A Grand Day Out

By Helen Hickman
on April 13, 2018

 

The Harrogate International Nursery Fair is where I’ve been since I last blogged.  Sounds splendid and huge doesn’t it?  I’ve been visiting for 20+ years now and it’s always been a 3-day event.  That’s how long it takes to get round and see everything properly: very comfy shoes essential and a bit of step-smugness, as I go well over my 10,000 each day.  It’s always promised innovation, the latest trends, styles and colours and plenty of opportunity to catch up with other colleagues and my favourite  independent British and European manufacturers and suppliers. 

A colleague and I stayed at the fabulous White Hart Hotel,  which I thoroughly recommend). https://www.whiteharthotelharrogate.com  Comfy shoes on, iPhone charged ready for loads of photos, and a nice big bag at the ready to collect all the leaflets, business cards and information I’d be needing for new, exciting baby equipment stock that I just know my clients will love, we set off, ready to be surprised.  And surprised we were.  As it’s awards season (Oscars, Baftas, etc) here are my Harrogate awards:

Best goody bag goes to…

Venicci a lovely Polish independent supplier.  Chocolate, pens, notepads, post-it notes – wow!  A girl will go anywhere for chocolate and stationery!  We have been Venicci stockists for nearly two years and look forward to receiving our first delivery of new colours for 2018 in Mid May.

Best hospitality goes to…

Baby Style, who had a gin bar on their stand!  Need I say more? Oh, and they’re supplying the Egg Oyster 3 which is brand-new and launching in August 2018. 

Best distribution contract goes to…

Little Poppets, for now supplying the beautiful range of Bozz foot-muffs and sheepskin rugs.  We put our order in for Autumn 2018.

Best bargain from an independent supplier goes to…

Roma in Dorset, where the lovely Emma and daughter Molly are supplying a superb package: Romavita stroller, buggy, carrycot, car seat, foot-muff and changing bag for an incredible £400!  Emma and Molly’s shop, Babybirds is worth a visit, if you’re in the area.  We are very glad to become stockists of Roma and already have the Vita on our shop floor!  https://www.romaprams.co.uk/roma-travel-systems

Best products award goes to

Little Chick for their sleeping aid products. At Bumpstart, we stock the Breathable Bedside Crib, the swaddle and the daytime nest. This is something I care deeply about, particularly after all the problems we had with my youngest daughter when she was a baby.  They share valuable information about safe sleeping from the Lullaby Trust, and I’d recommend anyone with a baby to check this out. https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk

The strangest fabric award goes to…

Silver lurex. On a pram.  Yes, really.  I liked it.  Certainly eye-catching.

And finally, the Booby prize goes to…

A furniture supplier, who will remain nameless, who was displaying a beautiful range of nursery furniture in a fabulous shade of grey, for which I’d have put in an order, but who then informed me that it was unavailable, as he was giving Mothercare exclusive stockist status! (So why display it…?)

My biggest surprise was the size of this year’s show; it was very much smaller than in previous years, which made me sad.  Many of the larger companies were nowhere to be seen, although the smaller, independent suppliers were so enthusiastic and keen to support independent businesses, which was great to see.

A word to the wise

Did you know that when you buy goods with a warranty, that warranty belongs to you, and you alone?  If you buy second-hand baby equipment, which had a warranty when new, you won’t be able to use it if there’s a fault with the purchase, as the warranty belongs to the original owner  I say this not to promote buying new, but because we were asked to “fix” a problem for a customer who’d bought second-hand with the original warranty in the first owner's name, and unfortunately we weren’t able to oblige.  A classic case of “Buyer Beware”.

News from the farm

Farmer Bumpstart has had a bit of a nightmare few weeks, it has to be said, poor chap.  Day after day of wet, cold weather is not what you need when you have hundreds of newborn lambs to care for.  The lambing sheds were literally bursting at the seams, especially when he decided to bring many of them back inside because the weather was just too awful.  I’ve made infinite cups of tea, bowls of soup and fed umpteen lambs myself too and have felt permanently "on call" for weeks.  It will be good when it’s all finished, and they’re out in the fresh air again.

