Entrepreneur Guy Schanschieff tells FQ business how it was a sticky situation came good for him and his family as bambino mio grew exponentially
The award-winning two-piece Bambino Mio nappy system has been designed with comfort and simplicity in mind. It consists of a 100% cotton mionappy and a water resistant miosoft nappy cover. This high quality, simple and competitively priced nappy system has received over 40 awards since its launch.
Where did the inspiration for Bambino Mio come from?
Back in 1991, my wide Jo and I were travelling, and bizarrely late one night at the Taj Mahal I started talking about re-usable nappies. Upon return we set up a nappy laundry service which gave us an insight into the industry. We began to introduce the re-usable nappy and as more people bought the product, we were able to close the laundry business.
How did the business grow?
We began to sell directly to the consumers via mail order from the office which was home in those days. Then we invested in packaging and sold to independent shops. We invested in supply chain and began to use factories in China and Eastern Europe. A lot of time was spent investing in the brand, making people aware of all the benefits such as cost, health and environment. Then we took it overseas and we now sell in around 70 countries worldwide.
8 MILLION disposable nappies are thrown away each day which equates to three billion every year
Where is your fastest growing market?
Australia is growing fastest at the moment, the US market is huge, Italy, Czech Republic and France are growing quickly too. We have always remained true to being focused on reusable nappies and associated products.
Is it a family business?
Absolutely, Jo has been with me from the start and my three children have all been in the nappies and they have all been on the packaging. The elder two are relieved not to feature any more but you can still see my six-year-old modelling much to his embarrassment!
What is it about your products that really make them marketable?
Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, parents can save up to £700 every year in comparison to disposable nappies and that is the bottom line – especially in times like these.
How difficult was it juggling a young family with the business?
It’s tough, especially with both us being heavily involved. We are lucky in that geographically close. School, home and work are all within 5-10 minutes of each other. When you run your own business, it does become all-absorbing and there are tough times but there are also a lot of ups.
How big a risk was starting the business?
Starting any business is a risk but we didn’t have full-time jobs to give up and we didn’t have family responsibilities at that stage. When our eldest was born it was still new– she would be wandering around the house and we would be madly packing nappies but then we moved out of the house.
What advice would you give to parents who harbour thoughts of entering the world of business?
If you have that desire, if you want to do it then you have to get on and do it. Within our market, there is nothing quite like coming from experience – actually developing products and using them. It is possible to make your mark if you carve out clearly what you are trying to do and you carve out your brand, I think it’s easier to get your message across because people with no experience are faced with a huge market. People will take notice of advertising because they want to read everything they can to make sure they are buying the best for their little one. I think this market is as easy as any to master.
How difficult has it been to differentiate between family time and business time?
It’s one of the biggest challenges if you are as focused and determined as I am. It becomes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At least when you have children they add another dimension to life to divert away from it.
How did it feel to receive the MBE?
It was a bit of a surprise but quite humbling. I was delighted to receive it and hopefully it was awarded, not only for what we have managed to achieve with Bambino Mio in terms of the exports and establishing the category. One of the other things I do is chair Nappy Alliance – the trade organisation for real nappy producers. All the key manufacturers have come together and we effectively run a political lobbying campaign because what we do is good for nature in terms of waste reduction and we work with local councils and the government on this. A report produced by the Environment agency showed that re-usuable nappies can be up to around 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies.
10% increase in the amount of parents using reusable nappies would save the government just under £10 m in waste management costs.