British Small Business Awards winners: Guy Schanschieff of Bambino Mio

At last year's British Small Business Awards, Guy Schanschieff won the Exporter of the Year gong for his reusable nappy company, Bambino Mio. He talks to about how the company has grown since he won the award.

The 2018 British Small Business Awards (BSBAs), held at the Royal Lancaster, London on October 31st, will bring together the UK’s best small business with the advisers and financiers that helped them succeed.

In the latest of a series looking at the fortunes of last year’s winners, we speak to Guy Schanschieff, founder of reusable nappy company Bambino Mio, about how the company has got on since winning the Exporter of the Year award in 2017.

What is the background of the company?

My wife and I were travelling at the time; we met an American at the Taj Mahal in 1991. We got talking about a reusable nappy laundry service offered in New York and that was it, the seed of an idea was sown.

On returning to the UK, we set up a reusable nappy laundry service from our home in Northampton, and although the laundry service showed slow growth, we were convinced reusable nappies were the way forward.

It became apparent that reusable nappies were increasing in popularity, but the demand of a laundry service was limited as parents soon realised how easy they were to wash themselves and how much money could be saved by doing so. As a result, in 1997 we closed the nappy service and started to manufacture and sell reusable nappies and associated products, and so Bambino Mio was born.

What is the USP?

I would say there are a number of things that make us unique; I think we are the only reusable nappy brand to offer the most comprehensive range of quality products, offering parents everything they need to use reusable nappies and beyond from birth through to potty training.

We work hard in creating and selecting our product designs and we’re very proud to offer parents style as well as sustainability when choosing Bambino Mio. Our Brand is available all around the world and in a variety of different retailers.

Guy and Jo won the Exporter of the Year award at the British Small Business Awards 2017

We really are working towards #makingclothmainstream to make it easier for any type of retailer to work with us.

How has Bambino Mio grown since it began?

From humble beginnings in 1997, we have grown to become an international market leader and one of the most widely used brands in the reusable nappy industry, selling in over 50 countries worldwide.

One of the key areas that continues to demonstrate Bambino Mio’s ongoing efforts and success is the brands growing turnover. In 2017, turnover increased by 25 per cent year on year, exceeding targets and reaching £3.4 million by the end of the financial year. Online sales have tripled in the last year and our global social reach now exceeds 100,000 followers.

It’s been a brilliant 2018 so far with April being our highest grossing month ever since the business started 20 years ago. We’re on track to hit our forecasted turnover of £7.2 million by the end of the financial year.

When Bambino Mio launched only 2 per cent of parents were using reusable nappies and now over 30 per cent of parents try reusable nappies, with a third of parents switching to cloth nappies. It’s safe to say that Bambino Mio have played a vital role in this positive shift.

This is a truly incredible achievement, especially bearing in mind that this is a very niche product category and the fact that the brand’s core values are still intact and at the forefront of everything that Bambino Mio does.

How did you find out about the British Small Business Awards (BSBAs) last year and how did you find the nomination process?

We spotted the opportunity online and because we were (and still are) really proud of being a small British business and of the success that we’d achieved to date, we thought we’d go for it and enter the 2017 awards – we’re very glad we did!

The nomination process is easy to navigate and we have entered again this year for the next round of BSBAs.

How important is to recognise the small business community and its significant contribution to the economy?

It was a fantastic event and great to see so many small businesses recognised for their efforts and celebrating success.

Being named the Exporter of the Year in 2017 was a great achievement which we’re extremely proud of. Small businesses have to work extremely hard to be stand out and be noticed; this award marks our success and recognises that Bambino Mio’s export strategy has gone from strength to strength, showing us that our hard work is paying off.

How has the business performed since the win? Did you get interest or feedback about it from suppliers, partners or customers?

Business has been booming since the win – we’ve been busy with the launch of our new Rainforest design collection for 2018 which launched on 1st June and is performing well.

Bambino Mio won Exporter of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2017

The general growth that our product category has continued to see over the last year has been incredible. Bambino Mio, along with many other great reusable nappy brands have helped to drive the market forward and really helping to spread the word, change attitudes and #makeclothmainstream!

The achievement has been really well received, with customers, retailers, suppliers and fellow industry bodies passing on congratulations for the win, which is much appreciated.

Overall, what can you say about the experience of winning an award like this in terms of the impact it can have on a small business?

To come from humble beginnings and win awards alongside other small businesses that we admire is incredible for us.

We have won over 60 awards to date, from awards voted for by parents and customers selecting our products, to the business awards where we are identified as key players within our industry. The pride that we feel from being recognised is still as exciting and appreciated today as it was when we won our first business award.

With more export opportunities on the horizon, being named Exporter of the Year 2017 will help us to stand out in front of retailers and key markets – we’ll also have a higher chance of cut-through in new emerging markets such as the Middle East, South America and India.

Winning awards such as this makes us hungry to continue to drive this market and not just on our own products. We were one of the first brands to introduce reusable nappies into mainstream retail outlets and countries where they were not previously popular because the more people are educated about reusable nappies, the closer we come to moving away from single-use plastics.

The brand is extremely proud of its positive contributions to date and continue to strive to make a difference – one reusable nappy at a time.

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.