Eat Sleep Love
We know from first-hand experience how daunting it is to navigate all the products, tech, clothing and furniture that's needed when the first baby is about to come along! We believe that the experience shouldn’t be stressful, as it is for so many new parents - it's an exciting time that should be fun - just like a wedding is.
Eat Sleep Love is a beautiful baby boutique. We set out in 2015 to provide an appointment-based service for new parents in a welcoming and warm environment where they can get all the information and products needed to prepare for the arrival of their baby.
We started Eat Sleep Love because we found, through our own experience of having two boys a few years ago, that going through all the things we needed to buy, install, order, organise and set up was a minefield! It took a lot of time, effort and often mistake making - all while we were both working full-time jobs.
We suddenly thought to ourselves - there should be a better way of doing this!
We were struck by how much of an experience the wedding industry has become - the process of making big expensive purchases like wedding dresses and reception venues has become an enjoyable day out with close friends and family, designed to replace stress with fun.
We realised that we couldn't find a comparable service in the baby industry. There are some personal shopping services, but we believe that there are no established boutique services that offer a private, welcoming experience with expert advice to help make big purchasing decisions – so that’s what we set out to do.
Substantial accomplishments to date
We began trading just over a year ago, and we’ve already achieved so much! In our first full year of trading, we completed over 250 transactions and secured over £100,000 of revenue with little marketing.* Our customers have spent up to £7,500 in a single transaction in our boutique. Further to this, 74% of customers who have come for a free consultation have gone on to complete a purchase.
We’ve also managed to bring on board a host of exciting suppliers and we now range products from some of the leaders in the industry, including Bugaboo, Joolz and Cybex, who supply the likes of John Lewis and Mamas and Papas. In total, we now stock 65 suppliers, allowing us to truly offer a full range to prospective parents.
In addition to establishing ourselves, our boutique, growing our customer base and sales in the last year, we’ve also received industry recognition for our great service and proposition. We were named ‘Best Boutique’ in the 2016 Little London Awards and awarded Silver in the 2016 Junior Design Awards.
We’re proud of the amount of support we’ve already gained, with over 1,600 Instagram followers, 700 Facebook followers and a perfect 5 out of 5 score on Facebook reviews.
*Source: unaudited financial accounts
We have a number of plans to grow our business.
We have a small web shop at present, which we would look to grow with the addition of CRM tools and marketing support to target customers ‘Beyond the Birth’. We know we can grow sales at key milestones in the baby's first year by securing purchases around moments such as the baby's first Christmas and Birthday.
We also believe that the boutique format can be replicated in a number of urban village areas with similar demographic characteristics, and we plan to open another 2 boutiques in the next 5 years.
Lastly, we will look to grow our collaborations with other businesses and services. We have started to host supplier events at our boutique, where suppliers can meet customers to demonstrate new product releases and potentially secure orders through us. We also intend to host regular events with prospective customers, offering complimentary services to expectant families, such as pregnancy yoga and sleep classes.
Use of proceeds
We will use the funds raised in this campaign to develop our retail offer and amplify our marketing efforts to raise brand awareness and achieve greater customer acquisition.
We intend to improve the functionality and experience of our web shop, implementing CRM tools to allow us to follow-up with customers after the initial sales, capturing repeat purchases alongside key milestones of the baby's first year, delivering targeted messages when the baby will take their first crawls, steps, words, and offer products for each moment.
Funds raised will also allow us to execute a strong marketing campaign in the next 12 months to raise brand awareness and customer numbers. We plan to grow our appointment service with a targeted set of marketing activities in our local area, before expanding to 2 other areas.
Full details of our planned expenditure are available in our campaign documents.
Please note that the company currently has an overdraft facility of £16,250. The funds raised will not be used to pay this.
Our target customer is a female, most likely in her 30s, social classification AB, and has a successful career. She is most likely to be in a long-term relationship and 3-7 months pregnant with her first child, almost certainly classified as a 'DINKY' (Double Income No Kids Yet).
As a couple, they lead busy lives and are therefore used to paying for convenience. The goods and the services they normally buy would be classified as 'premium', due to their relatively high level of disposable income with a combined salary of £100,000 (‘AB’ demographic).
In their personal and professional lives, they will be very used to seeking advice and trusting it. They will take their time with important first baby essentials.
