How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?
In 2014 my daughter started primary school. Little did I know how annoying yet important her water bottle was going to be!
It seemed like there were just never enough hands.
She would try and carry her book bag and water bottle, and it would either leak in my bag, leak in her bag, or be dropped, with her little hands struggling to keep hold of everything. Worse still it would be forgotten all together, meaning she probably wouldn't drink any water throughout her busy school day.
I tried all sorts of things, including putting it in a sandwich bag that I hung over the handle of the book bag. This worked but didn't look great and wasn’t an ideal thing to have around young children. It also meant we were always needing to buying sandwich bags, as they’d get lost or broken.
I started searching online for other solutions but couldn't find anything. I had an idea in mind, so decided I’d do something about it. I was a single mum at the time, with no money and having never done anything like this before, but I decided it was too good an idea to just sit back and let someone else do it!
I knew if there were parents out there like me, then I had a business. I just never realised how big the demand was going to be!
When did you sell your first item on eBay?
It took me 18 months (and a lot of asking myself ‘can I really do this?’) to turn the idea into an actual business, ready to sell to customers.
I started off buying some material on eBay and got my dad to create a prototype. It then took a lot of testing and refining before I hit on the exact design I wanted to take forward. My dad used to fix parachutes in the RAF, so he was a dab hand with a needle and really helped me here. Managing to blow up his sewing machine in the process!
Finding the right manufacturer took a lot of time, as it was hard to find someone who would make a minimum amount of the product, for the right price and who were in the right location. I luckily managed to find a local manufacturer in Plymouth where I’m from, which was brilliant.
Trust was also crucial, as my idea wasn't yet protected.
I then needed to get the intellectual property rights. This didn't take long but it did cost money. Money, which at the time I didn't have, so it was a big risk for me. Expenses just had to go on my credit card.
By July 2016 I was finally ready to start selling! I decided to call my new product the ‘Bottle Buddi’ and had 1000 items made. I created a simple website and thought eBay would be the perfect channel to bring the product to market, as it’s so easy to start selling and there’s a readymade audience there.
I began by listing the Bottle Buddi in eight standard school colours, with loads of images and clear descriptions, and it didn’t take long for the first products to sell.