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Boom-time could be ahead for baby shower enterprise

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

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A mother and daughter team behind what's described as a UK first-of-a-kind retail concept are set to showcase their business blueprint at an industry exhibition next week.

Karen Colam and daughter Holly Huggins aim to attract at least six "angels" at the forthcoming London Baby Show, to help them grow their business into a nationwide network.

Their start-up, Hug & Co, is formatted around the party-plan model which has seen businesses such as Tupperware, Jamie [Oliver] at Home and Ann Summers generate huge revenues and offer flexible self-employment opportunities for millions of women.

The Hug & Co plan enables expectant parents, with the help of a rep, or 'angel' to draw up a wish-list of baby products. Like a wedding list, friends and family can buy products from it and bestow the gifts at a 'baby shower' organised by the rep at the recipients' home either before or after the birth.

Since the business was launched "on a shoestring budget" a little under a year ago, it has established links with a number of high-profile baby brands to offer around 300 items and has secured £15,000 in two separate grant funding loans sourced via the South West Investment Group (SWIG).

Ms Huggins said: "We launched the company offering our own bamboo jersey baby sling, which quickly became a bestseller.

"Mum's background is in direct selling so together we came up with the business model that will empower likeminded women to start their own businesses.

"What really surprised us is that no one had thought of this before."

The pair's business model sees angels pay an upfront joining fee and two monthly payments, with the company providing ongoing training, equipment and samples.

Reps earn 20% of everything they sell. Says Ms Colam: "We have developed the business model to be simple to learn and easy to fit around family and other work commitments. We are hoping to have 20-plus angels, with a South, South West and Midlands geographic reach within six months."

Goods will be warehoused and distributed by Helston based logistics company, 3B International: "All our suppliers are excited to be involved with a business model that effectively gives them a new outlet with every new angel we recruit," added Ms Huggins.

Start-Up loan funding via SWIG has enabled Hug & Co to commission a designer – Nick Walker of Carbis Bay-based Dissimilar By Design – to pull its branding identity together and also supported the cost of exhibiting at the baby expo.

John Peters, fund manager for SWIG said: "This business has the potential to grow quickly and is exactly what the Start-Up loans scheme is all about."

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