Founding our baby product company, Bibetta Limited, was a surprise entry in my grand career plan, but you never know which direction life will take you!
When our baby daughter was born in 2001 I was a Product Designer for a large, technology design consultancy in Cambridge creating amazingly complex hi-tech products. But after eight years I took the plunge and decided to go freelance with my engineering colleague and luckily secured plenty of work, predominantly designing card payment terminals and lab equipment. It was a bold move for anyone to go freelance, especially with a young family but I felt the time was right. I also owned a patent for an innovative ‘perfect toaster’; it used a smoke detector as a built-in caramelization sensor and was finalist in BBC’s Tomorrow’s Worlds awards.
Meanwhile in the world of babies at home I found great frustration with the poor quality of most of the baby bibs we bought for our daughter! We bought all types of traditional bibs, but they were either too hard and uncomfortable, became dirty easily, the rubber ones felt clammy and horrible or the waterproof backings would split; we had a drawer in the kitchen exploding with rubbish bibs! So I decided to design my own better quality bib.
I’m a surfer, so when I looked at the neoprene of my wetsuit I thought ‘this could be the perfect fabric; it’s 100% waterproof, slightly absorbent, very soft, flexible, safe and durable’ – at that time there was nothing on the market that had ALL those benefits in one bib. The other feature of neoprene that I love is that it maintains its shape, so I was able to add the famous, flip-out, 3D pocket on the front to catch food, which, if squashed, will spring back into shape. At last, the perfect bib!
The uniqueness of the neoprene UltraBib™ was a big factor in my decision to set up my own company. Twelve months of daily machine washing and testing in a local nursery proved the new bibs to be virtually indestructible and amazingly stain proof too; excellent news. So we patented the neoprene bib and created the brand name Bibetta, (meaning a ‘bib which is better’). Over the years we have added several distributors and they are now one of the best selling bibs on Amazon UK, Holland and Japan with healthy growth in many other countries ranging from Chile to New Zealand. My wife, Fiona, joined Bibetta later utilizing her IT work experience, which helped the company to grow in the modern world of IT and e-commerce.
It makes me really happy to know that many other parents and children can now enjoy the comfort and performance advantages of our innovative designs and fun colour ranges.
For other Dads out there with baby product ideas, my recommendation would be to do lots of research first to judge its uniqueness and see if you can protect the intellectual property. Try and find a person or company to help and mentor you. Understanding the balance of manufacturing pricing, retailer margins and the logistics costings will help solidify your business case.
If you think it will make families’ lives better and more fun then go for it!