Launched by two enterprising mums on maternity leave in 2013, Edinburgh-based Cheeky Chompers is now selling its manufactured teething aids, blankets and comforters across the globe. After being nominated for the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2016, BQ caught up with the duo to see how they made it happen.
What does your company do?
Cheeky Chompers design and manufacture innovative baby products with a difference that aim to help make parents lives just that little bit easier.
In 2013 two Edinburgh mumpreneurs, Julie Wilson and Amy Livingstone founded Cheeky Chompers. While on maternity leave they spotted a gap in the market for an attached teething product and the world’s first Chewy dribble bib, the Neckerchew was born.
Their innovative teething comforter, the Comfortchew was launched in September 2014 and a beautiful collaborative range with the British designer Joules was launched in October 2014.
In April 2015, they adapted their products for the special needs market. Cheeky Chompers successfully launched two new innovative products (Chewy the hippo teether and the innovative Cheeky Blanket) to market in December 2015.
How long has the company been exporting?
We started exporting within the first three months of launching our product by selling internationally on-line and then following a trade show, appointed distributors in Benelux, Germany, Hong Kong and Taiwan within the first six months. Over the last two and half years we have appointed 27 more distributors across the world.
What do you currently export, and where to?
We currently export all our products through our distributors in 31 countries. Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Russia, Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, UAE, Philippines, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, South Africa, Japan, Ireland, Germany , Austria, Slovenia , Slovakia, Croatia, France, Singapore, Malaysia, Greece, Hungary, South America, South Korea
We also sell internationally on cheeky chompers.com and through Amazon.com, Amazon.fr. Amazon.it and Amazon.de
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
When we launched our first product it was a world's first and we knew that it was important for us to maximise our first to market position in key markets across the world. We have been overwhelmed by the interest and performance of our overseas markets with 65% of our total sales being export sales. Some markets were quicker than others, but it’s vital to really understand what works best in a market in terms of language, packaging, safety testing requirements, social, marketing plans, positioning , route to market etc and some take a lot of time just to get it right before launch.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
Easiest part is once set up and selling the distributor takes a lot of the responsibility to get your products out in their market – it is in their interest to promote, push, grow sales and they provide the resource staff and time to deliver. Volume can be achieved in a number of markets concurrently as a result.
And the most challenging part?
The most challenging part is managing the brand as it grows in different markets and ensuring safety testing requirements are constantly met for all markets. IP coverage is also a challenge once you start exporting too.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
We had to develop our packaging and care labels in different languages and in some markets they require totally sealed packaging, others don’t. Our Products are made in the UK and we have that on all our packaging apart from the USA and CANDA where we have made in Scotland and find both statements work as a real stamp of quality and a fantastic USP internationally
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
Yes we had support from SDI, Scottish Enterprise and UKTI to initially do an international strategy workshop and export course, then attend international trade fairs, translations, market appraisals, financial reviews of potential distributors etc yes very helpful.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Do it! – Exporting is a fantastic way to help expand your market and sales potential at pace. But do your homework, chose the right partners and manage your brand!
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?
We need to continue to work with our existing distributors in our 31 countries to grow their market and continue the launch of our 2 new products and new designs.
We have just appointed a South Korean Distributor and are working with them on the detailed adaptations we need on the packaging, testing etc and we are looking to appoint a Chinese distributor in 2016.
Cheeky Chompers want to be THE go to brand for baby products across the world for products that are stylish, practical, quality and have that certain ‘wish I’d have thought of that ‘innovative twist!
Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the HSBC Scottish Export Awards are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.