Teddy & Me was born in 2008 after Sharon Ward, herself the mum of a premature baby, discovered that it was almost impossible to obtain suitable clothing for tiny babies to wear in a neonatal setting. With the help of neonatal specialists and mums of special care babies, Sharon developed a collection of easy access garments designed to fit babies as tiny as 400g. Here’s our story…
Our first leaflet, showing the original logo
After eighteen months of hard work, stress and sheer determination we opened for business in March 2008, the very month the true scale of our countries financial woes became apparent as people queued to withdraw their cash from Northern Rock bank.
Trading from a spare room at the home of founder, Sharon Ward, within weeks Teddy & Me clothes were winning praise when Sharon was nominated for Inspirational Business Mum of the Year. The nomination came as a complete surprise, as did the interest from the press when Yell.com (the sponsors) decided to use Teddy & Me as a case study for advertising! Thankfully the hard work paid off when orders came in thick and fast, as news spread amongst hospitals about our tiny clothes.
The very first press photo and article in our local paper
ITV’s This Morning programme announced their ‘Mumpreneur’ competition in July of the same year, the search to find a mum with a fantastic business idea. Sharon’s ‘eleventh hour’ application managed to secure her a place in the regional heats and so began a journey which would last three months and ultimately change the course of Teddy & Me’s future! By October the applicants had been whittled down to just twelve and Sharon pitched her business idea live to the nation on This Morning. She won the regional semi finals and appeared in the live final on 24th October, alas losing to Baby Ballet the overall winner!
ITV’s This Morning Mumpreneur Competition
Following the show Teddy & Me were inundated with requests from boutiques to stock their clothes; although at that point we had no clear idea how we would do this, since it required much larger scale manufacturing. A meeting with mumpreneur judge, Judy Naaké, was to provide us with the answer. Having built the St Tropez self tan brand into a multi million pound company, Judy is a highly respected business woman. We were thrilled when she decided to invest in the company and become a Director in March 2009.
Left – Judy & Sharon with Baby Maya at Leicester Royal Infirmary June 2009
Right – Sharon with Annie Othen at BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire
We always try to listen to our customers and found that many were frustrated that our clothing didn’t come in larger sizes. Parents of premature babies would often buy garments in every size but then be forced to leave us once the babies reached 8lbs. As well as increasing our stock of neonatal garments we set about designing a new range of clothes which would appeal to boutiques and be available in larger sizes. We showcased the ‘Hug’s & Kisses’ range at The Baby Show, Earls Court, London in October 2009.
Judy & Sharon at The Baby Show, Earls Court
Our decision to sell clothes into boutiques turned out to be a winning one, sales increased to the point where the ‘spare room’ could no longer cope so Teddy & Me relocated to offices in Warwick, where it resided for 12 months before the need to expand again led to us moving to a unit at Holly Farm Business Park in July 2012.
Teddy & Me clothes became available through high street giant, John Lewis in the spring of 2012. The range was initially available in four stores but quickly expanded to other locations within the group plus online.
Left – Proud moment, Teddy & Me clothes go on sale at John Lewis Bluewater
Right – John Lewis Oxford St London
Teddy & Me clothes are now available in department stores and independent boutiques worldwide, with new stockists being added weekly. We remain passionate about what we do and we love working with a whole network of like-minded people, many of whom we’ve known from the very beginning.
We’re really proud of how far we’ve come in our first five years and all that we’ve achieved. We may specialise in tiny products but we have big plans for the future and hope to increase the number of stockists worldwide over the next year or so and continue to develop new clothing collections and accessories.
There is one more person we want to wish Happy Birthday to…
Our first ‘model’ baby Jack who weighed just 4lb 10oz when this photograph was taken ~ Happy Birthday Sweetpea x
To find out more about Teddy & Me, visit www.teddyandme.co.uk