Summit 2018: Cheeky Chompers – Our Journey

Amy Livingstone and Julie Wilson started award winning nursery brand Cheeky Chompers when they were on maternity leave with their first children. Julie Wilson shares with us their inspiration, award winning global success, challenges and top tips!

Amy Livingstone and Julie Wilson started award winning nursery brand Cheeky Chompers when they were on maternity leave with their first children. Julie Wilson shares with us their inspiration, award winning global success, challenges and top tips!

Amy and I were lucky to meet at our antenatal class with our first babies however we never imagined we'd set up a business together soon after! The business came out of our experiences when our babies were teething and we were constantly picking up and sterilising dropped teethers – ‘Why doesn’t someone invent a teether that stays attached to the baby’ we thought…..

We launched the World’s first chewy dribble bib the Neckerchew in 2013 and haven’t looked back! We make all our fabric products in the UK and have designed a range of stylish and innovative everyday parenting essentials to make parents’ lives that little bit easier. All our products are practical, attachable, machine washable and stringently tested to worldwide standards. 

Our award winning Cheeky Chompers range is now nine products strong, offering the Neckerchew, Comfortchew, Neckerbib, Chewy the teething hippo, the Cheeky Blanket and an adaptation of our Neckerchew for older children and adults with oral sensory stimulation needs. In 2017 we launched the Muslin Collection comprising four innovative products made from 100% super soft organic muslin: Neckerchew, Neckerbib, Comforter and our latest innovation the MultiMuslin, one beautiful teething muslin with six clever uses. We launch stylish new designs every Spring and Autumn and we have just launched our latest product Attach & Chew silicone teething rings.

We appeared on Dragons’ Den 11 weeks in to business with the Neckerchew and whilst the dragons loved the product they did not believe our projections. When it aired a year later we benefited from a fantastic PR boost and traffic to our website had an astonishing uplift during and after the broadcast. It’s amazing the recognition that early appearance has brought us.We’re pleased to say that we smashed all the figures the Dragons’ dismissed within a year of business so we’re one of the ones that got away!

We founded the business with our own funds and support from friends and family and continued to fund our growth from company profits, with no external investment. We’ve enjoyed rapid growth and are delighted to have sold more than one million Cheeky Chompers products around the world.  We are the baby gift of choice in many high street stores such as John Lewis, JoJoMamanBebe, Boots and overseas export accounts for over 70% of our turnover as we export to 36 countries with the USA, China, Taiwan and Australia being our largest.Our most recent highlight was being honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the UK’s highest accolade for business success.  We never expected a trip to Buckingham Palace when we started out during our maternity leave!

However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing. Neither of us had backgrounds in retail and it has been a steep learning curve understanding barcodes, pallets, MOQ’s and the export documentation!  We invested heavily in IP and then successfully gained first to market positioning in key markets, but have had many battles enforcing our IP.We have fought hard to manufacture our products here in the UK and maintaining a market appropriate price is a constant consideration and we work hard to constantly innovate, refresh and stay one step ahead which means you can never get to the end of the to do list! All that coupled with a growing team, 2 on maternity leave and our young children and families it’s all about effective juggling. Running your own business is certainly not the easy option - but definitely very rewarding!

It’s so important for us to continue to support Entrepreneurial Scotland and to encourage future entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, even if it isn’t always the easy option.  For Scotland, entrepreneurs and their successful ventures can create new jobs, open up markets, increase international trade and create innovations to help society forward. We have loved developing our own business and team, creating opportunities for new products, new customers and new markets. Our journey has been an exciting one and way exceeded any expectations we had. The pace and challenges of running a fast growing company is really motivating as is the constant feedback from happy customers. Five years into business we go from strength to strength with exciting new designs launching this year and further expansion into China... watch this space.

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STV and Entrepreneurial Scotland have joined forces to launch a new initiative celebrating entrepreneurship across Scotland. The 2018 Summit Entrepreneurship Awards will showcase inspirational stories which explore the entrepreneurial mindset, illustrate brilliance and highlight the value to our country’s economy and broader society. STV and Entrepreneurial Scotland are calling on innovators, visionaries and game-changers – no matter what stage they are at in their journey – to come forward and take part. 
 
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