Naturally Cool Kids: Fiona Wood
The founder of the children’s skincare range on launching from home, and winning £50,000 from a Barclays start-up competition
Company name: Naturally Cool Kids Founders: Fiona Wood Age: 34 Based: Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire Staff Numbers: 1 Date started: set up July 2010 official launch March 2011
Tell us what your business does NCK is a natural summer and winter skincare range for children of all ages. The six products we launched with are vapour stick, lip and cheek protector, sun cream, after sun and bug bands.
Where did the idea for your business come from? My husband has his own vitamin and mineral supplement manufacturing business and we have been in the industry for a decade. After our second child was born I wanted to create a job that would fit around him. I always used natural products on him but when he became ill with recurrent colds and chest infections I had to compromise my skincare for petroleum based products as there was little in the way of natural alternatives that appealed. Also when it came to our holidays there weren't many options for skincare there either. I then realised if I was having this problem then surely other parents were too.
How did you know there was a market for it? I entered the Barclays Take One Small Step competition early in 2010 and won with my idea in the North West region. This competition was a four week public vote after the judges had narrowed the entries down. 650,000 people voted for the 10 regional winners around the country, proving that I had definitely hit on something. What were you doing before starting up? I worked for an estate agency many years ago then left to look after my first son Rhys, who is now 16. I am a qualified reflexologist and beautician and have a strong understanding of how natural products are made.
Have you always wanted to run your own business? I have always wanted to work or myself. I come from a self-employed family and the emphasis was always about working together, and this is what I want to create in my family. I have never liked to take instructions from other people, so working for myself is the perfect option. I tried other small set ups and played around with many ideas before now. I think trying beforehand has definitely helped me to succeed with this business.
How did you raise the money? Initially I was going to launch two products on my own and grow very slowly. But when I won £50,000 with Barclays it enabled me to create six products that look great and sit really well with each other. I would like to grow the business organically and not have to borrow. We are keeping a look out for any relevant grants but other than that we will take it one step at a time. I've never had to approach anyone for money which is great.
How have you promoted your business? I found a PR company in January this year they are still working with us to secure editorial in all of the main publications and national press. PR is expensive for a small business but I feel it is essential to get the brand out there. I have paid for some advertisements in the trade press but they are extremely expensive and I will be avoiding this for a while until we feel the need to do it again. We are appearing at The Baby Show in Birmingham at the NEC for three days. This will be the first time the public will have had the chance to get their hands on the products.
What about staff? I don't currently employ any staff. I have a very good friend, who works on a self-employed basis for me, who does all my copywriting, creates leaflets, adverts, web copy and any other work I need doing. She is very hands on within the business helping us out at the shows and coming up with new ideas. I do feel that within the next 12 months staff will need to be employed, which I am sure will complicate things but will be necessary for our growth.
Where do you want to be in five years' time? I would like to grow the company, introducing the other products we have in the pipeline. We would like to be selling both into Europe and worldwide, spreading the word about NCK. I have no intentions of selling NCK but who knows, in five years' time if the right offer came along I would by lying if I said I wouldn't consider it.