As I write this, we’re waiting for the last 17 to produce, and we’re also waiting for some decent weather, so the fields will dry out, so please do your best sun-dance for us!

Until next time,

Helen x

 

March 2018

By Helen Hickman
on March 20, 2018

Who’s got a Spring in their step?

In spite of the snow and freezing weather we’ve had lately, Bumpstart has definitely got a Spring in its step this month. 

Last month, our 25th birthday celebrations saw a bumper crop of customers, both new and old, come to visit us, particularly over our birthday weekend, when we dished up 50 gorgeous cupcakes and 100 goody-bags to our visitors.  Thank you so much to everyone who dropped by; you made us feel valued and appreciated.  Our suppliers were incredibly generous, donating some amazing prizes for our competition.  The draw took place on 1 March, and I’m delighted to announce that our winners are Melanie, who wins an Uppababy Vista pram,  Emma, who wins a Joie car seat and Daisy, who wins a Maxi Cosi Zelia pram.  Enjoy your wonderful prizes, ladies!

I’ve been genuinely sad at the news this week of the demise of Toys R Us.  At Bumpstart, we’ve never tried to compete with the toy store giant, since we simply wouldn’t be able to price-match.  But it’s always a shame to hear that another retailer is no more, particularly one in a similar category.  And my heart goes out to those who will lose their jobs as a result.

As a small, independent retailer, we’re in the fortunate position of being able to respond far faster than the “big boys” to market changes and shifts in buying habits.  I’ll be visiting Harrogate at the end of March for the International Nursery Fair, where I’ll be sourcing the latest equipment and accessories, ready to stock in a matter of weeks, if not days after my visit.  Harrogate is a particular favourite of mine, because it’s the only UK trade show where many of our distributors and suppliers (including some smaller British brands) showcase their new products. I love to stock British wherever I can, of course and in Harrogate, I get to see the very best in current design and ideas.  And because it’s just me, making the purchasing decisions, I can do so quickly, and with my customers in mind, so our stock will always be bang up-to-date and on trend.

Of course, folk can always buy online instead, as many do, but again, small trumps big, time and again in terms of knowledge and customer service.  No use asking an online box-shifter for precise advice on how to fit a car seat safely, assemble or fold down a pushchair, or have a qualified member of staff show you to do both of these before you part with your hard-earned cash.  That kind of help is only available from a specialist.  You deal with medical specialists all the time before you have your baby, so why stop there? 

And whilst we’re on the subject of babies, down on the farm Farmer Bumpstart is currently preparing his own maternity ward, for the imminent arrival of approximately 800 lambs to 510 expectant ewes.  Two veterinary students are about to arrive to help out, and will be lodging with us, and the local primary school will be paying us a visit to see the newborns too.   Life is about to become extremely busy! 

Lambswool is wonderful for keeping babies warm, as every Mummy ewe will tell you.  One of my favourite cot mattresses we have in stock is made by Harrison Spinks, who farm in Yorkshire.  We also have some beautiful lambswool fleeces to keep your little ones cosy in their pushchairs, while Winter is still doing its best to keep Spring at bay. 

So whether you’re cuddling a human baby, or a lamb, I wish you comfort and warmth and hope that Spring will bring some of that to all of us very soon.

BUMPSTART HAS LOTS TO CELEBRATE THIS MONTH!!!

By Helen Hickman
on January 31, 2018

Bumpstart  Feb 2018 blog

It’s the month of love, and we’re certainly feeling lots of that here at Coddimoor Farm!  We’re celebrating our 25th birthday; we’ve just been awarded Brand Ambassador status for iCandy and Farmer Bumpstart is expecting somewhere in the region of 1000 lambs in the not too distant few weeks!  Life is certainly wonderful and hectic.

As a woman running her own business, I’ve a strong message for any female entrepreneurs out there, and it’s this: You don’t need to be Superwoman.  You simply need a vision and the perseverance to keep that vision within your sight. 

The basic ups and downs of business are mostly unchanged in my 25 years’ experience.  There are highs and lows, learning curves and curve balls (if you get my drift!) but you CAN do it if you really want to.

So what has changed?  My hair colour, my waistline (!) and, more significantly, the use of internet and social media in business.  It’s a far cry from hand delivering leaflets to the wonders of Instagram and Facebook, I can tell you.  A lot less tough on the legs, but far more tough on the brain.

