Friends first, business partners second. Rach and Jude are the co-founders behind Bubble and Pop, a brand that offers baby changing bags for women that love to have a bit of colour in their lives.
Here, we find out more about how they balance their business and personal lives, plans for the future and more…
Tell us about the journey that lead to you launching Bubble and Pop…
When I was pregnant with my second baby, I decided to treat myself to a new baby bag as my first one had ripped after just a few months. I really love bright colours, so I wanted something vibrant, fun, spacious and a little bit different. I also wanted a bag that would help me stay organised as I am ridiculously scatty and forgetful. After an hour or so of trawling through a lot of grey, navy, baby pink and polka dots I gave up my search as I just wasn’t getting excited about any of them.
The next day (I’m a fast mover!) I decided that if I couldn’t find a bag I really loved, I would just design my own! I talked it through with my husband and he came up with the idea of creating a pocket labelling system, so I would always know just by glancing in the bag if I had all the essentials. This was so important for me. Getting a baby out the door can be such a faff and I was always getting flustered and forgetting the basics like nappies and wipes. I knew that being able to set my bag up in a way that suited me and having a visual cue of all the things I needed would really help me. It’s all about the system!
I put together a quick business plan, emailed it to Rach and asked her if she would come on board as the organised half of the enterprise. Thankfully, she said yes!
Rach and Jude, you both founded this company together along with being best friends and cousins. How do you balance your relationship so that everything isn’t just about work?
Having fun is something Rach and I do very well, and we have had some hilarious adventures over the years! When we do see each other in person, we make sure that there’s time set aside to talk business and then it’s back to hanging out and catching up. Rach lives in the Caribbean and I live in Brighton so we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like anymore. However, we did have a fantastic trip to New York for Rach’s birthday last year and after chatting about our latest design for about twenty minutes we got down to the serious business of shopping, eating gigantic bagels for breakfast and enjoying that very special New York vibe. Rach lived there for 18 months so she knows all the great little spots for lunch and dinner that I would never have discovered. We’ve always been good travel buddies, which is why I had a feeling we’d make a great business team.
You sound like you balance each other out perfectly. Have there been any disagreements since launching the brand and if so, how did you handle those?
I can honestly say, we haven’t had any so far! We have very similar sensibilities when it comes to design so creating our first collection really was a joyful experience. Rach has a great eye for detail and she’s also very practical, so when I get carried away with the novelty of an idea, she’ll be the one to say ‘yes, but Ju, who would actually use that?!’
Tell us about the Ollie and Ella collection, where did the idea come from?
There were two things we wanted to do with our first collection. The first was create a bag that was spacious, practical and functional that really helped you stay organised when you were out and about with baby. There’s nothing worse than being caught out by a poop emergency (all mums and dads will know the kind we mean) and not having everything you need to hand immediately! With our pocket labelling system and easy access zips, you can get to the essentials like wipes, nappies and clean clothes with minimum faff.
The second thing we wanted to do was create a collection that was bright and vibrant with lots of colour and patterns that were a little bit different. As a parent you spend a LOT of time with your baby bag, so you really have to love it. Our designs won’t be for everyone, but so far, the people who love them really do love them!
When you were students, you traveled a lot. Where was your favourite trip and why?
Oh, there have been a lot of fun trips! Our first big trip together was to Australia in 2000, the year that Sydney hosted the Olympics. We had such an amazing time both in Sydney and backpacking down the East Coast from Queensland. We went diving on the Great Barrier Reef, trekking through rainforests, drank a lot of cheap beer and narrowly escaped an encounter with a saltwater crocodile. Long story short – we were down on the beach one evening drinking wine from plastic cups and wondering why the beach was so deserted on such a gorgeous evening. We discovered the next day that it had been evacuated as a saltie had been seen roaming about on the sand hunting for his next meal. We were totally oblivious!
Looking back since founding the company, is there anything you would do differently?
No. I think you have to be incredibly brave and a little bit nuts to start your own business and I have such admiration for anyone who takes the leap of faith to do it. Mistakes are part and parcel of the process and you just have to ride them out and learn from them. ‘Chalk it up to experience’ is a phrase we have used quite a lot in the last couple of years. Along with, ‘we’ll get there!’
Your baby bags are really unique and help women showcase their personalities. Do you plan on expanding the range in the future?
Yes, absolutely. We have big plans for lots more collections for both parents and children. Another baby changing bag is on the cards – most likely a rucksack design for the next collection – and we’d love to design a range of travel bags as well. We both live away from home and travel a lot with our children to see Granny and Grandad, so we know how important it is for little people to have luggage they can manage and for mum and dad to have a bag that works for the aeroplane.
In 2020, what are your plans for the brand?
Our big focus for 2020 is to start getting into independent boutiques and expand into markets outside the UK. We’ve had such lovely feedback from all our customers so far, which has given us a great confidence boost and the courage to start thinking bigger. It’s very early days still but we really want as many people as possible to discover our bags.
For anyone looking to launch their own business, what advice would you offer?
Firstly, and most importantly, you have to absolutely love your idea and your product. As in, really love it. We’ve had days and weeks where it has felt like pushing a boulder up a hill but we knew we had a great product that people would love and we have both thoroughly enjoyed the process of designing it. That kept us going on the ‘what were we thinking?’ days!
Don’t do it on your own! Having someone to pick you up on the down days and bounce ideas off is so important. It also helps to keep you accountable and on track with everything. Even if you don’t want to work with a business partner, I’d recommend hiring a mentor to help you get clear on your strategy and cheer you on when the going gets tough.
Don’t make any decisions when you’re tired or emotional! Come back to it the next morning with a fresh head.
Don’t work yourself to the bone. Yes, building a business requires hard work, grit and determination, but there’s no point having an awesome business if you’re too tired or burnt out to enjoy it. Rest, go at a pace that works for you and trust the process.
Celebrate all the little wins. This one is so important. The to-do list is never ending and it’s all too easy to focus on the things you haven’t done or achieved yet. Take every lovely review or piece of feedback, every tagged Instagram post, and every single sale as proof that you’re doing great and moving in the right direction.
Both mothers, wives and entrepreneurs. How do you create a work / life balance?
This is definitely tough in the early stages of building a business as there is always something you feel you should be doing. Boundaries are so important though, and remembering that when you’re with the kids, you’re Mummy not business woman, and when you’re with your partner, you’re Jude or Rach – the person they fell in love with when sleep was plentiful and leaving the house wasn’t a military operation!
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
Jude: South Africa for the wildlife and the wine!
Rach: So many places on my bucket list but for 2020 we’re hoping to do some Greek island hopping for a couple of weeks.
Tell us your favourite quote to read when you are lacking motivation…
‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’
I love this Mary Oliver poem. Life is so short, so precious and such an incredible gift. Give it everything!
Find out more about Bubble and Pop…