As a business focussed specifically on nursery essentials for babies and toddlers, Hippychick made the decision to carry on trading through lockdown. ‘New parents are always vulnerable – but lockdown made their experience significantly more challenging. Being forced into isolation meant many had to birth without their partners, and struggle through the first few challenging months without assistance from friends and family. For that reason, we decided that the Hippychick show must go on.’
In order to observe strict social distancing regulations, the company had to exist on a much-reduced work force, going from 13 to 4 overnight.
Founder, Julia Minchin found herself at the epicentre of the business, plunged full pelt into every area of the various processes, from cleaning the office to picking and packing in the warehouse.
“Of course I was hands on when I first started Hippychick 21 years ago, but as businesses grow, one inevitably becomes slightly detached from the day to day detail.” And for good reason, too. It’s important for those at the helm to see the bigger picture so they can steer a business into the future.
Though lockdown has been the most challenging journey Hippychick has ever undertaken, it’s also been particularly inciteful and has given me a new and fresh perspective. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned in lockdown.
- That suddenly being thrown back full pelt into the warehouse is like being on the front line. It’s non-stop and carries huge responsibility. We all know the feeling of rising excitement when a parcel is delivered. And if it looks nice, it’s even more exciting and that says so much about your brand. Attention to detail at this stage is so important. We’ve introduced branded ribbon and tape. And smaller items are hand wrapped in gold tissue paper. Every baby is special so every Hippychick parcel has to look special, too.
- That picking up the phone in the office is one of the best ways to ensure your finger is always on the pulse with the ever-evolving needs of new parents.
- That life is entirely unpredictable, and you never know what it’s going to throw at you. You have to be agile, adaptable and flexible, and ready to adapt your business to a changing environment very quickly.
- That we have an unbelievably loyal team of people. People show their true colours in a crisis and every single one of ours has come up trumps. We did sadly have to furlough some of the team but they still supported us from afar. Bottles of wine and deliveries of pizzas from some of the team really helped when we were working through the night trying to get so many orders out.
- That it is possible to work from home. Working away can help you to better focus on the job in hand. If you’re in the office all the time, you tend to get involved in other things, which perhaps aren’t always necessary to your job role.
- That despite having to work round the clock, my children who were all at home, still expected the dishwasher to empty itself.
- That Heart FM, playing 24/7 in the warehouse, seriously needs to expand its repertoire of tunes.
- That bringing a lunchbox from home is a much more cost-effective option.
- That our policy of having plenty of stock in the warehouse really paid off. Whilst most of our competitors were struggling to get deliveries in from abroad, Hippychick’s shelves were stacked to the gills so we were able to continue fulfilling customer orders without delays.
- That trying to spread manufacturing amongst many different countries has been the best decision we ever made. We are not reliant, as so many businesses are, solely on China.
- The significance of rainbows as a symbol of hope.