only launched her versatile yet funky changing bag a month and half ago, at the October 2010 Earls Court Baby Show.
How did you get into setting up Babymule as a business?
Claire: When I had my son, Euan [now over two and half years old], I couldn’t find a bag that really worked for me. The rucksack I was using made me feel like a boy scout when I wanted to look like a glamorous, gorgeous woman! So I tried to design a better bag myself. Then I realised I needed an expert to translate my thoughts for me.
What do you think makes the Babymule stand out from the rest of the market?
Claire: The rucksack I had used when I had Euan was impossible to keep tidy, so the Babymule is designed to keep everything organised however you use it. I took a tiny stand at Earls Court consumer show to see what people thought of it and the feedback was fantastic. It thought, ‘this is a goer’, and it gave me a better idea of where it fits in the market.
What would you say are the elements of your business that make it a challenge and/or a pleasure?
Claire: My background was in project management. I also ran a commercial art gallery and worked with public artwork. Quite a lot of that business experience crossed over, plus presenting at the Baby Show was just like doing the art fairs I used to exhibit at so it was a bit like the old days.
It has been a massive learning curve; I’ve had to pull myself up on my accounting skills, but it’s been lovely working with designers, being creative. Last week my brother in law (who makes films) made a demo video with me, to go on the website. That was great because I knew what I wanted.
What aspects of the job do you enjoy most?
Claire: In a small company you have to do it all. I love that variety – looking at design, talking to customs, dealing with logistics, calculating margins, working out our market. It’s a bit like being a mother for the first time, when you’re thrown all these new challenges and you have to draw on existing skills and learn new ones all the time.
But it is also important to know when you’ve got the expertise, and when you need to ask someone else to do something for you.
You now also have Cora (who is four months old), how has that affected running the business?
Claire: In one way it seems like it has taken a long time to get here, but actually it’s been pretty quick given I have only had time to work on Babymule one day a week until now. I like that juggling, the balance of work and life. And what’s interesting working on a baby product – most people are really accommodating if you take small children to meetings with you, even the big industrial warehouse we use, and the Business Link Northwest people.
Do you have any plans for the coming year that you can tell us about?
Claire: We had a couple of high street big guns approach us at Earls Court, which was fantastic. Now I know that I can approach the places I want to see the Babymule on sale. So next year our aim is to make Babymule a name everyone knows.
The Babymule (£75) is currently available in grey/red or black. For more about Claire and about the Babymule, go to www.babymule.co.uk or call 07932 882 007.
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