Start-Up Stories – Good Bubble
We had to absolute pleasure of heading across to the Good Bubble HQ and chatting with their founder, Amy Wordsworth, about all things start-up life. Check out what advice she has for budding entrepreneurs in consumer goods and how her experience helped throughout her journey so far…
What’s your background? How did you come to start Good Bubble?
My background is in advertising and marketing. I did an advertising and marketing degree at Uni. I went on to work for Saatchi (the advertising agency) on mainly their Procter & Gamble accounts and Diageo as well. I’ve also grown up in a family business manufacturing toiletries. So, shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, anything you see there and they’ve been going for about 30 odd years now. I worked on the line during the school summer holidays, earning my pocket money, filling bottles and topping them off.
I learnt a lot about the production process while we were working in Saatchi’s and spotted a gap in the market for a fun, yet skin friendly kid’s brand. It felt like, at the time, you had your colourful character based products that kid’s loved but that weren’t so kind to the skin. Then you had your lovely organic, lavender, chamomile products, that were kind to the skin but the kid’s didn’t really engage with.
So, I got the expertise here to create a really mild formulation and then worked with a children’s illustrator to create characters. Dexter Dragon Fruit and Clara Cloudberry. Dragon Fruit and Cloudberry are our main fruits, to really bring the brand to life, and that’s where it all started. That was in 2014.
“In 2015, I went on Dragon’s Den, bit of a roller coaster in there, but it was worth it in the end”.
Yeah, I caught the episode. I’m a big Dragon’s Den fan. As soon Farran mentioned it, it rung a bell!
It was nerve-wracking, but it was worth it. Deborah came onboard and she’s still a fantastic ambassador of the brand.
Do you see much of her?
She doesn’t visit loads but we go down to see her probably four times a year, have a two hour quarterly meeting, talk strategy and the general direction of the business. Then she’s quite trusting to give us freedom to work on a day to day, to just crack on and do things where we see fit.
That’s cool. I’m keen to, just jump back to your experience at Saatchi, because I know a few people who’ve worked there, and it’s sort of, a mixed bag, everyone says they’ve learnt so much but they drive them really hard.
Do you think your experience there really helped you when you established the brand?
Definitely. I got my job through Saatchi’s by pitching myself in a lift to the company directors for 30 seconds. As part of their grad scheme you had to queue up outside the office and you had 30 seconds, in an actual lift, with three of their company directors, to persuade them to give you a place on their internship scheme. It was pretty full on and you really had to prove yourself. You had to be quite creative in the way that you were doing it and as a creator you can see that’s what they were looking for. So, got that place and then was given a full-time position. They set the standards from the off and you do have to prove yourself but it makes you challenge yourself to be the best that you can.
Definitely. How do you think that experience has helped you when you’ve come to starting the brand?
Well, I think I gained a lot more insight into the creative side, into the design, the whole design process, that I really didn’t know anything about it. I don’t have that kind of eye. Just to understand more about how it all works from a design perspective really helps. As well the whole market research side. I was a planner, did a lot in the strategy/research side and was able to understand the customer a bit more, what they’re looking for, identify what is on the market and where gaps might be.
Would you have found it a lot harder than if you had not had that experience?
A lot of people just jump into it, don’t they? But, from the mentors I’ve had in the past, they’ve always said get a few years experience where you can learn a lot and then go.
Definitely. It gives you that confidence as well. You know, it’s starting your own business, it’s a completely different lifestyle, completely different mindset to working for a company and it’s taking that jump and knowing that I’ve worked for a company and think ‘this is what I’d do differently and trying to make that happen in your company’.
What’s the vibe like in the Good Bubble office?
It’s pretty chilled. There’s only four of us so we’re quite close knit.
“Sometimes it can get quite high pressured so you have to work hard and know how to work under that pressure. We’re all hands on.”
There’s a lot going on, as a growing company. Everyone’s got a lot to do, but it’s just managing that and as long as you can keep it running it’s all good.
It’s definitely a certain type of person that you need in a start up.
Yeah. Exactly. Just to get stuck in, really.
I don’t think job roles really exist in start ups!
No, exactly. The roles are becoming more defined, I’ve been spinning so many plates, wearing so many hats, and that’s what’s been great about Aimee coming on board. It’s that she’s been able to really define that role and give it the attention and love that it needs.
In terms of some big challenges you have, have you come into work one morning and thought, “Oh my god, how are we going to sort this out?”.
Yeah, we always have challenges especially now as we’re due to launch a new baby range. We always have challenges with production, trying to make sure that the look is right, that the materials are spot on. There’s always something that needs tackling and sometimes it can feel like, “Oh my god, how am I going to… I don’t even know where to start”. You are making it up as you go along, a lot of it. As a small business, you’ve not come across a lot of the problems before. So it’s just starting somewhere and then overcoming it as a team, asking everyone’s opinion and that usually helps drive it.
So, in terms of the future for Good Bubble, what’s the plan for the next 12 months? What’s the plan for the next 5 years, 10 years?
This year is really about growing the brand, establishing ourselves as the lead skin friendly and planet friendly, baby and children’s toiletries brand. We’ve got a new range that we’re really excited about, it’s very innovative in its packaging and it’s got a much lower carbon footprint than any of the alternatives on the market. We’ve got our products and now it’s selling it, and it seems that it’s had some really good feedback so, growing the brand in the UK and then wider, as well, on an International level.
What sort of challenges have you faced developing the packaging? I’m big for reducing carbon footprints, and being environmentally responsible. But a lot of people I speak to are like, “It’s so expensive,” or, “We can’t find the right people to buy it from”. How did you get that balance?
“I think you have values and you have standards as a brand. You make a conscious decision that you’re going to spend a bit more on the right kind of materials because you have a responsibility.”
We’re a baby and children’s toiletries brand, this is our next generation, and we have a responsibility to leave the Earth in a good place for them. We really should practice what we preach so, it’s a no brainer for me to spend a bit more on good quality packaging and I think today’s parent will pay a bit more for it. You appreciate more the impact that it has. It costs a bit more because it’s better, and I think people are willing to pay for that.
It’s like anything isn’t it? Anything that costs more is normally better quality.
Exactly. We can work with our margins because we manufacture in-house. Some of our products are cheaper than our competitors but are as good, if not even better. But that’s because we’ve got our supply chain rather than, ‘we’re making a cheaper product’. It’s a balance about being affordable and accessible, but getting that quality across and letting the customer know.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Definitely. Yeah, I’ve thought so many times “I could earn so much more money working for another company”, “why am I doing this?”. But that is less and less, as you see the brand grow, and you see the opportunities that are there.
Do you think you are always going to keep it in-house as well?
Yeah, I think so. It’s a family business, it works well here and it’s made in the UK. It’s going to fly a flag for the economy and there’s no reason to ship it elsewhere, for the time being. If we start producing millions of units we might need to look for another warehouse or something, some sort of storage but no, it’s fine where it is for now.
If someone was starting a new consumer goods brand, what one piece of advice would you give to that person?
That you need to be resilient, you need to be able to take the knock backs and have a thick skin because it’s not easy and that as with any business, it’s hard, it’s harder than you think it’s ever going to be. But then it’s more than joy, I get more fulfillment and motivation from this than I think I do anything else. It’s what drives me, so yeah, just take the knock backs but have faith that it will come good in the end!