Cara Sayer, Founder of SnoozeShade talks to us this week about how her business had to adapt during the pandemic, why safety will always be paramout to her brand and how she keeps in line with current trends in the nursery market:
It’s been a challenging time for retail; how do you think the next 12 months will be across the sector as a whole – and for the nursery sector in particular?
“It’s been a real rollercoaster of a year for everyone and my heart has gone out to all bricks and mortar retailers who have had their businesses removed in a flash. One positive is that I think it has made customers more online savvy and I’ve seen many retailers start an online presence and become more active on social media which has been good to see. It’s also been great to see the British public rally round a lot of local small businesses and I hope that continues.”
What sets SnoozeShade apart from its competitors?
“Back in 2010, when I launched my first product, SnoozeShade was a world first! There had never been a product that helped babies sleep in the pram and give high quality sun protection. Over the last 11 years SnoozeShade has won over 70 awards, my products are recommended by baby sleep consultants worldwide, been seen on TV and have even been used by royalty. It’s truly incredible to look back and see what has come from simply solving a problem that I had as a new mum! I never take anything for granted though and am always looking to keep learning and adapting. To maintain position as the UK’s favourite sun and sleep shade after the last year is testament to the power of the brand and to the dedication of my team.”
It’s been hard to engage with both retailers and customers while stores are closed. How has SnoozeShade reacted to the Coronavirus pandemic and how have you had to adapt the way it operates?
“To be honest, I didn’t really change much in the way we operate. I couldn’t get any help from the government and sales plunged off a very high cliff when lockdown hit. So, at one point, I sat with a pencil and paper working out the bare minimum I needed to keep the business afloat for a year. That was scary. I went through all my costs with a fine comb and justified every penny I spent (which is actually a useful exercise to do regularly anyway as I found quite a few things that I thought I’d cancelled or just didn’t need any more). I managed to keep all my team together and working. Having had some stressful times, we ended up having a fab British summer and sales exceeded my expectations. Last year was a strong year. We invested a lot of time on social media raising brand awareness. We’ve carried on delivering great customer service throughout and that has stood the business in good stead.”
Today’s parents are more discerning than ever, especially when it comes to safety – how do you keep your brand in line with current trends?
“Over the last eleven years, quite a few copycat products have emerged but safety is one area where SnoozeShade is always ahead of the game. I create all my products as a mother, and so safety is my number one focus – always. One way my products stand out is that they meet the same stringent safety standards as for a newborn toy which is very rare in this product category. Any product claims are always scientifically validated.”
How would you convince first time parents to choose SnoozeShade?
“I am lucky as we often get recommended by parents to other parents. One parent buys one and then raves to their friends about it and we see a flurry of sales in an area. I also work with a network of baby sleep consultants who have often used a SnoozeShade with their own children and are now recommending it to their clients. SnoozeShade is often a product parents don’t know they need until they get one and then they can’t stop telling us how much they love it. One thing that has helped is that I have become clearer on how my products meet the different needs little ones have at different ages. SnoozeShade Original is for 0-6m when baby is lying flat and it’s a fantastic alternative to a parasol as it gives maximum sun protection and helps with naps. SnoozeShade Plus or Plus Deluxe is for 6m+ or once little one is sitting up and wants to look out when awake but still needs assistance to nap when tired and out of the house. This clarity has helped more parents find the perfect SnoozeShade for them.”
Why should a retailer stock SnoozeShade?
“I prefer to work with retailers who genuinely love my products and can see the benefits they bring to parents. I don’t ask for MOQs [minimum order quantity] or state which products should be sold, I take a very collaborative approach and work with each retailer on a one-to-one basis to see what works for their customer base.”
Can you share any specific plans or developments for SnoozeShade for the year ahead?
“Yes it’s an exciting time, I had to postpone a few new products last year and they are launching this year. We have a new SnoozeShade Original with a pale pink trim, SnoozeShade Twin Deluxe launches in June for double width buggies and a completely revised version for infant car seats has literally just landed. I have also started introducing new sustainable packaging – I have wanted to get rid of the plastic for years but wanted it to also be practical and useful. I have to say I am in love with my new packaging which will biodegrade (eventually) and looks much more chic.”