Whoever follows me on Instagram knows how much we love Kippins in our household. We have muslin wraps, a playmat, book, rattles and cuddly baby comforters all through the house. I’m totally in love with Dash and had to make sure he would become Benji’s favourite. I slept with Dash in my shirt for weeks, and I can tell you it works!
What I love most about Kippins as a product is the effort and detail that goes in each item. All Kippins toys are tested to international safety standards including flammability, the mechanical and physical properties of the toy and testing of the fabrics and dyes to ensure they are 100% safe for baby to cuddle and chew. There are many products out there that won’t meet these standards and can technically not be sold as toys. I personally find it very scary to read how many products are out there that are not safe for our little ones!
Heather, the CEO and founder of Kippins is one of the most inspiring woman I can think off. She is running her bizz from the Gold Coast where she lives with her sons Tommy and Jack, husband David and their two cats. It was such an honour to interview her! Enjoy the read!
What kind of business do you run, what is your service or product?
Kippins is a story-based, eco-friendly and ethical baby range based around a group of characters called the Kippins. We have a book called the KippinTales, and we share stories with our Kippiny community through practical products that make nap-time and day-time moments easy (with a dash of magic). Our cuddle blankies, wraps, rattles, baby playmats and other products take you on a journey to the land of Kippi. It means that when you get Kippiny, you’re not just buying things, but living an entire magical story with your babies that encourages imagination, empathy and teaches them to love the planet.
Since launching in 2014, we have sent tens of thousands of Kippins off to new homes and are now available in 480 stores across 38 countries, including our own webshop Kippins.co.
How did this business come about, what inspired you?
When I was pregnant for the first time, my friends kept telling me what a miracle these little blankie things were. I liked the idea of a special friend that helped baby fall asleep without tears! When I had Jack I went on the hunt for a comforter that was cool, sustainably and ethically made. I also wanted something that was simple and natural – with no batteries, electronics or polyester fluffy bits. I couldn’t find it! So I set about designing the first Kippin in 2012 and my range was launched two years later, in 2014. We released our KippinTales book this year, written by me, which has been an amazing achievement. I am a writer by trade, and always hoped that one day I would see my books in print!
Is running your own business as you expected it to be? What is the best thing about it? What is most challenging?
It is both more magical and more challenging than I expected. The best part about it is seeing the joy that our Kippins bring to babies all over the world! We constantly get messages of support and images of babies loving their Kippins, and I absolutely love it! I also love new product development and design – that is by far my favourite part of the business. Also, I’ve learned so much! I have travelled to magical India where we produce our range and come to understand more about fabric and garment production, and how we as a society produce and consume things. I didn’t know, for example, that traditional cotton is a pesticide and water intensive crop, because it’s marketed as a ‘natural’ fibre. Or that most bamboo fabrics (bamboo rayon) emit large amounts of chemical waste during production. I’ve learned that small choices make a big environmental impact for generations, and that the things we buy and wear are made by real people who rely on us to make conscious choices.
As far as challenges, every day is a sprint. We (my Husband and a small team) work very long hours, and work extremely hard at growing our little company. As my business has grown, the challenges of running it have become more complicated which can bring a lot of stress. All of that considered though, I absolutely love Kippins, it is my heart and soul, and I feel very lucky that this is my full time job.
Do you have any tips for others who want to go down this path of running their own business?
I always say to make sure that you have a really strong business plan, and a clear point of difference in the market, but be prepared for that to change every six months. Be aware of how the marketing landscape has changed (for example, social media used to be a consistent way to grow, but that has changed), and be prepared to invest in advertising in order to get in front of the right people. Now, it’s actually quite easy to launch a brand, but it’s challenging to maintain and grow that brand in the current retail climate.
You also have to have absolute confidence in your idea. When I first started out I had a lot of people tell me that my idea wouldn’t take off. I think that founders can often see what others can’t – only you can really see the vision you have for your business. Similarly, I was told how things were ‘always’ done in this industry, and having no experience in it, a lot of these ‘always’ things didn’t make sense to me. Be prepared to be disruptive and do things differently, it will pay off.
I have been given the opportunity to give away three copies of The KippinTales! If you want to win a copy make sure you follow both Kippins and Whiteandwander, and leave a comment underneath the post where you see Benji reading his KippinsTales book. (Yes, it’s very rare to see Benji on my feed, so make sure you don’t miss him!!)
All photos provided by Kippins