Bulldog’s Simon Duffy: “Organic Monkey must do it their own way”

Simon Duffy describes his mentoring sessions with competition winner Organic Monkey

Earlier this year Growing Business asked me to take part in a competition offering mentoring to an up-and-coming business. The competition winner Organic Monkey, sells organic and Fairtrade skincare products for babies and toddlers. Please take a look at www.organicmonkey.co.uk for more information.

For my second mentoring meeting I made the trip to sunny Brighton to meet Organic Monkey founders Heidi and Claudine. Over smoothies and a few coffees (we’re all new parents) we spent some more time talking through the busy early stages that every start-up will face. My experience with Bulldog meant I was able to answer practical questions regarding sourcing packaging for natural products, as well as sharing Bulldog’s various experiences across internet sales and PR.

The main focus of this meeting, however, was the need for structure and solid business planning. We talked through the key elements that make up a good business plan and put these in the context of what Heidi and Claudine want to achieve in the next three years. They already have a version of this document, although perhaps a few areas might need some more work. A great business plan will help them to make the most effective use of their time, set some targets, and ensure there is clarity on exactly what direction they want their company to go. Heidi and Claudine agreed to work on a revised version of their business plan for our next meeting.

We also discussed how best to approach sales meetings. This is a key focus for Heidi and Claudine, who would like to build up the distribution for their range. For obvious reasons it’s vitally important that you make a professional impression during any meeting with a buyer. I showed Heidi and Claudine a typical Bulldog sales presentation which tells the Bulldog story, explains what makes our brand and products unique and exciting, and shows how we fit into the male skincare market.

The natural and organic baby skincare market is already established, so I want Organic Monkey to really think through what separates their company from competitors such as Green Baby and Weleda. A key part of this will be understanding where each of their products sits versus equivalent options from other brands, and also making sure that all of Organic Monkey’s products fit into the overall vision for the brand.

I particularly like the Cheeky Monkey Teething Balm. Firstly we have been using this with my own daughter and it’s great. Secondly this product looks like it could be a unique idea without obvious competition from other natural brands. It’s also something that could potentially appeal to all new parents as every baby will encounter teething pains at some point. Perhaps this could become the hero product in Organic Monkey’s range and something that all serious retailers of natural skincare for infants should consider listing. We’ll be reviewing the role that each Organic Monkey product plays in our next meeting together.

It will be really important for Claudine and Heidi to approach all of this in their own way. They are a terrific team with great energy. I like their genuine personality and their commitment to Fairtrade products. This particular market seems to thrive on recommendations from blogs and other mums, so it’s important that their personality shines through in everything they do. I set Heidi and Claudine a goal; to become the natural infant skincare brand most recommended by mums. If they can combine sound business planning and professional sales tools, with their already excellent products, I believe they’re going to take a great first step in this direction.

Simon Duffy is the co-founder of £2.4m turnover male grooming brand Bulldog, which successfully exports its natural skincare range to Scandinavia and the US. www.meetthebulldog.com

The Growing Business mentoring scheme launched earlier this year.

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