Didi + Bud: Becky Hodges

Inspired by a "mums in business" vibe on social media, this former client relationship manager created her own ethical childrens clothing line

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Name: Becky Hodges
Company name: Didi + Bud
Location: South East
Twitter handle: @didiandbud
Website: www.didiandbud.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

Didi + Bud designs and illustrates minimalist, crisp white sleepwear for the modern mini.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I started Didi + Bud out of a desire to create the purest of bedtimes with beautiful and safe clothing for my little ones. I wanted bedtime prints that were a little bit different. Prints which were true, and aligned to the fact that Didi + Bud is 100% made in England. I’ve grown to love design led, minimalist children’s clothes and I wanted to see this in sleepwear.

Furthermore, I felt it was important to highlight the home grown nature of my products and our commitment to British based manufacturing and ideals – so decided to pick a co.uk domain name for the website. I’ve found people do notice it, and it embodies the beliefs of the brand.

All of my items are designed, illustrated and manufactured in England, using only 100% OEKO tex certified cotton and “phalite free” inks, and achieving this was really important to me. I wanted to support the British manufacturer and be socially and ethically conscious of all of my decisions.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I’ve seen a growing trend on social media, Instagram in particular, where small businesses are wholeheartedly supported. There’s a real “mums in business” vibe and it’s so inspiring. That didn’t mean there would automatically be a market for my designs, but I felt there was a gap for a modern twist on quintessentially English designs which aligned classic colours with unisex and monochrome design.

What were you doing before starting up?

I’d been in finance as a client relationship manager for years. I was back at work after my second baby, and I just felt it was the right time to branch out on my own. I needed something with more meaning and personal results and above all, I needed to be in charge of the time I was able to spend with my children.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, but I’d never actually known what in, until I became a mum and something just clicked.

How did you raise the money?

Savings – my partner has also lent me £3,000 which he’ll be expecting back soon!

Describe your business model and how you make money:

At the moment, every single penny is going straight back in to building the collection. I’m focusing on releasing new collections / prints every three months.

I’m branching in to bedding next, but I’m also working to keep one step ahead with my prints and create designs which people look forward to seeing.

Customer retention is paramount to me – I already have several loyal customers who own every print. People like this not only boost sales, but my confidence in my product hugely.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Work/life balance – although this has always been something I’ve wanted to achieve; it’s taking time to adjust. As a mum to a three-and-a-half-year-old and a one-year-old, my days are pretty hectic. Building a business through social media, means that customers want to be able to contact you 24/7. That’s great in the sense that I can work all hours of the night, but it’s also hard to not be constantly working – but then what new business owner isn’t constantly working?

Production times have also been a challenge, I come from a corporate background where everything is urgent and needs to be done right away – that’s not possible in the world of manufacturing when you work with a small team who also work sensible hours. Their overall work ethic however, is one of the reasons I work with them.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Definitely my first wholesale order!

To know that there are other businesses out there which are able to make a profit from my designs and creations, is just amazing. At the moment, I walk to the post office on a daily basis, it would be amazing to think that in time, some of the sales can be managed directly by my stockists and I can offer better shipping for my international customers.

The brand is growing outside of the UK and it needs to – I ship a large percentage outside and I’d like that to be more cost effective and quicker for my customers.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Without being too ruthless, follow your own instincts and push ahead where you feel it’s right. Know your products inside out so that you can believe in them and have faith in them. There will be good days and bad days, learn from the bad ones and make them good ones.

Also, believe in your self – you are capable of doing the things you never thought you could. The thought of building a website was initially quite daunting – but it turned out not to be too taxing at all.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I would love to have significantly expanded the Didi + Bud range and be stocked in some of the greats. I would also love to have a team of people behind me who were able to be passionate and flexible in their approach to work and their work life balance.

My dream is we will be a brand of influence, one which uses its network to promote conscious manufacturing, ethical products and healthy lifestyles for children.

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