Fantastic Females – Julie Wilson founder/creator of Cheeky Chompers

Cheeky Chompers – Great stuff that helps!

Cheeky Chompers products are designed by mums who really understand it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference in design and practicality for busy parents. Their 10 attachable and multiuse award winning products are developed by mums as a practical, quality and stylish solution intuitively designed to make parents’ lives easier.

As busy mums ourselves, we have created our products with our little ones in mind, and the feedback we get from parents across the world is so motivating they love that our products are attachable so no more lost or dirty teethers!  We also know that safety is crucial, so we always ensure every product is tested rigorously and is the best it can be.

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How did you balance being a mother and a professional? 

With great difficulty!  It’s just such a juggle and much more so in lockdown at the moment obviously. The approach that Amy and I have always strived for is that we prioritise our kids’ key needs as much as possible – we will move heaven and earth to be there for sports days, nativity shows, parents’ nights and key events and encourage our staff to do the same. We try to do school pick-ups twice a week and just work around it at night and try so hard to be ‘present’ when we are with them – even though the calls and e-mails keep coming in! It doesn’t always go according to plan!

Amy and I were lucky to meet through having our children, however we never imagined we’d set up business together soon after. The business came out of our experiences when our babies were teething and we were constantly picking up and sterilising dropped teethers – we thought ‘Why doesn’t someone invent a teether that stays attached to the baby’? Our little ones were our inspiration to start the business and we are constantly trying to be what they need us to be for them.

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What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career? 

Having your own business is definitely not the easy option – but it is the most rewarding! We’ve both made many sacrifices for the business, personally – much less time and energy than is ideal as a mother, wife, sibling or daughter in addition to very few holidays where switching off completely is an option! Professionally, the sacrifices are much less as growing a business from scratch to an international player in 50 countries is a constant learning curve. We have learned so much from manufacturing, to logistics, to safely to fabric so new product development it’s certainly a stimulating time and many, many new skills have been mastered, some after many tries!

Who inspired you and why? 

I’ve always been inspired by others who have the determination to keep driving and manoeuvring through the bumps in the road to great success and bringing their team with them along the way. Annabel Karmel and her amazing weaning business inspired by tragedy and Chrissie Rucker, the founder of The White Company – both of which we are proud to work with – The White Company most recently when launched a beautiful collaborative range across all their stores and online.

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What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace? 

1.Having your own business is definitely a viable option for women – all the factors that might make it seem too complex are very surmountable.

2. Listen to your gut feeling – trust your instincts.

2. Make sure you have identified a genuine gap in the market then make the solution the best it can be from all angles…then go for it!

3. Do something you’re passionate about and excites you – this motivates you at work and home.

4. Prioritise a work/life balance to make sure you are looking after yourself.

5. Remember it’s not the easiest option, but definitely a rewarding one.

Do you think women feel intimidated in business? 

To be honest, on the whole, we have never felt intimidated in our business, except occasionally due to the different cultures in some of our export markets. I’m sure that there are times women may feel intimidated – stand tall girls!

Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m?

That is the time of the week that is ME time generally although that involves standing at the hockey pitch every 2nd week! Great time for chilling and catching up on life.

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What do you love about your job?

We have a genuine passion for our business and the difference we can make to making parents lives easier. I really love hearing from so many parents about how they use/love/depend on our products and the gorgeous pics of many cheeky little ones using them is very motivational. I can honestly say I’ve never been bored in my job, which not many people can say! Working in the baby market is a lot of fun and I feel I can always relate to it having been through it myself as a parent. I also love how I can control my own destiny and having a great team to work with makes it worthwhile too.  

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? 

Definitely starting Cheeky Chompers!

What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? Staying for 20 years in one company before maternity leave inspired a big change in my mind-set and opportunity came along…

What would you be doing if you were me now?

Juggling! I am sitting in front of the telly on my computer with a bag of revels and a cup of tea trying to get to the end of the ever growing to do list!

How do you organise your time? 

