Bugalug Has a Grip on How to Succeed in Accessories

Bugalug, a fashionable and functional accessories brand, began when Sundi Hoffman scratched her head wondering how she could solve a problem her friend was having with her newborn’s hair clips. Born from necessity, Bugalug now offers hair accessories, pony loops, adjustable head bands, boys’ cool cuffs, and soother savers pacifier clips. Sundi candidly shares her story, including the inspiration, perspiration and celebration of Bugalug’s success.

When was your brand born, and what was the initial inspiration?

My girlfriend and I had our babies 1 month apart to the day. We spent countless hours together and I, after having two boys, loved to dress up her little girl. We bought barrettes and other hair accessories by the boat load, but nothing would stay in her fine Asian hair, so I made her some, and they worked! We had so many compliments on them as no one had seen barrettes like these before. We took them to a local craft show in April of 2006 and sold out before the show ended. I was a sales rep for baby items at the time, so I added them to my lineup and they were always the 1st things the store owners would purchase. I knew we had something great on our hands. I asked my girlfriend if she wanted to create a business with me and she opted out as she’d rather spend more time with her family. I moved forward and incorporated Bugalug in October 2006, and the rest is history!

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting?

Finding the time to do everything I had to do! My husband still wanted to see me in the evenings; my kids, and day home kids needed me during the days; so I worked from 10pm-2am every night. And I thought newborn babies wore me out!

What is one thing you would have done differently?

I wouldn’t have gone so big so fast. To go big takes a lot of capital and this was money we didn’t have, so I ended up using credit cards and such for funding. I’m still paying those off!

What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

Branding, Innovation and Taking Risks. Since day one I have branding my business at every opportunity, and with a lot of risk! It’s paid off though: people now recognize the Bugalug name and know a knock-off when they see it. This has also allowed me to expand our product lines and use the brand to represent value and trust. Some of Bugalug’s innovations have now been copied the world over!

Describe a typical new product development cycle for your business?

Oh good lord – where to start!? We are forever dreaming up new products, trying to stay ahead of the competition. Typically, one out of the three of us that do R&D will come up with something and pass it around for feedback. If it gets yeah, we move forward and do more focus groups. Typically within 3 months we are up and running full tilt!

Do “green” or eco-friendly concerns influence your business decisions, and if so, how?

Absolutely! Bugalug tries to be as green as possible, from eco-friendly printers, to recycling, to our latest eco-friendly boys cuffs, we are trying to do our part for our environment, leaving a legacy for our kids.

What is one new trend you’re seeing in the marketplace?

Although the “rocker” look is still popular, it’s certainly dying down and making way for more of an ‘80’s style, which I have a hard time with after growing up in the ‘80’s. Really, once was enough!

What types of marketing have been most effective for your business?

Our PR has by far been the best bang for our buck. We are trying to get into the social media and we’re getting there, but we still find our PR hits are by far the best for us.

How does your business make use of the Internet?

How don’t we? We target moms with social marketing such as Twitter, Facebook and Blogger. We also do ads online, which we love because we can track them! We just launched a new website, so now all of our stores are ordering online as well. Less paper waste!

What is the biggest challenge your business faces today?

Funding. Really and truly, we have so many wonderful ideas, but not the dollars to go ahead with them. We are trying hard to stay three steps ahead of the competition, as we have lots of copycats out there now, but when you’re a bigger company, serving over 400 stores, when you launch a new product you have to have thousands ready to go from day one! That takes a lot of up front capital.

What is one change/addition that’s had a positive impact for your business in the last year?

We had hooked up with a distributor last year and realized after six months, it was the biggest mistake we could have made. We took back the reigns and hired some in-house sales/customer service staff and after six months we finally feel like we’re servicing our customers the way they deserve to be serviced.

If you had one piece of advice for someone entering the children’s market, what would it be?

Be yourself. It’s a tough market, but there is lots of room for everyone, just respect everyone’s designs, don’t rip people off. Be you, make yourself stand out, don’t try to ride on the coattails of others.

More About Bugalug

Bugalug will be at the ABC Show, Booth 7419, October 10-13 in Las Vegas. Retailers that place an order at the show will receive a fortune cookie that could be a lucky cookie worth the value of the order!

Bugalug is a Canadian mompreneur company, and winner of the Savvy Mom Regional Mompreneeur of the Year Award. All items are CPSIA certified, and handmade by moms in Canada.

Bugalug products can be found in more than 375 stores across Canada and four other countries – a number that continues to grow each month. The company is also branching out into the United States and Taiwan and is looking at Japan, Australia, and South Africa. For more information and retailer information, visit www.bugalugbaby.com

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