Nimble is an exciting brand of plant-based household cleaning products, specially designed to clean things like baby bottles, high chairs, clothes, cloth nappies, and more. We had a chat with founder, Von Sy, to find out more about what makes them special. Here’s what he had to say…
Tell us about Nimble. When and why did you set up the business?
We launched our first product, the Milk Buster Baby Bottle Cleaner, back in 2015. This came about when my sister was telling me about my niece’s milk bottles going cloudy and smelling of either spoilt milk or of strong washing-up liquid. Being a chemist myself, I thought I could come up with a product that solves this issue.
And since I got into the world of babies through Milk Buster, I now realise that there is a gap in the market for high efficacy, plant-based cleaning products for children’s things.
That’s how we ended up doing more in this area by expanding our range of products to help parents clean up after their little ones.
What’s it been like since you started?
It took me a while to figure out the world of business after I launched the first product in 2015.
I only had one product until 2017 and I was quite naïve to think that I could make a proper business out of one product alone; I was slow to realise I needed more products in the range.
But, in 2018, things started to pick up here in the UK, after I launched Sticky Stopper Antibacterial Cleaner and Laundry Lover Baby Detergent, as well as investing in a rebrand.
We first got into Ocado. Then a few months later on Boots.com, then into Boots stores, and now we’re in Sainsbury’s too. And we’re also available on Amazon and our own website. Plus we’re exporting to 6 other countries… who knew this could happen!
It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride and I’ve had my fair share of rejections and defeats. But thank God for small victories here and there that have carried me through the tough times and confirmed my belief that there is something worth pushing in Nimble.
What are you most proud of?
I have lots to be proud of such as retailer listings, patents, our Dragons’ Den feature, beautiful messages from our customers and more. But one that is stuck in my heart is my recent conversation with the owner of the factory we’re working with.
I was surprised to hear that we are their biggest customer in 2020. I didn’t realise that Nimble was able to keep a factory going through this pandemic… it was only a crazy idea I had many years ago but now it’s providing employment for our factory and the many teams we’re working with.
And what do you wish someone had told you when you started?
I wish someone had told me that it was going to be a very, very, very tough gig. I think I’ve been warned, but I didn’t realise how hard it is until I had already made the jump.
It’s also an ever-evolving venture… once you overcome one challenge, you’ll have another one to face and conquer.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
We’ve had many challenges including having extremely limited stocks in the first three months of the pandemic as we couldn’t get raw and packaging materials in, and the factory needed to reduce operations.
I remember that it was just a dreadful experience – being stuck at home but having to solve problems remotely and figure out how to get more products made.
We also suffered sales decline in some of our retailers due to lower footfall in their stores. But overall, despite the supply and retail sales challenges, I think it’s been positive for us because everyone is very much aware of the need for cleanliness and hygiene.
We were also able to work out new processes in the business that allows us to cope with these kinds of events better in the future. Also, our e-commerce sales have grown threefold this year, which has offset the sales decline in retail.
What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
We are looking to grow the business to three times its size in 2021 by really focusing our efforts on e-commerce, growing in retail, and also launching more new products.
We are also hoping that more and more new parents will get to know Nimble through our nationwide sampling programme.
What’s important about the relationship between brands and retailers, and what do you offer that’s special?
The relationship between brands and retailers is getting redefined with the acceleration of e-commerce channels, particularly during the pandemic. Brands are now able to reach customers through very clever digital strategies.
But overall it is a very complex relationship and one party cannot really exist without the other. Retailers need a great range of brands to attract customers, and brands need retailers because it gives a certain credibility to the brand and visibility.
With Nimble, we offer retailers a unique range of products that solve a specific customer need.
Most retailers, particularly in the nursery sector, sell clothes, prams, bottles, and other things that children use. But there’s a huge opportunity to upsell and increase basket size by offering customers cleaning products that can help them take care of the expensive and precious things they buy for their children.