Jodine Boothby always knew she had an entrepreneurial streak. Over the years she had embarked on many small business ventures but the reality of needing to pay the bills had kept her confined most of her working life to a job on a factory floor making the traditional Cornish pasties of her home county.
It was on maternity leave that Jodine had a light bulb moment and joined the ranks of the parentpreneur with the launch of Gummee Glove.
The idea for Gummee Glove first came about when Jodine noticed that Jimmy, her ten week old first born was gnawing at his hands. Jimmy had started teething very early but his motor skills were not developed enough to hold onto a teething toy.
By chance, while changing his nappy, Jodine saw Jimmy happily nibbling on a sock that was covering his hand to stop him scratching his face (as most parents know, scratch mittens are just too loose to stay in place).
Jodine searched online for a teething mitten to buy but no such product existed. However, Jodine uncovered hundreds of other parents asking for advice and recommendations for teething mittens on parenting forums. This was Jodine’s opportunity! She realised she had her business idea and after commissioning an intellectual property search, decided to make the world’s first teething mitten.
Jodine didn’t have any funds to invest so she sold her jewellery, borrowed from friends and mocked up the original designs and drawings herself. After getting in touch with an innovation company and being advised that it would cost £50,000 to get the product to launch stage, Jodine took matters into her own hands and after 12 solid hours of internet research one night found a respected Chinese manufacturer willing to make samples for £130.
Jodine’s experience of working in a factory proved invaluable. It meant she knew all the right questions to ask, understood the process and also how to get the best out of her supplier.
To test the market, Jodine took her prototype to a local baby show and was overwhelmed by the number of parents and grandparents trying to buy the product. This gave her the confidence to move forward with her plans and give the factory the green light to start work on the first order.
In May 2012, while pregnant with her second child, Jodine held her official launch at a national trade show in Birmingham. It went well and Jodine continued to attend national baby shows throughout the next year driving awareness of her product, receiving direct orders and securing wholesale interest nationally and internationally.
Recognising the importance of marketing and public relations, Jodine taught herself the basics from books and invested a lot of time in social media, building industry contacts and securing mutually beneficial partnerships.
By early 2013, Jodine had started to think more about international expansion and it was while she was researching which global baby shows to attend that she discovered the DIT website and the support they offered to businesses of all sizes.
Remedy for Success
With funding support from DIT, Gummee Glove attended the world’s largest international baby product trade show in Las Vegas.
It was during this event that Jodine met her US distributor who was looking for a teething product to add to their range of goods. However, they wanted changes made to the original Gummee Glove. They were after a silicone based product rather than the traditional BPA plastic normally used in baby products. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Jodine went back to the drawing board and worked with the factory to come up with a workable silicone recipe. It took two years to perfect but was rewarded when the distributor placed Gummee Glove’s biggest ever order for 5,000 units in July 2015.
It was such a successful change to the product that Jodine decided to adopt it for all Gummee Gloves and not just the US range. This change was well ahead of the curve in terms of UK trends and gave Jodine a significant first mover advantage in her home market.
Although Gummee Glove was getting approached by many international distributors, Jodine saw the value of continuing to work with DIT to undertake research, develop an expansion strategy and to ensure that every partner chosen was the best possible option in her key markets.
“Through DIT we attended many international baby shows that gave us exposure to many distributors based all over the world. They also helped us identify which markets we should focus on and where the biggest opportunities exist. The research has also helped us avoid costly mistakes. For instance, France is a difficult market to crack so we haven’t rushed in to this market and we’ve taken our time to get our strategy right. However, Finland, Sweden and Norway operate very much like the UK and so we’ve been able to grain traction quickly,” said Jodine.
“Jodine is both prudent and ambitious and wanted to get to grips with as many international markets while minimising the risk. We were able to take much of the legwork out of the process for her and help her gain quick access to market insight and research. This has given her a significant competitive advantage internationally and as an outcome, has set her up for further growth in her home market as well. Jodine is able to think strategically and has developed from being a novice to an experienced exporter in a record amount of time. She always responds quickly to new business opportunities and there is a lot of mutual trust and cooperation between DIT and Gummee Glove. We continue to work with Gummee Glove as they develop new products and we support her in identifying new markets,” said Trevor Horne, International Trade Advisor.
A Family Business
Now just over three years old, the company has a presence in US, Norway, Finland, South Korea, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and China. The turnover for 2015/16 was £325,000 and a conservative forecast of £700,000 is in place for 2016/17. The product is sold directly as well as via respected retailers such as Amazon and JoJo Maman Bebe in the UK and Toys R Us (in Canada) .
In 2015, Jodine was nominated Mumpreneur Of The Year by the Daily Mail, in association with NatWest and continues to receive high profile recognition and product awards.
In 2016 the company will launch 4 new products and has plans to position and market itself as the leading expert on teething in the baby product category.
Jodine’s team is now 6 strong and is a family affair, with Jodine’s husband recently joining the company to support the running of the business. Despite many investors showing interest in Gummee Glove, Jodine has decided to retain full ownership of her growing enterprise.