How did Bubs Boutique come about?
Kirsten: We were both thinking about going back to work as our babies had just turned six months old. Paula found out about another online store closing down as they were moving back to Australia, so we decided to buy their surplus stock and host house parties. We got talking to the website owner and she encouraged us to set up something similar as at the time there was only two other websites in the region. We both got over excited and launched six months later with only a handful of products. Four years later we have around 65 brands from all around the world including Phil and Teds, Mountain Buggy’s, Mima, Aidan & Anais and Boba.
Have you ever run an online business before?
Kirsten: No and the idea was intimidating at first but we are both highly ambitious so we knew we could make it work. It’s still been a giant learning curve though!
What was the toughest element of setting up Bubs Boutique?
Kirsten: Being in a foreign country is always a challenge; adhering to laws and procedures is not an easy task. Additionally, neither of us had child care so our six month old babies were an integral part of the business – everywhere we went, they came too.
Paula: Getting the right balance of work and family has been a big challenge, when you work from home it can be very hard to switch off.
You’re quite niche in terms of the brands you stock, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Paula: Right from the start our aim was to stock baby items you could not get in the region. We started with a lot of brands from the Southern Hemisphere as they were brands I was familiar with from when I lived in New Zealand. We also fell into some of our niche areas as our business has grown - the range of carriers and slings being a prime example. We are actively involved in the baby wearing group and have consequently expanded our sling and carrier choices to meet customer demands.
Was it difficult to source the brands you wanted?
Kirsten: Yes, some of the brands had to take a risk with us as we did not have previous sales to present but thankfully, our website – which we put a lot of work into, helped us present ourselves in a professional manner to potential suppliers; many of whom we are still working with today.
Paula: The other side of it is trying to ensure that we have a percentage of brands that cannot be found elsewhere in the region. A huge part of sourcing comes from our own personal needs as our kid’s range in age from eight months to five years. We get emails every day from brands who want to be on the site but we try to remain selective and think about what we, as parents, are looking for in this region.
Do you travel all over the GCC to meet customer demand?
Kirsten: Yes, we travel regularly to Doha for events and have previously been to exhibitions in Bahrain.
Paula: We’d like to go there more often. It’s really important that people can put a face to bubsboutique. Being a small business and one of the first online stores to hit the region, we know that trust plays a huge role in people deciding to buy online.By getting out and about it’s a great opportunity for people to be able to feel and touch a brand they are not necessarily familiar with.
What’s next for Bubs Boutique?
Kirsten: Obviously we would like to keep growing our business and keep sourcing new products that are currently unavailable in the region. We now have five kids, who are five years and under between us, and we see daily demands for products that are both practical and innovative that are not available in the Middle East.
Paula: We are about to increase in size in terms of resources too so that we can really focus on growing the business and we’ve recently changed our shipping prices to make it more affordable for customers around the GCC. We are very fortunate to work with partners who really want to see us succeed and are enabling us to provide a one stop shop for parents in the GCC.
Visit www.bubsboutique.com for more information.