Cloud Nine Baby is a brand new high street nursery boutique in Hitchin, Hertfordshire and is opening on 12th April. We had a chat this week with the owner to find out more…
Tell us a bit about Cloud Nine Baby Boutique – and why you decided to set up?
“Cloud Nine Baby is a high street nursery boutique in Hitchin, Herts. Hitchin is a lovely town with many families, so a great place to open a nursery store. I have been thinking about doing this for nearly 14 years, and for many reasons, just never found the right time. Nothing like right in the middle of a pandemic to set it up though, right?! I am very much a person who believes in having a go at what you want to in life. I would rather have a go than live life with regrets.”
What sets you apart from other nursery retailers?
“I have worked in the nursery market for 20 years and have carefully selected brands which I feel will bring something extra to the families who come into the store. We have a lovely parent consultation area, where we aim to offer the very best service to parents-to-be. We don’t have the luxury of space, given we are relatively small and on the high street, so every little bit of space really does count, which is why we have chosen not only the big brands, for the prams and nursery furniture, but also new and family brands and a selection of local suppliers for the accessories, clothing and gifts. We also have a good selection of eco products, as the audience around here really like to do their bit.
I think this combination offers the customer something really different, and makes it exclusive. We will also be offering shoe fitting, small classes in store when we can, such as first aid, baby massage and holding talks and events, but all in good time. The priority is to get the store open first!”
Tell us about your online retail presence (if applicable) – and if not, why not?
“My background is in digital marketing, so when I first set out to do this, I had grand plans of a huge website. I literally had to rein myself back in and focus on store first, then Instagram, and then the website will come shortly after. I want to grow organically and focus on service, not grow so quickly I don’t concentrate on the things that matter.”
It’s a brave time to open a shop – what have been the challenges in setting up, to date?
“I think the normal challenges that every nursery retailer will have seen, not just now but in ‘normal’ times. In fairness, the space to think and do things properly over the past few months, since I got the keys has at least given me the breathing space to get the shop and the window looking right, and has allowed me the luxury to find and select the right brands to work with. Brexit I think has caused the biggest issue, and the onset of the delays in shipping.”
What do you look for from a brand when deciding to stock their products?
“I like to have some unique and different items as well as the bigger brands. I look for brands that are willing to work with us as partners. A good margin is an obvious advantage, but also the suppliers’ willingness to help out the independents.”
Who’s your target market and how have you made the shop relevant to them?
“To start with I am really targeting the local audience within a 20 mile radius, and having lived here for nearly 17 years and as a mum of two myself, I think I have a good feel for what the market is after. However, I am not complacent and have enlisted the help and advice of some parents-to-be and new parents to check I have things right for new parents in the area.
What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
“Beyond opening the doors on the 12th, I am looking to expand the range in store, offer the shoe fitting service and classes, and get the website up and running properly. However, one step at a time! I think planning beyond this year is more difficult than ever before – we just don’t know whats around the corner.”
Top 3 favourite baby products?
“I am sitting on the fence on this one. I love all of the brands I stock, and look forward to finding many more as time goes on!”