You’ll forgive me for taking the occasional 5 minutes to do a bit of reminiscing lately, and I wanted to share some thoughts with you about what else has changed over the last 25 years. 

In 1993 and the early days…

  • The shop was a former tractor shed – romantic, no? Well, no, not really! 
  • We sold second-hand toys and baby goods, including car seats and prams.
  • I had 5 different prams on the shop floor

In 2018…

  • I’m happy to say that our shop is warm, cosy and welcoming and there is no longer the lingering whiff of tractor oil!
  • We are no longer permitted to sell second-hand car seats, nor would we want to! Car safety is our top priority, and we’re constantly training and updating our skills so you can try our car seats before you buy.  Plus, we won’t let you leave until we’re all sure you can fit them yourself confidently.
  • We stock 40-50 different models of high-quality prams to give customers a huge choice. (Rose gold and glitter are big this year, but not compulsory!)  Full training in assembling and dismantling buggies comes as standard.

Things that have caused me a sharp intake of breath…

  • The couple who drove to us all the way from London about 10 years ago, in a soft-top sports car, with their baby in the mother’s arms in the passenger seat! I was truly horrified!
  • The couple who “secured” their pushchair in the back of their van with rope – with their child still in it, before buying a car seat from us.

Things that make me smile now, to think that…

  • My first manageress is now my sister-in-law.
  • One former customer is now a valued colleague and has worked with me for 7 years.
  • My “gold watch” staff who have been with me for 23 and 19 years respectively. What they don’t know isn’t worth knowing.
  • My “young blood” staff who are already proving to be so brilliant and knowledgeable.
  • Babies who now come back to the shop as parents-to-be to get their baby essentials.
  • Getting invited to christenings and weddings (often in that order!)
  • My friends, who I relied on to support my shop when it first opened are now customers again, as they become grandparents.
  • Account managers of our suppliers look so young! (like police officers!)
  • I occasionally dream that the yard outside the shop is full of every pram I’ve ever sold!
  • iCandy’s recognition of our quality service and their confidence in our ability to portray their products. I’m utterly delighted to be a Brand Ambassador.  For further information - read ICandy's Blog at ttps://www.icandyworld.com/iclife/introducing-brand-ambassadors-bumpstart/

So how are we celebrating our success?  Well, over the weekend of our birthday (2nd – 4th February, we’re having a big celebration at the shop.  And you’re all warmly invited to come in and say “hello”.  Every customer will receive a goody-bag and have the chance to enter a competition to win some truly amazing equipment.  Oh, and did I mention the cupcakes?  There will be cupcakes a-go-go!  Happy Birthday to us!

Until next time, this is a very happy Helen, wishing you all the very best!

 

 

Bumpstart Babyshop BLOG - August 2017

By Helen Hickman
on October 18, 2017

If you thought that the life of a baby shop owner was full of parties and celebrities, you'd be a long way from the truth!  But very occasionally, I do get to dress up and meet some lovely people in the course of my work.  In July, I was very honoured, as a key retailer, to be invited to Yorkshire to attend the celebration of 140 years of Britain's most iconic and best-known pram maker, Silver Cross.  And very exciting it was too, not least because the entertainment at the party was in the rather beautiful shape of a certain Mr Tony Hadley.  Imagine a collective gathering of baby shop owners' excitement at meeting him!  He was as charming as you'd imagine too.

Ask your mum, or grandmother to name a brand of pram, and the chances are they'll name Silver Cross.  Everyone knows and trusts the British firm including us at Bumpstart, which is why we're proud to carry the Wave, Surf, Pioneer and Wayfarer ranges, not forgetting the Avia, their newest stroller.  And, of course at Bumpstart, you can try out the Silver Cross Simplicity car seats in your car too, expertly fitted by one of the team, to make sure that they are suitable.  All these products are in our showroom here at Coddimoor Farm, along with Silver Cross' wonderful range of nursery furniture and bedding.

