The mealtime struggle that inspired these working mums to create revolutionary toddler invention

by pregnancy journalist

Boots online is the latest store to stock children’s cutlery business Doddl – after just 18 months of trading from the Gloucestershire firm.

The high street giant joins an impressive list of retailers, including Amazon UK, Amazon Europe and Kiddicare, with stockists spanning across France, Spain, Denmark, UAE, China, Hong Kong and Australia.

Siblings Rosie Phelps-Goggin, 39, and Catherine Dodd, 38, came up with the concept in September 2013, after struggling to coordinate mealtimes between their young children.

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As two working mums they wanted to develop a product that encouraged children to eat independently and without parents having to feed them.

And not their business, based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, manufactures cutlery for toddlers aged 12 months onwards and supports the progression from baby-led weaning.

After a successful final quarter in 2017, it is now forecasting a £250,000 turnover by the end of this financial year.

Catherine Dodd, co-founder of Doddl, said: “It’s no secret that parents can find young children’s mealtimes a logistical nightmare.

“As a mum of three, it became much more difficult at mealtimes to feed my 15-month-old daughter when my twins were born.

Rosie Phelps (left) and Catherine Dodd (right) with Laura Thomas

“I didn’t have enough hands to feed three hungry children by myself, so the mess they created as they tried to feed themselves was a real problem.

“My sister and I were discussing how it’d be great to have a product that helps children to eat easily while nurturing their hand-eye-coordination along the way.

“We wanted to create a solution to the problem: to help other mums and dads across the country in similar situations.”

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In line with the predicted growth, Rosie and Catherine are developing two extra product lines and plan to extend distribution to North and South America in the next year.

But although they had a business idea in mind, the duo lacked the financial backing to get their initiative off the ground. After approaching The Start Up Loans Company, Catherine successfully received a £20,000 low-interest loan.

“The Start Up Loans Company provided us with a much-needed cash-injection to get the ball rolling. Since then, the business has really taken off,” said Catherine.

Shortly after securing the Start Up Loan, Catherine, a former environmental waste manager at Gloucester City Council, and Rosie, a property lettings business owner, left their roles to pursue Doddl full-time and officially launched their innovative cutlery in March 2016.

The business owners used the loan to assist with manufacturing process, as well as setting up tools and purchasing the first intake of stock.

They also worked with child developmental specialist Claire Burgess, head of research, training and consultancy at the Norland College to create soft touch points in their products, with the aim of encouraging young children’s development of motor skills while eating.

As the business has gone from strength to strength, last year Rosie and Catherine welcomed a new business partner, Laura Thomas, who specialises in global marketing.

Joanna Hill, interim CEO at Start Up Loans Company, said: “It’s fantastic to see the progress Rosie and Catherine have made with Doddl over the past 18 months.

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“Launching into Boots is an outstanding achievement and reflects the hard work and tenacity of the women behind the product.

“What’s particularly impressive is how Rosie and Catherine have responded to a problem and created an innovative design that parents across the UK can use.

“We wish Rosie and Catherine every success in what’s set to be another busy 18 months ahead.”

This content was originally published here.

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