Today, for our first in a series of exclusive interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs who are making waves in the parenting world, I’m pleased to introduce you to mum boss extraordinaire, the lovely Emma Watson. Not to be mistaken for her Harry Potter namesake, Emma is the incredibly talented founder of Little Hotdog Watson, the innovative new kidswear brand that’s taking the children’s fashion world by storm.
So without further ado, here she is to tell us more about why technology and fashion are perfect bedfellows, the trials and tribulations of juggling parenting and starting a business, as well as her top tips for budding parent entrepreneurs looking to do the same. Plus, keep reading for an exclusive first look of her new collection which just launched today and is set to be huge this holiday season!
First off, can I just say, it’s been amazing to see your business flourish over the past year, so huge congrats on all the success you’ve had to date! So tell me, what inspired you to launch Little Hotdog Watson and how did you come up with the name?
Thank you!! My daughter is my inspiration and the name Little Hotdog Watson is a nod to that. Out Little H was just 3 and a half months old when we took our first family holiday. We were so excited about going away but I ended up feeling really frustrated by the lack of stylish protective clothing available for babies. So I was inspired to develop something myself for my ‘little hotdog’ and that’s how the business was born.
What sets your range of sun hats apart from other kidswear brands on the market today?
Little Hotdog Watson products are pretty different to other childrenswear brands because we first sought to understand the problems currently faced by parents and kids before starting to design our products; we call it ‘intelligent kidswear’.
We use the latest technology, fabrics and pattern cutting to create something special. For example our sunhats have UV Protection, Buzz Off technology to safely keep mosquitos away from little heads and we use Goldilocks Fabric, which is space certified and designed to stop little heads from overheating.
On top of all this all of our products are also stylish and machine washable.
Are what plans do you have to expand your range this summer?
We’ve got lots of exciting new products launching for the 2017 Spring/Summer season. We’ve added larger sizes into the sun hat range so we now cater for kids up to 10 years’ old, and we’ve just gone live with our brand new, exclusive Tropical Leaf print.
I’m super proud to announce as well that our new sunglasses range will be launching in April too, which come with amazing protection lens, anti squint technology and special bendy arms to hold up against little hands.
What role has your previous career in the fashion industry played in developing the collection?
My background as a buyer and, prior to that, a fashion researcher has been key. I spent ten years working in the fashion industry and it really helped me focus and hone my formula for developing products. I love to research and speak to customers, parents, grandparents and children about what they want and how things can be made even better. My previous experience was in adults clothing though so I’ve still had a lot to learn. Children’s products aren’t just smaller versions; they require a lot of extra attention to detail and specialised testing to make sure they are durable and safe.
What is your personal favourite piece from the range and why?
Definitely the trailblazer hat…our baseball hat with the fin. It’s so different and really sums up the essence of the brand. It’s also the hat that parents always try to squeeze into themselves, and this always makes me smile.
As the founder of Little Hotdog Watson, what is your proudest achievement for the business so far?
This is a tough one to answer because there have been so many. When I set up the business last year, a lot of goals seemed quite far out of reach; like trade shows, winning an award or being featured in magazines. In the last few months we achieved a lot but the thing that makes me happiest is seeing a child wearing Little Hotdog Watson hats. I still get goosebumps.
What challenges did you have to overcome before launching the brand?
The biggest challenge I’ve found is constantly adjusting to new situations and being flexible. Every day I am essentially learning something new and having to juggle a different task/problem. There is so much that I’ve had to learn like trade marking, cash flow, wholesale. These weren’t things I had dealt with in my previous career, so it’s been a big learning curve.
And also, just balancing the business with real life. I started trying to research the business during the day at home while working around the baba, but didn’t quite appreciate how hard it would be. Little H always manages to time things really well!
The night before we launched she had an allergic reaction to something and we were in hospital until 1am. Yet still, we launched at 6.30am the next morning. Luckily everything worked out fine but at the time it was quite overwhelming, to say the least!
As a small business, how important is social media for growing your fanbase?
Social Media is really important but as a business it is also a full time job managing this and making sure you always look on brand. It’s been amazing for Little Hotdog Watson for building an audience but it’s about picking the social media that works for you. Instagram lends itself to picture based stuff. Linked in can be amazing though for B2B and Twitter can be great for connecting with key press people. My advice is just do one at a time don’t try to do them all when you first start.
Any tips for budding parent entrepreneurs, looking to start a new business? What does it take?
From my experience there are are a couple of things that have really helped:
– Find a support network. Go and meet other parents doing a similar thing. Starting a business can be pretty lonely and this really helps.
– Do your research, ask tough questions, what would you pay, how often would you buy this, etc? Knowledge is power…
– Work out how you plan to make money. It’s nice to have a great product but how are you going to get it in front of people…market stalls, events, influencers?
For me two tools I use a lot are Trello for helping me keep on top of things and, once I got a bit further along, Xero for online accounting. Both have saved me a huge amount of time and stress.
What are your plans, hopes and dreams for the business in 2017 and beyond?
So many exciting plans…I always like to dream big! I would love to continue growing the business internationally and introduce more product ranges. We have our first birthday coming up in May and I’m really looking forward to celebrating that, bringing together everyone who has supported us on the journey, while eating a cake shaped like a hat!
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s interview with Emma from Little Hotdog Watson! I’ve played with her products first hand at a number of trade shows and events and can give them a massive thumbs up in terms of their innovative design and durability for little heads. So, if you like what you’ve seen, you can buy her amazing collection of sun hats here and I’d highly recommend giving her a cheeky follow on Instagram and Facebook too!