Mumpreneur Profile: Fiona Wood of Naturally Cool Kids

Name of business: Naturally Cool Kids

Your name and age: Fiona Wood, 34

Tell us about your family:

I am married to David, who is a director and partner of a health supplement manufacturing company, hence the reason for my interest within the health industry. We have two children Finlay, four, and Rhys, 15. We are lucky that most of our week is spent working together from home. Our eldest son is leaving school for college this year and our youngest has just begun full time education, so it’s all change in the house of Wood.

What did you do before coming up with the business idea?

I have been a stay at home mum for many years. Before this I was a reflexologist and beautician.  I had been considering what I would like to do when Finlay started full time school and how I could fit something in that would still allow me the freedom to be at home after school and for all the times when my children were home and needed me. Finlay has had more than his fair share of coughs and colds and I had to use petroleum based products to ease his breathing, but as I had always used natural products on him I felt that I was having to compromise when he was under the weather.  I researched the natural industry and found lots of companies selling natural bottom balms, oils and lotions but trying to find alternative cold products and summer protection was a nightmare. This is when I decided why not create my own range of all-natural skin protections and winter soothers.

When did you launch?

I will be launching Naturally Cool Kids at the Nursery Trade Fair in Harrogate later this month. I am so excited about showcasing my products to the biggest buyers within the children’s sector.

How did you start?

I was fed up of having to compromise with chemical-laden products at certain times of year and I wanted to create products that were fun for children to use but also offered parents peace of mind. As all parents will agree, children don’t like to have products applied to their skin and they like to be independent and apply things themselves! I planned on launching only two products initially but then I took a chance and entered my idea in to the Barclays Take One Small Step competition in 2010, which selects the best business idea (as voted for by members of the public) and awards them £50,000 to get it off the ground. There were 650,000 votes in total and when I was announced as the overall winner in the North West region I was astounded. It was the most fantastic feeling knowing that I could now bring my ideas to parents who were looking for an alternative and make the brand come to life on a much larger scale. I decided to increase the launch collection range from two products to six and Naturally Cool Kids was born.

What research did you do before launching?

I researched the natural industry and found lots of companies selling natural bottom balms, oils and lotions but there were no alternative cold products or summer skin protection products. This is when I decided to create my own range! I spent many months working with a local company who showed me how to make the products and provide me with all the necessary information and confidence to approach manufacturers and explain my idea and the products I wanted to create in much more detail.  I spoke to a large number of parents asking to discover their likes and dislikes and how my range could make life easier for parents and children.

How have you funded the business?

I was going to self-fund the business to start with, but when I went forward to the final of the Barclays competition, and subsequently won it, they provided me with the funds to set the business up on a much larger and professional scale. This funding has made such a difference to the Naturally Cool Kids brand and we are sure to launch with a big brand look for such a small company.

How do you promote your business? What has worked the best?

Our preparations to launch are well underway and we decided the best way to promote ourselves was to bring a PR agency onboard with specialist knowledge of the baby and children’s industry. Azaria are now in charge of our PR and are creating a buzz about the brand and products. They are working closely with me to spread the Naturally Cool Kids word as much as possible. I will also be launching the website at the end of March, which will be a great way for people to find out all about NCK and the products.

What has worked well about the business?

Deciding on the branding has been an amazing experience and the design team that helped bring my ideas to life understood exactly what image I wanted to create. They created the Naturally Cool Kids character, NiCK, who will play a huge part in our promotions and will be present on all packaging and in promotional material.  The whole image is just as I had dreamt it to be and I am sure from the reactions I have gauged so far that it is going to be very well received.

What has been the biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?

The biggest challenge has to have been coordinating all aspects of the business in such a short space of time, with limited help. I have had great support from my family and with David working within the industry his help has been vital.  I have a very close friend Rebecca who has taken care of all my copywriting and taken on many jobs I haven’t had time to do like award entries, brochures and attending shows with me to research the industry. I most definitely could not have got through it all without them both. I never realised how much there would be to organise in such little time but now that we are ready for the launch I have created a routine to keep everything in order.

How do you fit in work with the family?

My family has always come first and I have been lucky enough to have stayed at home with both of my children for a considerable amount of their childhood. As my business is currently run from an office at home I am still able to work around them both.  I am here to take them to school and then pick them up.  David also works from home half of the week so we can swap between work and family to allow the balance to continue.  I am always there after school and tend to get some more work done after Finlay has gone to bed. I am so lucky to have the best of both worlds.

What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?

Research! Look at what other people are doing and create something different.  Don’t just follow the crowd and do what has already been done. This industry has had so much growth and certain areas are swamped with companies all doing the same thing.  Buyers want to see innovation and a company that will bring a breath of fresh air to the industry.

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