“I had three children in quick succession,” says Boyle. “They dribbled continuously. There was simply nothing on the market that looked nice and kept them dry.”
Her fourth child arrived and the baby fashion industry still hadn’t filled this gap in the market, so Boyle, then a history teacher, decided to make them herself.
“I started out on my kitchen table,” she says. “I thought, ‘I must be crazy! Why would someone pay £7 for a bib when they can get five in a pack at Mothercare for £2.50?’ In November that year, I set up a stall at Greenwich market and sold 30 bibs on my first day’s trading. That’s when I knew I wasn’t crazy.”
Interest soon followed from Selfridges, Harrods and Daisy & Tom. As the orders came flooding in, Boyle and her husband moved the operation out of the kitchen into the garden shed. Pretty soon there were six sheds on the lawn. Boyle sourced a manufacturer in India to cope with the bulk orders.
“I wanted to make the bibs in the UK,” says Boyle. “But it just wasn’t feasible. The quality of the cotton was just so superior in India.”
Besides the aforementioned luxury outlets, Boyle now also supplies Harvey Nichols. Distributors have taken her bibs as far as Japan and Dubai: “There are 14 top department stores in Japan,” she says. “Our bibs are in 12 of them.”
What next for the belle of the bibs? “I probably need a cash injection to push the business to the next level,” says Boyle. “I wouldn’t rule out a trade sale. But my husband’s not keen. He sees the business as our baby and wants to keep it for our children.” She laughs. “I’m the unsentimental one! If I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse, I’d have to consider it.”
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