Wow, I can't even believe it has been a whole year since we started Hug Hampers. So much growth has happened. As I sit here now and think of all the things that have happened, how we even got here and what we have achieved. It brings a slight tear to my eye...but enough of all of that! Let's get into what we have accomplished and what we learnt!
Why we started
Hug Hampers began out of a need to find a product that represents us and our culture and as most special occasions involve people and sharing, we wanted to create something that could be shared between family, friends, partners, colleagues and loved ones. Everyone really.
As we released our product into the world, we saw the gift messages that came back; notes of care, love and gratitude. It warmed our hearts to know that our products were being used to share and express love. I remember the first request from a customer who wanted a note, it was a lovely request but it was something we were not prepared for! I ran around trying to find something suitable to write this special note on. After the second request, we went from writing these notes random cards to creating and providing our own personalised cards for every single note.
Initial business funding
Early in our business journey, we were able to take part in a programme called FUEL run by Oxford Brookes, as Jo (co-founder) is an alumnus. This was about 7-8 weeks of learning and development for running a business to prepare for a pitch where we were able to gain investment into our business. This period really helped us frame the business and think about more than just selling a product, but focusing on the wider aspects. Our final 5-minute pitch was an exhilarating experience, we spent SO long preparing and practising. It was a great opportunity to articulate our vision to the judges. We got an amazing response and more importantly, that injection into our business! We were able to invest that into our next product launch, photography and marketing. We were running this at the same time as getting ready for our mother's day launch, working, life, adulting and I am so proud that we were able to do it all.
How it started vs how it's going!
One thing I am most proud of is our development in photography. All credit to Jo! The first shoot was in my dining room in which it took about 8 hours to take the photos. Who knew it would be so difficult! I remember the sun going down and us rushing to use what was left of the sunlight. Jo spent hours and hours photoshopping the images. We were so proud of what we did and to be honest, I still am. We had an idea and we got it done! For our next launch, we knew we had to invest in a professional photographer; even our giveaways improved! Thank God for growth right?! We still have a little way to go but running a business is all about continuous improvement.
Our product launches have been the most taxing on us, I would say. We spend a lot of time thinking about what product we think our customers would like and want but also what we would like and want. We undertake surveys and focus groups, as we want to produce something that serves a purpose. We imagine how it would be enjoyed and then go out and find suppliers we believe are right for us and align with our brand. It has been a journey, with supply chain issues, increases in prices and storage issues but we are getting there. Each launch goes a little more smoothly than the last. We have created 6 Hug Hampers this year.
My favourites are the Family Hug Hamper and the most popular the Luxe Picnic Hug Hamper.
This year, we were able to donate to our first charity partner! This is something we wanted to do from the very beginning, by giving gifts to the less fortunate, so we are pleased that we committed to it. It was more challenging than we expected but we were able to put together 10 shoeboxes full of toys, hygiene products, educational materials and love for Operation Christmas Child, for children in need around the world. We also helped South Norwood Baptist Church collectively donate 300 shoeboxes. We are looking forward to finding out what country our donations went to in February. Our first year wasn't about profit, it was about the impact and making memorable moments. Our 2022 charity partner is in the works and we are excited to share that with you soon.
Running a small business is a rollercoaster and learning how to navigate life with all its different hurdles. However, doing it with one of your best friends has been such a great, warming experience. It has been amazing what we have been able to achieve in only one year and I have grown to love and appreciate our friendship even more. Jo has such a creative mind and having a business that is tangible and beautifully articulated has been able to keep me going. The challenges we've experienced has helped us grow as people and in turn the business. As we move into our second year of business, there will be different challenges to conquer but who better to do it with than your best friend!
We appreciate you
Thank you to everyone single one of you that has made Hug Hampers possible! Whether engaging with our Instagram posts, surveys, focus groups of being part of Hug Hamper Family in buying from us. We appreciate you and hope to serve you bigger and better in the future!