Twickenham based mums Emma and Jules who collectively have five children decided to set up SKOOBANDZ after they noticed the popularity of collecting rubber bands dropped from postmen and displaying them on scooters. With what now seems to be a shortage of bands on the streets of London, SKOOBANDZ now fills the gap – so much so, that the line has been picked up by retailer JoJoMamaBebe within the first six month of launching.
WLM recently caught up with Emma and Jules:
What inspired you to start SKOOBANDZ?
We both needed to return to work with hours that suited our children’s’ school hours which meant that our previous careers were no longer suitable. We wanted to do something fun and both have had ideas in the past but never did anything with them. Scooters are a big part of our lives; it’s the best way to get from A-B with 5 kids between us without the journey being a complete mare! We used to laugh at how obsessed our kids were at finding and collecting the postmen’s dropped rubber bands and over a coffee one morning said that someone should make fun, colourful bands for children to collect. Having spent years trying to identify our children’s’ scooters in a crowded park, the bands would also help to personalise them. Rather than ignore a good idea, we said let’s try and do it ourselves.
What makes SKOOBANDZ unique?
There are lots of great scooter accessories on the market, but SKOOBANDZ are the first collectible one. Kids can choose from our funky neons, scrumptious candies and super cool glowies. Some children also like wearing them on their wrists.
Why do think SKOOBANDZ have been such a hit with kids?
They are fun, colourful and stretchy! Kids love the action of stretching the bands over their scooter handle bars but, more so, they love collecting things. They are also a perfect pocket money toy which means kids can afford them.
What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge by far has been and still is the lack of time. Whilst it’s great to be able to be around for the kids, we can only work during school hours. Childcare is expensive and sort of defeats why we did this in the first place. It’s wonderful to run our own business, but all the onus is on us which in turn means we do pretty much everything ourselves. We have had to become jack of all trades and become expert in fields we previously knew little or absolutely nothing about; manufacturing, product testing, packaging, distribution, marketing with limited budget(!), accounting, the list goes on. It is incredibly rewarding though and we both love learning and making new contacts every day. Getting SKOOBANDZ out there in the public eye when our main responsibility remains our children is the hardest challenge of all.
Can you offer any advice to women setting up their own business?
Don’t expect to earn money straight away but, if you have an idea and believe in it (and yourself), go for it! It’s difficult but not impossible. We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t stop until something stopped us. To be honest, we probably both thought that some of the obstacles we have met along the way were too big to get over but it’s amazing what support is out there. People are friendly and want to help you. There are numerous organisations in all fields that are there to help. Two heads are also better than one so if you can go in to business with a friend it’s a huge support. It’s great to bounce ideas off each other, widen the skill set and keep motivated. It also makes it more fun.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Seeing SKOOBANDZ on scooters out and about is definitely the most rewarding aspect and the response we get from children and parents when we tell them what we’re doing. We’re on a journey with SKOOBANDZ and have lots of ideas about the future of the brand. We love being in control of the decisions and just being able to make things happen rather than get bogged down in the ‘red tape’ we’ve had to endure in previous jobs. There is always something new to learn which means no day is the same and keeps it fresh.
How do you juggle kids and work?
With difficulty! We have to be very organised and plan each week meticulously, always looking ahead and begging childcare favours/swaps left right and centre. We both have very supportive families who help enormously when they can but we do have to work evenings and some weekends. Fortunately our children fit the SKOOBANDZ target market so it’s quite fun for them to be involved. They’ve often joined us at fayres or in parks giving away marketing bands to other kids (which they love!) or had an input into future designs and colours. As there are two of us, we can usually manage to get around most situations.
Favourite local thing to do as a family?
Emma – I love going to Bushy Park with my husband Jamie and our two children. It’s 5 mins from home so really easy and yet you could be in the countryside. The kids love it – great walks, lovely café, a playground and deer. What more do you need!
Jules – we have so many lovely parks in the area but one of our favourite family trips is taking a picnic to Kew Gardens. Another great day out is cycling along the river and stopping for hot chocolate and cake on route – the kids love it!
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