Meanwhile, back in Yorkshire, Silver Cross certainly know how to throw a party!  We had a delicious three course meal, copious quantities of champagne and "one or two" cocktails AND we were all able to stay the night at the beautiful hotel where the party was held.  As its a long way from just outside Milton Keynes to go for a party, we decided to make a short break of it! Off we went to Harrogate and, as Farmer Bumpstart's head was a little "fragile", I hit the shops!

The following day, we went to the Great Yorkshire Show.  After all, we're proud to combine our Bumpstart business with our family farm here in Whaddon.  Farming is a very important part of our lives too.  The Great Yorkshire show is to be recommended as a fantastic day out - there was a lot to grab our interest!  We dropped in on our lovely friend Vicky from Harrison Spinks who were exhibiting in the Country Living tent.  It was so interesting to see their cotbed mattresses on display, all made in Yorkshire with British wool.  We are also sheep farmers, so it was good to see a company supporting the farming community.  Actually, Harrison Spinks also farm too, so we have a lot in common!

And now, I'm back in Whaddon, with my wonderful team, ready and waiting to share our huge choice of beautiful baby equipment with you.  We also welcome Meghan to our team!  

We look forward to meeting you here soon and Ive got a couple of Tony Hadley photos I can show you too......

Until next time......Helenx

Bumpstart September/October Blog

By Helen Hickman
on October 18, 2017

September is always an exciting month for Bumpstart, as it's time to pack the suitcase and head off to Bali, whoops, sorry, wishful thinking, I meant Cologne, for our most important trade event of the year.  The Kind and Jugend (literally, Child and Youth) Trade Fair.  This is where I go each year to marvel at the latest innovations in the world of everything baby.  And this year, as ever, it didn't disappoint.  I was in turn, amazed, amused and astonished.

For those of you who like a bit of data, the area of this trade fair is about 18 football pitches.  In two days, I walked thirteen miles (my poor feet!) and only covered about quarter of what was on offer.  The lengths (literally) that I go to, in order to source the very best quality baby goods for the shop.

So what was I looking for?  Companies whose products meet the very exacting safety standards we demand in Britain in general, and at Bumpstart in particular is always my top priority, closely followed by new trends and innovations and of course, the very latest gorgeous colours and fabrics which will be bang on trend for 2018.

What amazed me?  Well, several things.  After over 25 years in the baby equipment business, I am always taken by surprise at the sheer creativity behind innovations; some of them brilliantly practical, such as three child seats that will fit easily side-by-side in the back of a car, to the quite frankly bizarre, such as a pram covered in silky rosebuds and another in sequins!  It was a little sad to see so few independent UK retailers there however.  I walked my miles with some great colleagues as we discussed all the products on show, and we were royally welcomed, I must say, by our suppliers; plied with food and the odd glass.  Good job we did so much walking to burn off all the extra calories.!

And what, I hear you asking, will be featured on Bumpstart's ever-expanding shop floor very soon?  Tempting though it is to shop till you drop there and then on any stand you visit, I don't.  I like to take lots of notes and then come away and have a good think about what my customers would like to see in our shop over the coming year,.  Taking a step back and reflecting is definitely worthwhile and I'm delighted to tell you that I have just placed orders for a whole variety of exciting new baby goods, that I can't wait to show you all.  Top trends for next year (apart from sequins) are as follows: metallic fabrics, glitter (yes really), and leather effect fabrics alongside chassis colours predominantly in pewter and rose gold all feature strongly.  As far as new models for buggies go, what's very exciting is the shift in design from the umbrella-fold type to versions that are designed to fold into the size of a small suitcase.  These will fit into overhead lockers on a plane and will also delight Mini-driving mums and dads everywhere (other small cars too, of course!).

Brands that I'm loving at the moment are Egg; their "Quail" range in available from February 2018, and Phil & Ted who are launching a wonderfully compact buggy, due instore at Bumpstart March 2018.

Of course, my personal favourite brand, ICandy, was very much in evidence too, and I have some super-exciting news about Bumpstart, ICandy and me, which is so brand-new (there's a clue there!) that you will have to wait for the next blog to read about it.  It will be worth the wait, I promise.

