Bo&Bel launched with a range of teething jewellery for mums to wear (and babies to chew on) but they soon realised dads were being left out. Here, founder Vicki Hodges writes about building a business after having twins and creating a collection for dads…
After giving birth to my twin daughters, I barely had time to brush my hair so the thought of starting up a business simply didn’t seem plausible. I’d given up my career as a sales account manager to become a stay-at-home mum to Phoebe and Isobel in 2010 but when they turned two, I started to wonder if perhaps now I might have the time and energy to put the wheels in motion.
Having always loved fashion but feeling I’d lost my sense of style when I became a mum, as many women do, I knew this would be a good place to start. I then started thinking about the fact that any jewellery I put on to jazz up an outfit would be mauled by one of the girls.
Launching my teething jewellery business
So wanting to feel good again – but needing to wear practical, baby-friendly accessories – I started to design silicone teething necklaces that are safe, stylish and would enable mums to wear jewellery again. In 2014, Bo&Bel was born. The jewellery is made from 100 per cent food grade silicone, meets EN71 regulations and can be found in 10 UK stores.
By now, the twins were at school 9am-3.30pm, which gave me a good chunk of time in the day to focus on Bo&Bel. But I do work evenings when I have an extra heavy work load with orders coming in. And at the weekend, I’d like to say I switch off but the reality of running your own business is that if something comes up you have to react to it.
Now that my daughters are in year 1 at school and go to an after school club on Tuesdays, I get a much needed extra hour once a week. I then dedicate the other afternoons to their ballet class, swimming lessons and socialising with other kids. As much as possible, I don’t let the business interfere with their routine but I get so engrossed in what I’m doing that I really need to remind myself to be present and have fun with my girls.
It’s full on going from work-mode to mum-mode when I collect the twins but I’m not alone – this is what most working mums juggle if they are the main carer of their children. Secretly I love the pressure as it helps me work more effectively.
My husband Sam is such a support. He works in PR for Twitter so we share ideas on social media campaigns. He doesn’t just help in a work sense but he’s an extremely hands-on dad and gives me time to do extra work by taking the girls on day trips when I need to go to an exhibition or trade show. In fact, it was Sam being so hands-on with the kids that made me think about launching a Bo&Bel range for dads.
Teething jewellery is for dads, too
While the focus had always been mums and babies, I realised there was no reason dads couldn’t wear some form of teething jewellery too. I’d been getting feedback from mums that their partners enjoyed wearing the necklaces so decided to launch a dads’ range of teething accessories, including five different designs of silicone teething necklaces. After all, like Sam – many modern dads play a big role in family life.
As part of the dads’ jewellery launch, I’m working in partnership with Grief Encounter; a charity supporting bereaved children and their families, for whom Jeff Brazier and Benjamin Brooks-Dutton are ambassadors. Now Bo&Bel donate 50 per cent of profits from every dads’ teething necklace to Grief Encounter.
I chose to collaborate with Grief Encounter because sadly, my own father died when I was young. So I know, firsthand, how important it is for children to get this kind of external support. Also, I had followed Jeff Brazier and Ben Brooks-Duttons’ stories (both their partners passed away, leaving them to raise the children alone) from the start and think they are hugely inspiring role models.
We created a social media campaign with Grief Encounter called You Know You’re A Mum/Dad When… asking parents to share an image of an amusing ‘day in the life of a parent’ and hashtag #YKYAMW or #YKYADW, tag us in the post and text ‘LOSS’ to 70660 to give £5 to Grief Encounter. Not only will the campaign allow parents all over the world to share in the funny experiences we have as parents but 100 per cent of those donations will go to supporting bereaved children and young people in the UK.
The last 18 months have been an adventure and I get so excited when I open an email or read a message on social media from a happy customer saying that they and their teething baby are loving my jewellery. When I hear a parent say: “Those are the Bo&Bel teething necklaces I’ve heard about and we love” I know my dreams have become reality.
For 15% off the Bo and Bel range – add EARLY in the coupon box at checkout for discount.