Since having children, so many of us have dreamt up new inventions that we think would make Mums' lives much easier. But how many of us have actually gone on to successfully launch a product, or win awards for being so great?! Jennifer Unsworth has done just that! We met up with her to find out a little more about how she changed her life during maternity leave and made a success of the Tidy Tot.
Tell us a bit about Tidy Tot
Tidy Tot is my 3rd baby, and the one that has certainly given me the most sleepless nights! It is a completely unique bib and tray kit that works with any highchair to eliminate that annoying gap between your baby and the front of the highchair tray. So no more food dropped on baby’s lap, your floor or the highchair seat! It has taken over 4 years to develop, and has been through a raft of consumer tests to make sure every single element of the product completely works; from the fit of the bib, to the colour of the tray – there isn’t one part that hasn’t been tried and tested by mums and their babies. As a result, we have a product that is easy to clean, very simple to use, portable, and a genuine time (and sanity!) saver for mum.
When, how and why did you decide to change your career?
The inspiration for Tidy Tot came 4 years ago while I was on maternity leave with my now 5 year old daughter, Chloe. I returned to work full time as an Operations Manager when Chloe was 1. Juggling work and family time, while trying to develop Tidy Tot, wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until I took maternity leave with my little boy, Tom, 3 years later, that things really gained momentum. In between nappy changes and feeds, I found a UK factory to make my product, and ran my first proper consumer trail with 43 mums and their babies. The results totally blew me away. 98% of the mums who tried Tidy Tot for 2 weeks would recommend it to another mum. As a mum myself – I realised straight away how important this was. I was so confident that Tidy Tot was a great product, but to hear other mums rate it as ‘excellent’ was just a dream come true! So instead of returning to work to the job I loved, I took a huge leap of faith and ploughed my heart, soul (and not to mention my savings!) into making Tidy Tot a success.
What tips would you give to new Mums to help them to make the most of maternity leave?
Looking back, I wish I’d have slowed down a little, and not tried to cram in as many activities, playdates and organised sessions as I did. They are great for creating a social network for yourself as much as stimulating baby, but some quality ‘mummy and baby time’ – even if that’s just reading books together on the sofa, having a run-around in the park, or having a good cuddle in front of the TV - are things I wish I’d spent more time doing.
Are there any other business mums out there who you admire?
I’ve met so many inspirational mums on this journey that it’s hard to know where to start. The one thing they all have in common, are that they are genuinely hard-working mums who have given their all to realise their dreams of getting their products to market. I’ve had some amazing help and support from Cara Sayer of Snoozeshade, Alissa Koopal of Izzy Melody, and Lucy Rathbone of Pourty Potty, as well as some of the more recognisable names including Annabel Karmel herself, who is truly inspiring and hugely motivational. All of them are mums doing the juggle, and making a very fine job of it!
What’s next for Tidy Tot?
Tidy Tot has just been awarded Gold in the Mumii Best Baby and Toddler Gear awards, which is a huge achievement and one I am immensely proud of. We’ve also recently signed with UK distribution partner Bébélephant to support our launch into the retailers later this year. You should see in the shops from November – just in time for Christmas! After that, it’s onwards and upwards, and we have a range of new products to add to the brand later next year.
If you like the sound of the Tidy Tot, find out more here: www.tidytot.co.uk/
Read our review of the super handy Tidy Tot on Maternity Leave Life here.