Huge congratulations to our store of the month for December, Hip-Pose. We grabbed a few words with the store owner, Sam, to discuss her award-winning business, any tips she may have for new business owners and to find out what she wants for Christmas!
1. Please tell us about your business and where it all started
My daughter was diagnosed with hip dysplasia (DDH) when she was just 6 weeks old and put into a restrictive harness as treatment. When this didn’t work, she had major hip surgery and had to wear a full cast for three months. This was a difficult time, to put it mildly, but one of my pet peeves was that no clothes fit her and we’d get disapproving looks when out at about people jumped to conclusions when seeing a baby in the cast. So I designed and made some trousers to go with the cast and the nasty looks were banished! People didn’t notice the cast, the trousers kept it clean and dry and I enjoyed dressing my girl again. The idea of Hip-Pose was then born!
2. How did you get into it?
My daughter was also born with a rare genetic condition that caused severe disability. I made the decision to give up my career to become her carer but I had always wanted to run my own business, so took the opportunity in between hospital appointments and baby clubs to set one up! My Mum was a professional dressmaker, so sewing, designing and creating are in my DNA. This definitely helped in developing a range of clothes that can be worn through all stages of DDH treatment. If I had to pay for those design skills I wouldn’t have been able to afford it!
3. You’re clearly very successful, what kind of marketing do you do for your store?
Thanks!! At the start, I just relied on word of mouth. DDH only affects 1-3 babies in every 1,000 born so my market is definitely niche! I find that social media is a quick and effective marketing tool, I use facebook, facebook forums and love the pace of Twitter although it can sap your time if you’re not careful! I am now working with others who are marketing to the same audience for different reasons. Teaming up with others is helpful when I don’t have a big budget or much time. This year I also collaborated with a major baby brand to create a new product that I designed. Working with a big company really showed me how many plates I spin running my own!
4. You’ve won numerous awards, can you tell us about them?
Hip-Pose has won the Prima Baby award for Innovation two years running (winning Gold in 2015!) Competing against top high street brands was a real buzz! I was also a finalist in 2015 Mumpreneur UK and this year I won the Most Inspiring Business Parent award 2016 voted by Mum and Working.
I was truly humbled by that, as raising a child with special needs and starting a business with my unique brand hasn’t always been easy, so it was lovely for that to be acknowledged. I think winning awards goes beyond pride and marketing, though, it helps to establish that a brand can stand on its own. It is an entity in itself.
5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?
Start off with fewer products then you’d love to put out there and see what sells best then build from there. I listen to customers and have created products in response to demand but only when this also ties in with my brand and is not copying someone else. Lastly, keep true to yourself and trust your gut!
6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?
I needed an eCommerce platform that I could create and most importantly adapt at any time of the day or night myself. Having a limited budget, I have to be able to add products and content, change stock count and interact with my customers without going through a web designer every time. Plus as a working mum, I am often doing this in the evening! I’m not an IT person at all, so I was surprised and delighted that I was able to follow the instructions and develop a website that now sells worldwide. Hip-Pose clothes are being worn globally from the US to Oz and even in Greenland!
7. Please, sum up your freewebstore experience
Great fun! I love the independence freewebstore has given me to launch and sell my unique brand globally. It’s helped me to create a successful business that’s really helping people and allowed me to develop Hip-Pose on my own without huge overheads. I love that the friendly support team are there at the click of a button to answer any techie questions I have and always help me.
8. And finally, what’s on your Christmas list, this year?
A clone of myself to do the washing up, answer emails and pack up orders!
Check out their amazing range of clothing and accessories for suffers from DDH here