Introducing Claire from Chillipeeps – the inventor and founder of the Chillipeeps 3in1 Teats and Spouts that attach directly to all ready-made formula cartons (including SMA and HIPP, Aptamil Cow&Gate, Fortini and Infatrini ready-made 200ml formula bottles and Evian and Volvic water bottles, the perfect convenience when you are out and about and want to feed and rehydrate your baby.
Claire tells us how she does it all, from an initial idea to bringing a product to market while mingling on social media, parenting, giggling in the office and sitting on the loo 🙂
We also have a cheeky little offer code for you all – Use YOURBABYCLUB for 10% off at www.chillipeeps.com
Why and when did you start Chillipeeps?
My husband Rob and I were heading out to a family party to introduce Mimi to the family and we were late. We’d just set off in the car and I couldn’t remember if I picked up the clean sterilised bottle I’d prepared to feed the carton of ready-made formula milk. I asked Rob if he had, he hadn’t so I got him to climb over the seat and as he was rummaging through the baby bag, I ranted ‘Why hasn’t anyone invented anything that can directly attach to the carton?’
We had the bottle, went to the party and came out about six hours later, where I said ‘I can’t stop thinking about it’ Rob asked what, he’d already forgotten. I wondered if anyone had invented anything, after all, we were new first time parents and we didn’t know what was out there. So we talked about it all the way home and researched the internet that night, couldn’t find anything, so emailed Peter Jones from the Dragons Den the same night and told him we had the next big thing and to please call us.
He didn’t call but we got an automated email back immediately that thanked us for our enquiry and asked us to fill in a form if we’d protected our idea and if we hadn’t yet, steps to take to protect and patent it. The following day I took his advice and organised a free meeting with a patent attorney where the Chillipeeps journey began.
How did you come up with the name Chillipeeps?
Chillipeeps was actually a URL I bought 14 years earlier to use one special day. The day I came out of my free patent attorney meeting I knew I was going to start a business and needed a company name. I contacted my husband’s accountants and asked if I could be Chillipeeps Ltd, they checked and we could, so Chillipeeps was born.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Chillipeeps has had many challenges, the biggest was not knowing what we were stepping on to, we thought we’d be in the shops in 6 months, it took 4 years! Mainly because that is how long it takes, and we didn’t know the next step or have the money for that step. The second biggest was launching a brand from stand still, this is a huge challenge and takes time and real effort, we weren’t allowed to advertise our first product as it was a teat and this meant that we had to grow by word of mouth, which is even more difficult.
What has been your funniest moment, so far?
My funniest business moment was when I was in a big open plan office with about 40 people in, I was calling a company to ask for their advice. I called and said ‘Hello, I was wondering if you could HOLD me’ at which point the whole office I was in, burst out laughing, the woman on the other end of the phone started laughing, and I was laughing so much I couldn’t speak, so just apologised and said goodbye. A few hours later when we’d all stopped laughing I had to call again, as I still needed the companies help. I rang, the same lady answered, I said ‘hello, I was hoping you could help me’ at which point the woman said ‘were you the lady that wanted holding earlier?’ we both had a good giggle over it and she helped me. A very funny moment, that still makes me LOL!
What is a typical day like at Chillipeeps HQ?
A day at Chillipeeps HQ, involves a lot of learning and talking to myself, it starts and ends with checking emails (thank goodness for iPhones) and in between involves innovating (this is my favourite bit), dealing with distributors, suppliers and helping consumers, sending out orders and mingling on social media to making cuppas. Every day is different from the minute I wake, to the minute I go to sleep, seven days a week.
What are your dreams for Chillipeeps?
My dreams for Chillipeeps haven’t changed since that first day when I came up with the idea, I want Chillipeeps to make a difference to many in the consumer market and in humanitarian aid.
Initially I dreamt it would pay off my mortgage and the first cheque I wrote said ‘the mortgage’ and I framed and hung it for inspiration. I still dream of that, but more important is to pay off everything we had put in to bring it to market to date, then the mortgage!
How is your work/life balance?
Work/life balance what is that? LOL there is no balance, I work to live and live to work, my work is my life and my life is my work 24/7.
What has been your proudest moment?
My proudest Chillipeeps moment was becoming the Overall Winner of the Baby Products Association Concept and Innovation Awards when I was just a prototype, this gave me the confidence to take the product to market, which was my next proudest moment, the day we could actually sell the product.
My most recent proudest moment was when my daughters head teacher said to me, Mimi is so proud of both you and your husband and the work you do. She talks with pride and admiration about you both.
What tips would you give someone else wanting to start their own small business?
Don’t do it, I always say that! I also say take out shares in hair dye and loo roll, because you will go grey and sit on the loo a lot. Find what makes you beautiful, your USP. Keep it simple, then you will be able to manufacture it at a price that the consumer will be willing to pay for it.
No really, with starting any business you are about to step on a rollercoaster ride of a life time with highest highs and lowest lows, so please understand the project journey before you step on, timescales and costs from start to market and beyond, that way you know exactly what you are stepping on to, because once that ride, starts you can’t get off until it stops.
You only have one life and this is your time, so go for it, if I can do it, you can too! Good luck!