March 01, 2021
It’s a long one, so grab a hot cuppa and get comfy 😉
Chapter 1 – Becoming a Mum
The day I became a Mum for the very first time was a day that would change the course of the rest of my life, more than I could ever have imagined!
Here’s Teddy, the very reason by Sofie exists! the baby the nurses affectionately named ‘The Disney Prince’. With his almond eyes and his Wella-Shock-Waves hair, it is fair to say that he’s been stealing hearts since day dot.
Chapter 2 – The lightbulb moment
It was about 6 months into my maternity leave, from a then 12-year career in Recruitment & HR, that I had what I can only really describe as one of life's significant moments.
I was sat in my living room, tired, hungry, and quite possibly still in my PJ’s. I was loving being a Mum, but I looked around at the home I had so passionately and painstakingly designed, and it had been taken over. I no longer recognised myself, or my home! Every corner was covered in baby tat, large bulky items that were rarely used and that my baby seemed to grow out of as quickly as we were buying them. There was stuff EVERYWHERE, products I had bought largely out of a sheer lack of choice or alternatives.
I could not really understand how the baby industry, at least in the UK, had so little to offer parents looking for alternatives to plastic, and baby products with style.
I had wanted to try and avoid plastic where I could with my babies, not just because I hate the look of plastic, but also because it is just SO bad for the planet and our health too. The whole idea of toxic plastics going into our babies mouths, and then going to land fill and washing up on beaches, it just didn’t sit well with me!
And so...I started doing what all budding entrepreneurs do, I hit google search HARD! Many late-night feeds were spent trawling the internet. I searched high and low for a wooden baby bouncer, because the one we had, (which all the Mums I knew had bought and loathed) was just such an eye-sore, and not particularly well designed either! I was surprised to discover that nothing existed.
Chapter 3 – It started with a list on a scrap of paper
And so, right there, whilst feeding my baby on the sofa, I wrote a list of all the things as a Mum with a keen interest in design, and a desire to invest in more natural, planet friendly products, I could not find! It was a pretty long list and one that I am still adding to today.
And in that moment by Sofie was born.
Chapter 4 – Turning the big idea onto a reality ….
It was 20 months after ‘The list’ that my second baby, Reggie, arrived.
And once again, whilst feeding my new baby, I looked at the market to see if anyone had addressed the gap that that had been there 20 months ago, and to my surprise, they hadn’t.
I finally plucked up the courage to do something about this thing, if no one else was going to do it, why not me????
It was September 2018, I decided to hand in my notice from Barclays where I was VP in HR, so I could focus on launching Little Hoppa and growing my own product-based business. By then, my side-hustle styling and content creation business @threeboysandapinkbath had taken off, and was just about keeping me afloat whilst I invested into my big idea!
The 2 years that followed were fraught with challenge! It took 18 months of back and forth with a team of engineers, multiple manufacturers, countless samples and trips around the globe before we finally got it right.
We sold the London home that my husband and I had spent 5 year painstakingly renovating, to fund the deposit of our first Little Hoppa order (yes he is still married to me…just about LOL).
And then just as we were about to commence manufacturing of our first order…
Chapter 5 - The course never runs smoothly
BOOM - BREXIT
BOOM - CORONA VIRUS
It was a devastating blow. Our factory closed for 3 months, and we had no idea when or even if they would ever re-open. Our deposits had been paid, (from the sales of our house EEEEK), money had been spent on websites, marketing, imagery, videos, samples, we were ALL IN, in a VERY BIG way!
We suddenly found ourselves in a pretty desperate situation, with no opportunity to start selling the product and no real idea what lay ahead.
Chapter 6 - The reddotaward – the light at the end of tunnel
In April 2020, around the time we got the news of our factory closing as a result of Corna-virus, I made the decision to put Little Hoppa forward to the reddot design awards as a pre-launched, design concept.
This is an award that is truly respected within the world of product design, with previous winners including the likes of :
These were serious companies, with huge teams of designers who might work their entire career to achieve the coveted, reddot, seal of approval. But in the back of my mind, despite being an unknown brand and an unknown designer, I knew that we had created something really really special, and sitting on my hands, watching the world fall apart, what did I have to lose anyway?!
So, I entered.
Chapter 7 - The email …
Little Hoppa crowned the winner - Reddot best-of-the-best ‘world class, ground-breaking design for childhood’ by Sofie!
When the email came through in late summer 2020 I cried a lot. I screamed so loud I woke up my two sleeping babies. The feeling, to be honest was pride mixed with relief, relief that I was not insane, that I hadn’t risked my families livelihood and home on something that was just a pipedream!
20 of the worlds very best designers had deemed Little Hoppa, the product from an unknown company and an unknown designer, as the ‘BEST OF THE BEST’ something they had only awarded to less than 1% of all 18,000 entrants over the years. Their words, describing what I had poured my heart soul and every penny I owned into
‘world-class ground-breaking design for childhood’
meant more than you can ever imagine! My dreams were coming true….
The months that followed were frantic, the factory reopened, ships and products started moving again (albeit rather slowly), and we had just 3 months to get the product to the UK to align with the reddot announcements to the world, which seemed the best shot we had of getting Little Hoppa seen by parents and retailers across the globe.
Chapter 8 – Shipping woes
In October 2020 – we shared the new by Sofie brand and Little Hoppa with the world (or at least with our social media followers and those who had been following my story over the years on threeboysandpink LOL).
But, like most retailers in 2020, our product got stuck on a ship, bouncing it's way from continent to continent, unable to dock in the UK. We missed the Christmas sale period and did not get our product into the country until Jan 2021, almost a full year after we had initially planned it!
Chapter 9 – We FINALLY have lift-off
In January 2021 Little Hoppa finally arrived in the UK!!!
So although it may seem that our story is just beginning, and that we are rather shiny and new, the truth is, it’s been 4 years of imagining, of graft, of grit and of unimaginably challenges, that has got to where we are today.
And so that's why, we are just so thrilled to share with all you lovely subscribers, who have chosen to follow our journey, that just 5 months after Little Hoppa arrived in the UK, we have secured 4 UK stockists, 4 EU stockists, 3 global stockists and have sold Little Hoppa into 23 different countries around the world and counting!!
Our Little Hoppa is also currently on show in two design museums :
Red Dot Design Museum Singapore where Little Hoppa is exhibiting as a showcase in the 'future of design'.
Red Dot Design Museum China as part of their exhibition in social design, addressing some of the worlds toughest social issues through design.
I am so very proud that against all the odds, and as 'just a Mum', by Sofie has created an award winning range for children, that is hoppa' ng it's way around the world quicker than we ever could have dreamed.
Thank you choosing to join us on this crazy ride, your support, your custom and your cheering from the side-lines is what keeps us going every day! We promise that chapter 10 is going to be a really really good one....there's so much more to come ;-)
by Sofie xxx
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March 29, 2021
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