Hippychick has been bringing baby and child products to the market since 1999, with hundreds of practical solutions to daily problems, with many of the products their own invention. We caught up Founder, Julia Minchin, to find out more:
You founded the bestselling HipSeat over 20 years ago. Did you ever imagine it would evolve into the business that is Hippychick today?
“We have never done things by halves. Until we had our first child, we had always worked for other people and Jeremy had been in the Metropolitan Police. My dream was always to have my own business, and to be master of my own destiny. So I dived into it, right from day one. But of course, I couldn’t have done it by myself. The success of Hippychick today is due to Jeremy and the Hippychick team working incredibly hard through thick and thin to bring us to where we are today.”
What are your core business foundations – and your greatest business achievements so far?
“The foundations for the business are rooted in our range of exceptional products which all represent very distinctly Hippychick’s core values – quality and innovation combined with effortless functionality.
Having good people is of course core to our business, too. And we have an incredible team, some of whom have been with us since the early days! Having a warehouse space where we could house lots of stock has always been key to our business strategy. And it proved to be the right thing to do, particularly during the Pandemic, when many businesses were struggling with supply chains while we had mountains of stock in the warehouse and ready to ship. Greatest business achievement – reaching 21 years in business, making a genuine difference to parents with young children, and surviving Brexit and the pandemic!”
How has the baby industry as a whole changed since Hipseat was first launched?
“The primary reason for starting the Hippychick business was because there appeared to be a gap in the market for products that really made life easier with a baby. I suffered intermittently from back pain and simply couldn’t find anything that really worked for me when carrying my son – inspiring the Hippychick Hipseat which was a revelation in the market place at that time. The market is very different now. Products have just got so much more slick, smarter and easier to use. Of course, the addition of technology has changed things dramatically but we have steadfastly chosen not to take Hippychick down that route. I don’t believe that toddlers will ever benefit more from playing on a mobile phone than they will with a traditional toy which encourages creativity, stimulates their imagination and promotes healthy physical and mental development.”
It’s a crowded market, what does a NEW nursery brand need to do, to get noticed?
“It simply has to have stand out qualities – not only well designed, coupled with innovation and high functionality, but also having a genuine story behind the brand makes a big difference for new parents.”
As a distributor, what are the main trends you’ve seen parents embracing – and how has this changed during 2020/21?
“Parents are just so busy these days, multi tasking to keep up with the pace of life that’s accelerated so dramatically since we had our children. What they seem to embrace most for themselves are products that help them to run their lives more efficiently. And we tick that box with our range of parenting essentials. But they don’t necessarily want this for their children. During the pandemic, we saw a dramatic surge in demand for our traditional toy ranges, in particularly our wooden Classic World toy Range which offers healthy play opportunities for small children at a keen price.”
What do you enjoy about being in the baby business? – and what are your top three favourite baby products (other than Hipseat!)?
“The people. we have an extraordinary team of enthusiastic and dedicated individuals all of whom have a genuine love for the brand. And it’s also a really lovely industry to work in, too. We have met so many characters over the years, many of whom have become close friends. It is great to meet up with the at trade fairs – we have really missed them this year. Favourite products? Always the wheelybugs, our waterproofs as they get children out and about whatever the weather, and at the moment I really love our Dena toy range. It is eye catching, tactile and innovative. There is a new product in the range about to launch, Dena Diversity, which helps children learn about different skin tones. They are never too young to learn about diversity – and Dena allows them to start from a very young age. In my book that can only be a positive thing.”
The combination of freight delays, pandemic and Brexit have made for a gloomy time for distributors and retailers; have you witnessed anything positive for the industry coming out of the past year?
“Hippychick has been extremely fortunate to have done well during the Pandemic. We had the right products for a nation of parents who were suddenly plunged into the role of educator as well as parent. Our traditional toys really delivered for them. That said, we currently have a ship which has been anchored off Southampton for two weeks with an urgent container for John Lewis! For the industry? We have been promised that lockdown will result in a baby boom which will be of benefit to all of us. We are primed and ready!”
What plans are in store for Hippychick for the year ahead (if you are happy to share them!)?
“We are adding to our sales team to provide an even better service to all our retailers – as soon as the country opens up Alan and Mike will be out to see everyone as much as they can. We have some exciting new products coming in this year too – so watch this space!”