As one of the leading wholesale suppliers to the Nappy Cake market we have gleaned lots of information on what makes some Nappy Cake businesses more successful than others and how you can be successful.
Why set up a Nappy Cake Business?
- Start up costs are low
- It can be done from home
- Its a rewarding occupation
- It can be fitted in around children or another part time job
You need to have a creative streak and lots of patience to make nappy cakes as the finished products need to visually appealing and original . You can’t copy another businesses designs – they have to be unique to you. You can use the same basic ‘ingredients’ ie blankets, soft toys etc but its the arrangement and finishing touches that make it your own signature style. Its a good idea to practice your technique and experiment lots before you start selling anything. Many people start off making them as gifts for friends and family and it grows from there. There are lots of online tutorials on Youtube as well as some we have done and practice is key. Take a look at our tutorials here:
You also need a dedicated area in the home that is clean, smoke free, dry and away from pets and food smells – it does not have to be a large space but you need to have good storage and everything easily to hand.
Research is very important before you start to invest in your business venture.
You need to ask yourself:
Who am I selling to?
This is an important question as this helps determine where you need to market your products. Nappy Cakes can be bought by all ages – friends, neighbours, work colleagues & relatives so word of mouth is a great way to start. They are usually bought as a gift for a new mother or mum to be as a Baby Shower gift.
What is your product range going to be?
If you limit yourself to just nappy cakes you may be missing out on other opportunities to sell other products. For example think about the other gifts such as Mum to be Hampers, new Dad gifts, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc. If you think about the stages of a baby’s development there are others things the new parent will need over the next 12 months that you could sell on afterwards such as development toys, baby accessories etc. Baby Shower packages, wedding shower cakes & birthday hampers are other options. Making Nappy cakes are very time consuming so it is good to have other products to sell that you don’t have to make yourself that can bring in additional revenue so you are not reliant on just one product. Unless you have someone else to make nappy cakes with you it makes it difficult to scale so its important to have other things to sell.
I often see businesses using inferior products, own brand supermarket items and poor quality ingredients to keep the cost of the cake down. You need to take a step back and think how you would feel receiving one of your products as a gift. Would you use the items yourself, would you be happy with the quality – if not then you need to change it. As a gift people like to receive something original, good quality and with a little touch of luxury that the recipient would not normally buy for themselves. It is better to keep the design simple & using higher quality products than using lots of cheap, inferior products and over embellishing with items the new Mum has no use for.
It is always worth offering a natural organic option in your product range as well as many parents are really concerned about allergies especially if eczema and asthma runs in their family.
I received a baby clothing bouquet many years ago from my husbands HR dept and the when I unravelled the items the clothing was over stretched and poor quality and my baby never wore any of it but more importantly I did not recommend the company who made it to anyone else nor did I ever buy from them. You want repeat business so quality is so important.
How can I sell/advertise my products ?
If you have Facebook page you can start informally by setting up a business page and asking friends and family to share and once you are more established you can start to advertise. Are you near any large companies that have a high proportion of female employees or friends that work at companies like this as this can be a great source of business. Once established, indoor markets or renting space in a shop can be another great way to sell but you generally need a broad range of products to make this viable. Setting up a website is important as your business grows so you can direct your customers to it. If your plan is just having a website it needs lots of investment in advertising so you need to understand how much it will cost to drive traffic to it.
Other options to sell are www.notonthehighstreet.com, Etsy, Amazon & Ebay. These all have fees associated with them but you get access to their enormous customer base and branding so its worth trialling.
Invest in a a good camera and learn to use photo editing software if you are going to sell online. Take a look at a business you admire and see how they present their products. The quality of your images is vital to your success. If you can’t do it well yourself then see if you can find a friend or family member to help that can do it more professionally – you will be surprised how willing people are to help.
Your descriptions need to be clear and your terms of business must be clearly displayed or provided so that customers understand your cancellation, returns & payment terms. Always as a minimum take a non refundable deposit that will cover your costs especially for custom items.
To help grow your business make sure you have a business card or compliment slip included with the gift and why not add a discount voucher – one for the recipient and one for the person that is gifting it to encourage repeat business.
How do I cost my products?
This is probably the most important element of your new business and one of the reasons many businesses fail to make money. You need to cost every element of your ‘creation’ not just the raw materials. You need to include your time, petrol, postage,advertising, insurance and the little elements like glues, packaging and ribbons. The national minimum wage is £7.50 per hour and you should be paying yourself at least this and this includes your time ordering /sourcing products etc so be realistic. You need to keep records of all your purchases and sundries to keep track of costs.
There will always be people selling an inferior product cheaper and those that do not cost their products realistically do not last long so don’t get hung up on what other people are charging and don’t try to compete at the lowest price. The most important element to your business is to be unique, do not copy but offer something others are not whether it be unique designs, better customer service, follow up marketing and best of all a combination of all of this!
Try to offer a set range of products so that you have repeatable designs where you know the exact cost. If you offer customisation you must price it accordingly. One of the most common reasons I see for Nappy Cakes businesses failing is due to offering too many customisable options or in some cases every nappy cake is bespoke which is almost impossible to cost and to estimate your time.
What is my break even point?
This is important – this means what is the lowest price that I need to sell the product for to recover all my costs. You need to know this to set your prices at the right level to make money.
How much do I need to earn?
This is also a very important as you need to be realistic as to how much you want to earn from the business, your initial investment needed and how long it will take to start earning an income from it.
If you are selling products to the general public you will need Public Liability Insurance to protect you in the event that some thing goes wrong. There are lots of companies that offer this and a quick check on a comparison website will help you choose or you can call a specialist broker for advice.
You will need to check with HMRC regarding tax and your business and whether you need to register. Citizens Advice & Trading Standards are also very helpful regarding any regulations regarding the product range you are selling. There are strict safety standards in place for baby products so if you physically alter a baby product in anyway it may invalidate the safety certification it has – for example decorating a soother, adding ribbons or embellishments to baby products or adding embroidery etc – you may have to get it re-certified. A simple check with Trading Standards will ensure you are covered.
Be careful not to infringe copyright laws. Do not use brand names to advertise a product you have put together ie ‘Famous Brand X’ Nappy Cake, do not use other businesses images/products to advertise or promote your products unless you have permission and do not copy other peoples designs. It is illegal and could land you in hot water.
If you are adding food products to your nappy cakes or gifts you need check with trading standards regarding regulations for labelling and packaging and for alcohol you will need a licence.
Packaging is an important consideration as you will need to make sure that your items arrive clean, dry and in one piece to the final recipient so sending one of your products to yourself is a great way to test it plus try a few delivery companies – the cheapest is not always the best!
Best of all you must enjoy what you do as this reflects on your business and success. Don’t give up at the first hurdle – keep experimenting until you find something that works for you! If you ever need advice please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will try and help or point you in the right direction.
Your success is our success!
If you want to get started we offer a low cost way to practice your designs with our Nappy Cake Starter Kits. They have everything you need to make a nappy cake apart from adhesives and nappies!