Independent baby shop in Suffolk, nr Ipswich

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Tiny Explorers, A London Mums Journey Running A Baby Equipment Rental Business

Hayley Hanigan Tiny Explorers baby equipment rental.

Tiny Explorers began as a side hustle that turned into a thriving business

As part of our focus on mums in business, this month we are looking at a London-based baby equipment rental business Tiny Explorers that started in 2022.

As if it wasn’t hard enough being a mum of four and everything that goes with it, Hayley Hanigan decided to start a new business renting baby equipment. The idea came to her whilst on maternity leave, shortly before she was due to start back at her full-time job with Unilever. As a family of keen travellers, the Hanigans knew all too well the pitfalls of travelling with young children, particularly lugging around all the large but essential items needed, such as pushchairs and travel cots.

Hayley says: “I don’t want to have to take all the kid’s things with me when we travel. Theres always too much to carry and it takes ages to pack. I wanted to rent items rather than buy products that we might never use again and would just end up taking up space at home.”

Travelling with small children and baby equipment can be challenging.

Tiny Explorers humble beginnings

Hayley started off small, purchasing five Babyzen pushchairs to hire, and building an e-commerce platform to make it easy for customers to place an order with her. Within just a few short weeks the orders came flooding in, prompting the purchase of more pushchairs and also expanding into other products. This quickly grew into a full catalogue of baby rental equipment including travel cots, high chairs, and even toys. Hayley quickly realised her side hustle idea could grow into something far bigger, and grow it did, turning over £200k in the first year of business alone.

Tiny Explorers customers come from far and wide, with many visitors from abroad finding her service a godsend.

“We can arrange delivery and collection to any UK address which makes the service especially beneficial to families visiting from abroad. They can travel with peace of mind knowing that everything they need for their young children will be waiting for them when they arrive, and collected on the day they leave”

Tiny Explorers even boasts celebrity clients including Lauren Pope, Mollie King, and Ashley James, something they only become aware of when they are tagged on their socials.

Ashley James with a Donna pushchair rented from Tiny Explorers.

A business supporting other mums

One of the things we love about Tiny Explorers is their ethos of helping parents. This is clearly at the core of everything they do, not just in helping to make travelling easier for parents, but also in the general day-to-day running of their business.

One of the things that prompted Hayley to start a business was her own struggles with paying for childcare so she could maintain her full-time position with Unilever. The business has certainly helped her to overcome this, but at the same time has left her with a lot on her plate!

“I work full-time at Unilever in the IT department, and once the kids are asleep I spend most of my evenings working on the business – I do the marketing, respond to urgent emails and look at ways to grow the business,”

Hayley goes on to say “This leaves a heavy workload that has been taken on by local mum friends who were in exactly the same position as I was in, many of whom had been forced to give up their careers due to the rising costs of childcare”

Tiny Explorers now employs a number of local mums who enjoy the luxury of being able to work flexible hours for a local company, whilst being able to keep important schedules such as school pickups.

Advice for mums with a new business start-up idea

Spotting opportunities or gaps in the market is something a lot of us do subconsciously on a daily basis. Actually recognising these opportunities and following through on your ideas is a different ballgame altogether. It can be a daunting prospect starting a business, as it was for me when I made my very first teething necklace and subsequently opened our baby shop. For most, it comes with a very steep learning curve. some mums may have a partner, relative, or close friend already running their own business and have first-hand access to guidance, support, and advice on everything from registering a business to accounting and tax returns.

For others, there is plenty of advice to be found online, including the government’s own business advice pages on setting up a business. There are also free business courses available for start-ups from the likes of Natwest Bank and others, and an abundance of advice forums and groups to explore.

Of course, seek out other mumpreneurs who started successful businesses just like Hayley. When asked for any advice she would give to anyone considering starting a business she had this to say:

“When you look into starting a business it can seem overwhelming at first, but there is plenty of help out there if you take the time to look. If you have a good idea that you feel fills a gap in the market then my advice would be to just go for it, what have you got to lose?”

Baby equipment rental business based in London.

Are you a mum running a successful business whilst still keeping up with the childcare? We’d love to hear your inspirational story and share it with our readers/customers. Get in touch and tell us a little bit about yourself!

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