Inspirational mumpreneur’s testimonial: Hippychick founder Julia Minchin reveals her secret path to success

One of the best perks of my job is meeting inspirational mumpreneurs such as Hippychick founder Julia Minchin who reveals her secret path to success in this candid interview. 

  

The founder of the family-friendly and award-winning company Hippychick tells London Mums editor Monica Costa how the business has made her the strong and capable mumpreneur she has become. 

 

Hippychick founder Julia Minchin started the business at her kitchen table in Somerset and could never imagine how quickly her products would become indispensable for modern parents. In this candid interview she tells me how her inspiration was her first baby, Tom who is now a young man.


Q: How did you get the idea for Hippychick? 

JM: The seed was sown a few months after the birth of my first child, Tom.  I was at home with an increasingly heavy Tom and I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t anything simple on the market that could help me carry him around on my hip.  It just seemed so straightforward, to adapt something that emulated a hip, but that didn’t require me to jut my hip out putting strain on my back and shoulders, and at the same time kept a hand free to get on with other stuff.  A few months later the Hippychick Hipseat was born, the first product in our portfolio, thankfully before my second child Olly was born, because that’s when it really came into its own.  It’s still selling like hot cakes and is available across the globe, as far as Australia.  

Q: Hippychick is a very cool name? Why did you choose it? 

JM: Apart from the fact that it is the name of a song that came out in the early nineties, the name derived from the hipseat itself, our first product, a chick on the hip.  As a name it also felt cool and carefree!  Also, we had moved to Somerset and were living on the doorstep of the Glastonbury Festival.  It had the right sort of vibe for where we were, who we were and where we wanted to be in the future.  

Q: As a mumpreneur, how do you achieve work-life balance?

JM: It’s easier now that the kids are a bit older, but I am still a mum and want to be part of my children’s lives.  

I have just driven my eldest, Tom, back to University in York, a 500-mile round trip (he couldn’t have really got further away from Somerset if he tried) and I accompany my youngest, Sophie, around the ski slopes of Europe so she can compete.  We also have  horses so I ride whenever I can, but normally before anyone’s even out of bed.  

As a parent, I have always been flexible with my work hours.  I might take a bit of time off here and there to be with the children, but I’ve always put in the hours, even if it means replying to emails at 11.00pm at night.  I know that my eldest son Tom’s most abiding memory is the blue flash of the Dell lap tops on the kitchen table if he ever got out of bed and came to find us late at night!

Q: What are the trends in toys and in baby essentials for 2018/2019?  

JM: In all honesty, whilst we need to be fully aware of trends and fads, Hippychick’s ethos is to be the complete opposite, inventing and sourcing products that have integrity, a classic quality that will never date and are built to last.  Trends and fads come and go but I believe there’ll always be a demand for beautifully crafted, wooden toys that not only look beautiful but also offer genuine play value as well as development benefits to little people.   

Photo: Richard Lane/Richard Lane Photography. Hippychick. 20/09/2017.

Q: How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

JM: A great team – the key to a successful business!  My husband, Jeremy, who joined the business after two years following a career in the Met Police force, has been instrumental in helping me to build the business.  We have a great team of people in Bridgwater where the offices and warehouse are based – some of whom have been with us for 15 years. 

Amazing suppliers who trusted and believed in us from our humble beginnings.  We are the proud, exclusive distributors of some of the most sought-after products in our sector including Wheelybugs and Moover Toys.  

Q: After all your success over the years, what do you struggle with now?

JM: Targeting the new parenting market has always been, and continues to be, a challenge.  The Hippychick life span is limited.  Once a child has reached the age of 4, the game’s over.  So, an audience we’ve spent time and money cultivating has disappeared and we have to be continually working on bringing in a new one.  It’s a continual cycle and one we’ve perfected over the years through constant marketing and brand awareness campaigns.  

Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to start their own business?

JM: The business in which we operate is a competitive one, so you obviously need a great product, you need to understand your market, research your offering and, most importantly, pitch your price right.  

Q: Do you think women feel intimidated in business?

JM: Personally, I never have as I can always give as good as I get (I am one of five children)!  I think some women in the work place tend to let intimidation inhibit their progress and question what they do, whereas men are less likely to be affected by it. It’s all about confidence, and we all need to nurture this, whatever our gender.   

Q:What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?

JM: You’ve got to be strong and capable of making decisions.  Being decisive is probably the most important but difficult thing to achieve – and when you’ve made your decision, you need to move on.

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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