We were excited to take part in an exclusive interview with our friends at Nursery Today magazine - to talk business! Keep reading for a sneak peak behind the scenes of NBS and find out how we have grown so rapidly whilst keeping our values at the forefront of everything we do. It's NBS as you've never seen before... 💼
Firstly, can you tell us a little about the history of Natural Baby Shower - when did you first open your doors?
Natural Baby Shower was actually started from my kitchen table at home and has been growing and growing ever since! We opened our current store in Bagshot just over two years ago, before then we had a small boutique in Chertsey, and have been trading online for over a decade. Even in such a short space of time the Bagshot store has nearly tripled in size and gives parents even more room to demo a vast number of top brands. Upstairs now houses our beautiful nursery showroom and we have always built our story around supporting both big trusted brands as well as smaller boutique business, of course we always champion the eco, ethical and sustainable retailers too.
You are an ethical retailer, what does this mean for your business?
We pride ourselves on stocking only the brands we love and trust many of which share our values. We always strive to work with brands that adopt sustainable business initiatives as well as ethical working conditions. We also want to provide the very best products for parents and baby, this means looking at the materials used in the products we stock – are they 100% organic, oeko-tex and GOTS certified? We want to ensure absolutely no nasties in prints, dyes or fabrics.
Do you consider the carbon footprint of brands that you stock?
Absolutely. Many of our brands such as Joolz, Frugi and Finn + Emma are very conscious of their carbon footprint and encourage a green way of working.
How important are brands to your business?
Brands are at the heart of our business and it’s very important to work with likeminded people. We have fantastic relationships with all of our suppliers, Cybex, BABYZEN, aden+anais, MORI, Plan Toys… the list could go on!
Since opening, what has been the largest consumer trend that you have experienced?
Our consumers are definitely looking more closely at the materials used to create the products they are purchasing. They demand absolutely no nasties in materials used to produce baby clothes, blankets and toys. It’s so important as their skin is so delicate and everything ends up in their mouths. Consumers are also far more aware of the effects businesses are having on the environment and we see customers opting for wooden toys over plastic and reusable materials in strollers. We are living in a trend where consumers don’t want to waste and add to landfill but recycle, reuse and reinvent. We love that Bugaboo have adopted this philosophy with the new Bugaboo Fox – materials made from recycled bottles - and we love to see an increasing demand for reusable, washable nappies such as TotsBots.
How does the internet affect your business?
Where would we be without the internet! Having opened the doors to Natural Baby Shower over 10 years ago we have seen the internet grow and develop new technologies. Whilst the internet certainly increases competition, we invest heavily into Google Search and Shopping as well as both organic and Social Media. We have a great customer database who receive weekly newsletters with exclusive content, promotions and behind the scenes blog posts. The internet allows us to bring Natural Baby Shower to everyone, even overseas! We also have a fantastic social community and feel like there is a Natural Baby Shower family out there. Having said that, there is nothing more personal and informative than one to one customer service in-store, where we can talk to customers and help provide the best products and solutions to fit their lifestyle.
How important is your website to your business, do you offer the same products in store as you do online?
Our website acts as a source of knowledge and information to the consumer, we want them to be able to learn about each brand and product quickly and easily in the same way they could in-store. Our website is our virtual shop window, so must look appealing as well as reflecting our brands and products accurately. Speed and ease of transaction, together with availability of real time customer service are all very important. We also bring added value to our customers with our blog – we often collaborate with our brands to provide exclusive content, interviews and insights. We stock a great selection in-store but not everything that is available on website is always sitting on the shelf, due to space constrictions.
Is social media important to you as a company?
Hugely, we have a fantastic social media following and believe there is a Natural Baby Shower community growing across both Facebook and Instagram, especially. Again, acting as a source of information we want our channels to be a hub of entertainment, advice, a place to engage with other parents as well as providing excellent customer service to customers with questions or queries about our products. We love the spontaneity of social media and we like to be ahead of the trends!
Do you feel that your customers are better informed and research information online prior to making a purchase?
Absolutely, consumers are smart and want to make informed decisions, especially when it comes to babies – we are so heavily invested and want only the best. The market is flourishing and competition is certainly increasing, but what sets Natural Baby Shower apart is the collaboration of top, trusted brands alongside small, eco, ethical brands. As well as offering a personalised experience – as Mum and founder I want to share mine and other parents experiences with our customers – Natural Baby Shower will never be a ‘faceless’ business.
We hear you are in the process of expansion - can you tell us a little about this?
Natural Baby Shower has grown more than I could have ever imagined. Our turnover is doubling year and year, as is the number of employees. We also now stock over 100 brands!
Can you tell us more about your new warehouse facility and office location?
We recently acquired a new 1400 sq ft premises in Bracknell, just 15 minutes down the road from the store. We moved our offices there at the beginning February, allowing us to accommodate the increasing skill set and our warehouse move followed, over the Easter weekend. It went surprisingly smoothly and it is great to have both teams under one roof again.
What does this expansion mean to your business?
The extra warehouse space will allow us to hold more stock and explore even more brands! We’re also exploring Click & Collect, to make Natural Baby Shower more accessible to local families. We are very excited for the next chapter here at Natural Baby Shower!
How will the new Hub you are creating work alongside your store?
The Hub will be a destination for parents to come together as a community, there will be baby classes such as Baby Sensory, Music with Mummy, Pregnancy Yoga as well as expert talks from Hypnobirthing Experts, Baby Wearing Consultants. It will just give us the opportunity to be more active within the local community and to offer much sought after information, advice and support to new parents.
You have a number of new team members, with recruits joining you from Mothercare, Mercedes and even Jongleurs Comedy Club - how will this assist your continued expansion?
We are thrilled to welcome a number of new members to the Natural Baby Shower team. Simon Hutchinson joined us as Operations Manager and brings vast industry experience and knowledge after a great career at Mothercare. Our new Marketing Manager, Josie Audibert joined us from Mercedes-Benz and brings a brilliant marketing skill set as well as drive to become more strategic. And Amy Blanchard, joined us from Jongleurs Comedy Club as Creative Designer and brings a fantastic eye for design, creativity and will certainly help to build the Natural Baby Shower brand.
Finally, are there any further plans on the horizon that you would like to share with us?
We are just getting over our move and will the next focus will be launching The Hub. We will also be concentrating on our wholesale channel in the coming months and will be appointing a Sales Manager to take it to the next level. We currently distribute Babiators and Merino Kids and will be launching the websites for these shortly and investing heavily in marketing. They are fantastic brands, which are top sellers for us and have great appeal to the current consumer. We will also be looking for other brands to add to the portfolio, both wholesale and retail. Other than that, it is just onward and upwards and take each opportunity that comes our way!