And finally, because I wonder if you all know that Bumpstart is situated on our working family farm, Farmer Bumpstart has been extremely busy while I've been away.  All our crops are now "drilled" for next year and in "sheep news" our "tups" have been put in with our ewes and are busy (ahem) "partying"....  So in common with many of you, new babies will be very much the theme down on the farm too.  This is why farming and Bumpstart make such a great partnership: growing, nurturing, and helping new life into the world is what we are all about.

Enjoying the beautiful Autumn colours until next time.  Helenx

 

Bumpstart BLOG - July 2017 WE ARE FAMILY!!!

By Helen Hickman
on October 18, 2017

Hello and welcome to (hopefully) a regular Bumpstart Babyshop blog.  I'm Helen, proud owner of Bumpstart, my business which I've developed over the past 25 years.  Since Bumpstart is all about families: starting families, adding to families, celebrating new member(s) of the family and so on, I wanted to begin this new blogging venture by introducing you to the Bumpstart Babyshop family!

The Bumpstart Babyshop Story

But before I do, let me tell you why I'm so proud of, and passionate about, my business.  In 1992 I was eight and a half months pregnant with my second daughter when my car was stolen.  As if that wasn't bad enough in my car was my baby car seat, pram and travel cot.  The car was eventually found wrapped around a lamp post, and missing those essential items, which I was then quoted by a local store would take several weeks to replace.  I made up my mind that mums-to-be deserved better, so I set up my shop retailing new and second-hand baby equipment, initially as a franchised business and since 2007 as an independent retailer.  Due to the success of Ebay, there is little point in selling second hand goods in the shop these days, so we don't, and I prefer to specialise in stocking the best quality baby and nursery equipment money can buy.  However you cant put a price on knowledge, expertise and experience, so read on....

More than a shop selling baby goods

My quest for outstanding quality goes deeper than just what is on the shop floor.  I know how vital it is to have the skills to offer superior customer service to match the superior goods we stock.  And my team has those skills by the bucketload.  So here's a brief introduction to the Bumpstart Babyshop family:

Janette.  Janette has been with me for pretty much the entire Babyshop journey.  She's my manager in so many ways!  Her 22 years' experience and knowledge is priceless.  And she's a mum too.  She's very precise about how she sees herself: "I'm not a sales person" which is perfect for us.  Janette's not here to hard-sell; she's here to share her years of know-how so that our customers make the right decision for them.

Susan.  Susan has worked closely with Janette and me for nearly 20 years.  A mum of two, she says that the best thing about Bumpstart is that it feels like family.  This is also what we aim for our customers to feel when they visit us; a sense of walking into a place where everyone simply wants the best for you and your own precious family.

Katie.  Katie first came to Bumpstart as a customer when her own young daughter was just a bump! Seven years later (just a "newbie" then!), and Katie is as much an expert as the rest of the team.  We're very happy that she loved Bumpstart so much that she's extended her own family to include us.

Charlotte.  Although Charlotte is the youngest in our team, her understanding of all our products is remarkable.  She's an old head on young shoulders, according to her Bumpstart sisters, and her customer service skills are impressive, as is her product knowledge.

Last words (I promise!)

I've been told that a blog needs to be shortish, so I confess that I've struggled with this one!  There is so much I want to share with you: our passion for safety, which is shy we like to fit your baby's car seat personally into your car; our special relationship with ICandy and their amazing pushchairs and prams; the exciting new products I'd love you to see; but it will all have to wait for another month.  In the meantime, you're very welcome to come and meet the Bumpstart "family" in person and tell us your family story. We look forward to seeing you soon.  Until next time .......

Helenx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maxi-Cosi explains iSize

By Katie Ambler
on June 07, 2015

There has been much confusion recently, regarding the new iSize legislation and when it replaces the current ECE R44/04 standard. 

Following Maxi-Cosi’s i-Size press day held at their UK head offices in Borehamwood on 1st June, they have produced a short video to explain the key benefits of the new i-Size (R129) regulation.

In the video Maxi-Cosi European I-Size expert, Erik Salters, talks through the reasons for introducing a new regulation as well as the 5 key points of i- Size and he also addresses the confusion regarding the older R44/04 and new i-Size (R129) regulations running in parallel.

Hopefully this will clear a few things up for you all!

 

The Bumpstart Team