If there’s a gap in your local market is it ok to copy an idea? This founder of luxury a children’s sleepover business, Muddy Boots Sleepovers thinks so.
Founder of Muddy Boots Sleepovers, CJ Hadlow was inspired on a trip to New Zealand where she was invited to a similar type of party.
Business Advice caught up with Hadlow to find out how she used her photography and social media marketing skills to ease the cost of her overhead spendings.
Who are you and what is your business?
My name is CJ Hadlow and I am the CEO and founder of Muddy Boots Sleepovers, providing luxury themed sleepover parties to children across London and Bristol. For the past 14 years I have worked as a professional photographer, a journey of which has led to me travelling and living in the UK (London), Spain and New Zealand. While living in New Zealand I also launched a social media and photography company, which within one year, had grown to a team of six people and five freelance photographers.
While visiting New Zealand over the Christmas period a friend of mine had organised a professional sleepover party with a local company, I saw the creation and it was such a unique experience for the children. My initial reaction was one of jealousy that I didn’t get a sleepover party like that when I was younger. I would, like many children of eras gone by, get a clothes rail and some bed sheets and attempt to create some kind of den or makeshift tent to sleep in with my friends.
Like a magnet I was drawn to the concept and how well I believed it would work in London, I also knew with my styling and photography experience that I could create something even more beautiful and luxurious for the sleepover offering in the UK and so I started working on the design and concept within a week.
I also had a direct channel to my audience because I already had a children’s and family photography business in London, so I knew I could use the contacts I had already made for Muddy Boots Sleepovers.
How did you come up with the concept and what was key in terms of getting started?
Working within social media has given me a great understanding and appreciation of this channel to market and the important role it now plays in the growth of businesses. In the very early stages of starting up, social media was where I focused my efforts. I also took time to create a brand and personality for Muddy Boots Sleepovers. Even for small ventures it’s so important to have a brand that reflects the ethos and aspirations of the business.
People will trust you and your business credibility if you have invested time in consistent branding and messaging which is reflected across your marketing activity, social media channels and website content etc. After I had established the look and feel of the business the website was designed and we had styled and photographed the sleepover offering (and its various packages). I then got in contact with a London PR agency to spread the word. Given that this was such a new concept to London, I knew parenting magazines and bloggers would be interested in the idea.
What makes the business unique?
This type and style of luxury sleepover party is new to London this year. The focus for me is on high-end, designer styling; on themed luxury children’s sleepover parties and I’ve even had designer, hand-made Teepees made to give the parties
a completely unique and bespoke offering. The on-trend concept has already taken off in America, New Zealand and Australia, but is very new to the UK so I knew I had to be a part of this fantastic opportunity.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?
At this stage I have been fortunate enough with my social media and photography background to have been equipped to do most of the design and setup independently which has helped with cash flow and managing overheads in the early stages of launch. My biggest challenge was to get this business to market quickly (tick) and to start shouting about our parties and telling people we are here (in progress)
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
Muddy Boots Sleepovers itself is still so new, but confirming seven sleepover bookings within the first five days of launching via Instagram, was a wonderful feeling and it is going from strength to strength every day – proving the popularity of the idea. I think having launched two businesses over the years and retaining my skills and passion for photography is also quite an achievement.
In five years’ time, I will be…
My goal is to start franchising the businesses within six months to one year. So within five years, I would anticipate that Muddy Boots Sleepovers would be operating in most of the major cities throughout the UK – watch this space.
Who are your business heroes and why?
Amancio Ortega: For one I am a huge fan of Zara clothing but I find it fascinating that a man who doesn’t even wear his own brand clothes and has no real flare for style, has created one of the largest fashion retail stores in the world. He understands the demand for ‘fast fashion’, he has new stock coming into his stores twice a week and has new ideas that go from design to shop floor in just three weeks, less than half the average time it takes most bigger retail chains.
Elon Musk: I believe Elon Musk is the ultimate definition of an entrepreneur. He helped build PayPal and when it sold, he then went on to create Tesla Motors and SpaceX to solve our dependence on oil and gain access to affordable space travel.
Jack Dorsey: Jack not only built Twitter (a billion-dollar company that revolutionised human communication), but also Square, yet another billion dollar company that has revolutionised the payment sector.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I would say, don’t be afraid to try something new but more importantly, never be afraid to get things wrong, you have to fail to succeed in life and as long as you learn from your mistakes this is all part of the process and journey as an entrepreneur.
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