When her first daughter, Etta, was just 6 weeks old, Jen Fuller noticed her baby staring intently at the black and white patterned jumper she was wearing whilst feeding her and ignoring the plain muslin draped over her shoulder; “I glanced from Etta to the jumper to the muslin and had my lightbulb moment!”
In this exclusive interview, Jen tells Nursery Online how a flash of inspiration turned into her successful baby business ‘Etta Loves’ – and how her dream has taken the initial products to the University of Sussex – and beyond!
“I became fascinated by what Etta, and babies in general, could see and set out to recreate the magic on her face and developmental benefits by turning omnipresent baby items into sensory essentials using the wonder of science, and Etta Loves launched in October of 2016, the week that I returned to work. Our first product was our 3-pack of sensory muslins in animal print, which continues to be one of our bestsellers to this day.”
What sets Etta Loves apart from other baby products?
“Our precise application of the science of infant vision makes us totally unique, as it enables us to transform baby essentials into everyday sensory tools that appropriately support babies’ eye and brain development, whilst giving parents priceless moments of calm as a result too. Simply put, we take products that all new parents need and we make them better because they do more than simply their primary function by delivering practicality, style and developmental support in one.
We design alongside our consultant Orthoptist and our very own PhD student at the University of Sussex, who input the latest learning on what babies can see and what they like to look at. Couple this with the highest quality of materials and our stunning designs that look good in even the most stylish of homes, and we really do offer something extremely special.”
What do you enjoy about being in the baby business?
“As a market it’s dynamic, innovative and really is all about taking the best possible care of the next generation. I love the camaraderie between small businesses, and I especially love my customers and retailers who have shown us such huge support since launching, and truly understand and appreciate what we do differently.”
What are your bestselling products?
“Our bestsellers are our muslin 3-packs, in particular the Plant and Animal print ranges, alongside our multi-functional sensory strips and our reversible playmat in both the Animal and Keith Haring range.”
Why should a retailer stock Etta Loves, and what sales/ after sales support can you offer them?
“We offer something totally unique to retailers and their customers through the careful and precise application of the science of infant vision that sits at the heart of everything we make and do. Our products are the best they can possibly be at supporting a baby’s visual and cognitive development and customers come back time and time again to benefit from and gift the Etta Loves magic.
A retailer can have full confidence in the quality of our designs and manufacturing processes, all our products are GOTS certified organic cotton, and our factories are fully audited. We come with great passion and dedication to supporting our retail partners through unique content from our team of experts, POS materials and easy access to all the essential information through our wholesale hub.”
Tell us more about the Keith Haring collaboration and the research with Sussex Baby Lab.
“It has been a real honour and privilege to bring the joyous, iconic artwork of Keith Haring to a new generation, recolouring and rescaling his work in line with infant visual ability to deliver babies’ first art gallery experience. The collaboration is ongoing, and the range is selling extremely well across the UK & US markets, it really does make me smile every time I see it.
Our 3 year scientific partnership with The Sussex Baby Lab is a hugely important part of our strategy, as a business we are committed to understanding, applying and advancing our knowledge of how babies learn to see. This partnership enables us to further validate our designs, and harness cutting edge science on infant perception and aesthetics to develop new designs and products, as well as providing evidence of the scientific basis of our brand. Every day is very much a school day working with the team at The Sussex Baby Lab, and it’s sparking some genuinely fascinating conversations and future innovation. The most recent research we’ve done together has advanced our collective understanding of babies’ preference for colour from birth, which will be translated and applied across our range.”
Can you share any business plans for the year ahead?
“This year is the second year of our partnership with the Sussex Baby Lab and we will be using the results of our proprietary research with them to bring best in class products across nursery, travel and playtime. We have three new category launches planned for the year and some innovative updates to our core range to ensure we are producing the best possible sensory products on the market.”