There are never enough hours in the day – SO I always focus on family, the team, the essential ‘make the difference’ tasks first, then try to get through the rest.

What do you think is your greatest strength? 

Grit and determination that it CAN happen if you persevere – to do things the best they possible can be done – there’s always a way to do it!

What do you think is your greatest weakness? 

As above determination and never giving up can be exhausting!

How do you make decisions? 

Amy and I started the business together and we very much run this together – we have a clear plan that our decisions and the decisions of our team are made in line with. Having two or more sets of eyes on key decisions really helps the resolution to be stronger more considered – so it does work well for us. Many good ideas come to me at night or in the shower so I always have a pen and paper handy.

What do you read? 

I must admit, for me, reading is very much a ‘switch off’ activity as I read a lot at night. I’ve just finished ‘Finding Henry Appleby’ by  Celia Reynolds and ‘One Minute Later’ by Susan Lewis. Business-wise,  I love a podcast as it fits well into my drive to work or when travelling – I love Piers Linneys series,  Holly Tucker’s ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ and a great local series from Kyle Reid who is the founder of the successful online community EGG.

What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to?

We identified a genuine gap in the market for a product that didn’t exist that helped millions of parents with their teething babies. We created a category for our products that are first to market worldwide and we have spent crucial time, research and focus on making our products the most intuitive, helpful, stylish, safe, and premium quality. Our appearance on BBC Dragon’s Den was amazing for getting us the initial exposure we needed to launch our brand, but since then I would say tenacity is the most important thing to keep going through the ups and downs. Listening to our customers and to those who have done it or are doing it well is a must to make sure we are constantly delivering the best possible product and service we can. Lastly, having the support of our amazing team, family and friends who we couldn’t have done it without!

We launched the World’s first chewy dribble bib the Neckerchew in 2013 and haven’t looked back! All our products are practical, attachable, machine washable and stringently tested to worldwide standards. Teething can be a trying time but our fun teethers give great ‘bite’, using an innovative dimpled design and encourage new teeth to break through. They’re also safe to chew on, contain no phthalates or BPA. Importantly, wash after wash, Cheeky Chompers products are built to last and will stay attached allowing the baby to be in control and handy to chew.

Our award winning Cheeky Chompers range is now ten products strong. We started with the world’s first teething bib, the Neckerchew and followed it with our Comfortchew, Neckerbib, Chewy the teething hippo, Cheeky Blanket and an adaptation of our Neckerchew for older children and adults with oral sensory stimulation needs. In 2019 we launched the Muslin Collection comprising four innovative products made from 100% super soft organic muslin: Neckerchew, Neckerbib, Comforter and our latest innovation the MultiMuslin, one beautiful teething muslin with six clever uses. We launch stylish new designs every Spring and Autumn and our latest brand new products will be launched in June 2020!

We’ve have enjoyed rapid growth and are delighted to have sold more than one and a half million Cheeky Chompers products around the world.  We are the baby gift of choice in many high street stores such as John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bebe, The White Company. Overseas export accounts for over 70% of our turnover as we export to 36 countries with the USA, China, Taiwan and Australia being our largest, and our products continue to win awards across the world!

However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing. Neither of us had backgrounds in retail and it has been a steep learning curve understanding barcodes, pallets, MOQ’s and the export documentation. We invested heavily in IP and then successfully gained first to market positioning in key markets, but have had many battles enforcing our IP. Maintaining a market appropriate price is a constant consideration and we work hard to constantly innovate, refresh and stay one step ahead which means you can never get to the end of the to do list!

We have loved developing our own business and team, creating opportunities for new products, new customers and new markets. Our journey has been an exciting one and way exceeded any expectations we had. The pace and challenge of running a fast growing company are really motivating, as is the constant feedback from happy customers. Seven years into business we go from strength to strength with exciting new products launching this year and further expansion into China…watch this space!

Visit www.cheekychompers.com Cheeky Chompers

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Seem some more of our Fantastic Females HERE

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