We are very lucky that there have been so many people and companies that have rallied round during our Dribble Stop journey. But there is one company, that without their help and support, the Dribble Stop Top may not have ever got to where it is today. Our Manufacturers and partners – Casa Chicos.
Let me rewind to when the realisation dawned on us that the dream of getting our Dribble Stop Top to market was fading fast.
We had made the first few prototype dribble stop tops ourselves, using an old sewing machine, cut up baby vests and tops and material that we had sourced from the internet. These were fine for Jude to wear or for our friends babies to trial – but wonky stitching, puckered seams and hideous amounts of unpicking meant there was no way we could charge money for them!!! Besides which, not being accomplished seamstresses, each top took hours to make – so there was no possibility that we could make them ourselves – we needed a manufacturer!
Casa Chicos had been recommended to us from a Buyer in Miniclub. We were told they were well known and respected Baby-wear Manufacturers who supplied to big names such as Tesco, Babies R Us and Amazon and as luck would have it they were only 20 minutes down the road from us – surely that had to be a good omen, but would they be interested in small fry like us?
After googling them and looking up their number, we gave them a call. Peter Robinson the MD answered – I can remember being really nervous before calling them and had written a rough script of what I wanted to say. I tried to explain about our idea (without giving too much away), but after babbling on I am surprised he didn’t think I was a complete fruitcake. But Peter was really friendly and helpful. He seemed genuinely interested and a meeting was arranged.
Needless to say the meeting went well. Peter and his team saw past our home-made tops and jittery Powerpoint presentation and they loved our idea! But for any collaboration to work the 3 P’s were needed. PASSION, PERFECTION AND PATIENCE and luckily Casa’s had all 3!
PASSION – from that first meeting, Casa Chicos could see how passionate we were about our Dribble Stop Tops, but for this partnership to work they had to share some of this passion. Fortunately they did. They believed in our product right from the word go and were willing to risk not only their time, but also support us financially – a risk not many companies would be willing to take, I am sure. Casa’s could see the benefits of our tops and the gap in the market that they could fill.
PERFECTION – Tracy and I are perhaps not the easiest people to work with! Along with our passion comes our desire for perfection – we are very fussy. We knew our top had to be perfect before it hit the shops. There were no half measures. ‘OK’ was not good enough, ‘a slightly drier chest’ wouldn’t cut it – we wanted perfection. Casa’s understood this and totally agreed that everything had to be 100%.
The quality of the tops was never going to be an issue, as Casa’s had explained to us from the offset that they only made ‘quality goods’ and that ‘cheap and cheerful’ was not their thing. We all wanted our tops to be beautifully made and be of the highest quality that would last. (And this is something that since our tops have launched has been remarked on a number of times). However, to get perfection meant a lot of trial and error. I can’t remember the number of samples that were made trying to get the neck line high enough for maximum coverage of the dribble zone, whilst still incorporating the required neck stretch. Or the number of different materials used in the search for the ‘perfect pocket’ before we eventually discovered the most amazing fabric that did everything we wanted it to do – which was a pretty tall order. The best binding for around the neck and armholes, the added vents under the armpits to ensure no chance of overheating, the placement of the poppers on the shoulders – every detail of our tops has been thoroughly thought out – all bases had to be covered until everything was PERFECT!
And finally, PATIENCE. Not only have Casa’s been patient whilst we reviewed and re-reviewed our tops, designed and then re-designed our packaging and tweaked and modified just about everything that could be tweaked and modified. But they have also had to be very patient with US.
We have always been totally upfront and honest about the fact that we had very little knowledge (ok, no knowledge!) of the baby-wear manufacturing industry. But never have Casa Chicos made us feel stupid or inadequate – in fact quite the opposite. They have always explained FOB’s, MOQ’s and all the other manufacturing jargon to us in a very easy to understand way and always answered any questions or queries we have had. They have armed us with the knowledge we needed to face Buyers without making ourselves look stupid and have always been just a phone call or email away if we needed their help and advice.
To this day the care, guidance and financial support that they have given us has been invaluable. Their experience and expertise in their field has helped us endlessly and they have always somehow made us feel safe and really taken us under their wing.
We also had to learn to be patient – which for us was very difficult, as we are both very impatient people who want things done NOW! When dealing with factories in China and sending samples back and forth to be modified, nothing is ever quick. We had to learn that everything shuts down for a month when it is the Chinese New Year and that things don’t happen overnight.
So yes, there has been a lot of patience on all sides.
But, as the old saying goes – Patience is a virtue that is always rewarded! – here’s hoping 😀