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Don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high - risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong. Take 2 mins to learn more

Interview with Laura Crawford, founder and CEO of Mama Bamboo

Mama Bamboo develops a range of nappies, wipes and packaging made from organic, sustainable bamboo. In 2021, a share offer on the Triodos crowdfunding platform raised £600,000 for the brand – providing vital working capital and funds to support product development. We check in with Laura Crawford, founder and CEO, on current progress and what’s next for Mama Bamboo.  
  • Blog

- 9 December 2022


Did you know that a baby will get through an average of 6,000 nappies and over 20,000 baby wipes before they are potty trained? Most of these are made of single-use plastic and processed with harsh chemicals, which can be frustrating for sustainably minded new parents.

Mama Bamboo is on a mission to do things differently and reduce the negative impact this waste can have on the planet by creating more sustainable alternatives. In 2021, Triodos Bank helped Mama Bamboo raise £600,000 of equity investment to invest in marketing and technology to help grow the business. We spoke with founder Laura Crawford to find out about the challenges of running a growing business in these uncertain times.

2022 has been a tough year for many of us and a large number of businesses. How has Mama Bamboo fared this year?


It's been tricky! The impact of Covid, plus the war in Ukraine, on the world freight market hit us hard. The average cost for an ocean freight container rose from $3,000 to $14,000.

Obviously, we couldn't pass all those costs to our consumers, so we made the difficult decision to curb our growth and slow down our business until the crisis abated. We served our existing subscriber base and reduced marketing to allow for a trickle of new clients to replace natural attrition. As a result, our revenue plateaued for 12 months, but it was the right decision. 


Since late summer, freight costs have plummeted to around $4,000 a container. We are now ready to turn up the dial on marketing again and return to our growth curve. 

We spent time during the crisis focusing on making our business more efficient and preparing our brand for rapid expansion in 2023.

We rebranded, with new packaging to launch in March 2023 alongside our EU expansion. We’ve also made improvements to our website to make it more user friendly and increase conversion, which will launch in January 2023. We’ve also streamlined and improved the cost efficiency of our UK operations. We revisited every aspect of the logistics under our control and have improved cost effectiveness by around 30%. The main contributor to this saving is the shift away from using our own warehouse for picking and packing orders and partnering instead with a larger established service. So, all in all, we are well-positioned for growth going into 2023.

How is the cost of living crisis affecting Mama Bamboo? Are you noticing a change in consumers’ buying habits?


We’ve seen an increase in potential clients citing price as a barrier to using eco-nappies, rather than cheaper supermarket brands. But once clients see the health benefits for their children, they tend to stay loyal to the brand. We haven't seen an increase in our natural churn rate, it has remained stable at 6% for several years. Several studies have shown that parents will continue to spend more on brands they trust when it comes to their children. 


With this initial price barrier and long-term brand loyalty mindset, we’ve introduced promotional pricing strategies and invested more heavily in referral schemes since August. We're seeing a healthy return on investment from this, proving that our loyal customers are our greatest marketing asset. A friend's recommendation outweighs the initial concern over cost. 

We will be launching our product range in the EU in spring 2023, taking advantage of the larger audience and more varied economic situations. The EU baby market is more than six times the size of the UK and Europe-wide inflation rates currently range from 3-12% (The UK is currently reporting 10.6%). We’ve chosen an established distributor and are in the final stages of contractual negotiations. 


The urgency of tackling environmental waste and plastic pollution is greater than ever. What are you focusing on this coming year in addition to sales and growth? 


Earlier this year, we were awarded a grant to develop a closed loop circular model for our products. We’ve partnered with Green Bottoms, a nappy waste collector, and ENVAR, the UK's largest bio-waste processor, to develop a pilot scheme for a subscription collection and composting service. We hope to launch this in 2023 with the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs’ approval. 

Are you planning to raise further investment to support your expansion?


Yes, we are planning to raise another £600,000 to support our European expansion plans. Watch this space on the Triodos crowdfunding platform for news of our upcoming raise early next year.
         
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