A study completed by Debenhams in 2012 revealed that parents are spending on average £2,538 preparing for their new baby, a 13% increase since 2009. Their spokeswoman, Lizzie Singleton, said: 'Our research shows that expecting a baby turns usually savvy shoppers into spendthrifts, with 64% of customers who said that they spared no expense when it came to baby preparation. One of the reasons given for this large increase is that couples are copying celebrity mothers-to-be who go on spending sprees in the weeks before their child’s birth.’.
In addition, our target customer is likely to have a supportive, involved family network, with similar demographic and disposable income traits. This close network of family and friends are more likely to participate in gift-buying and respond well to using technology and the provision of tools like our 'Wishlists', further adding to incremental sales.
Our customer is likely to be well-researched and interested in alternative and complementary therapies and classes connected to pregnancy, both pre-natal and post-natal. Our target customer is an active participant in classes such as pregnancy pilates, baby massage, doola, mindfulness and sleep improvement.
Characteristics of target market
We believe that we'll be able to achieve growth of sales in our boutique over the next few years with strong and focused marketing campaigns. Whilst we delivered over £100,000 of revenue* last year from our 140 individual customers, independent research indicates that last year there were c.10,400 births to families living within a 20-minute drive time of our boutique. Based on £2,500 being spent per baby, this alone represents an addressable market of over £25million!
Mintel’s nursery and baby equipment report published in February 2014, puts the size of the UK market at £782m in 2013, and forecasts it to grow to £844m by 2018. The average age of becoming a mother increased to 30 years in 2013, whilst the birth rate is expected to stabilise.
The 2011 census shows that the population of the Borough of Greenwich, where our first existing boutique is situated, was over 250,000 and the majority of people were between the age of 20-44. We believe that these statistics give further justification to our business plan, especially with baby and family orientated retail and leisure outlets.
*Source: Unaudited management accounts.
Over the coming months, we plan to build on our existing business with a number of marketing activities:
- Show Events: we intend to stage the first ever Eat Sleep Love Baby event, during the summer of 2017 and located on/near Blackheath Heath, showcasing our product and service in a summer fete style surrounding. We also expect to attend a number of trade events throughout the year.
- Monthly Events: we aim to host a number of supplier demonstration events to entice customers, bloggers and influencers to generate additional PR for the business in our Boutique.The first of these happened in October, with one of the leading suppliers of prams in the UK (Joolz)
- Social Media and Facebook Advertising: using existing databases and data supplied through 'Facebook Lookalikes', we will target a local audience with online advertising.
- Web CRM and Aftercare Developments: by rebuilding our web store, refreshing our content and crucially following up with customers after their consultation, we will extend our marketing reach to capture additional sales from parents beyond the birth of their baby.
- We plan to host and manage a number of complimentary therapy events in conjunction with local practitioners such as pregnancy pilates, doola, baby massages and mindfulness.We have already planned a marketing strategy for the next 12 months and have secured a partner agency to work with us to bring Eat Sleep Love to a bigger audience.
We believe that one of the key strengths of our business is the comparative lack of direct competition in our local area; the same is true of a number of areas we have also tentatively explored for our future sites.
Whilst there are a number of baby shops and outlets, we believe that there are relatively few who cater for the demands of our ‘AB’ customer and none within the immediate local area.
Our key national competitors are:
- John Lewis (locally, Oxford Street, Westfield Stratford & Bluewater. Not local). Nursery appointments are available during normal trading hours, which is a free service and requires no minimum spend.
- Mamas and Papas (locally Oxford Street, Westfield Stratford & Bluewater. Not local). One-on-one advice service is offered free of charge and requires no minimum spend.
Small independent competition:
- Anita’s House (Chelsea). An appointment only personalised shopping experience, based in the west of London (and thus a long way from us), with a predominantly high net worth individual customer base.
Products are sold at RRP with a £95 consultation fee.
- We have identified two other independent baby stores (Baby Nest in Croydon and Tommy’s in Peckham) who also compete with us. However, we understand that both of these independents are retailers with products on sale, not boutiques, and with no consultation service. The offer in both stores is not aimed at the AB consumer that we have targeted.
We consider ourselves to have a number of key differences in our offer to the above key competitors. With regards to national chains (John Lewis and Mamas and Papas), the key difference is our boutique experience and individual, consultative approach – whilst delivering goods at the same price – allowing our customer to feel relaxed and welcome, and advised by someone with first hand experience of what is needed, as opposed to a ‘salesperson’ or indeed no one at all.