We speak to Jennifer Boocher, mum of one and co-owner of Freshii salad bar about her latest business foray into the car seat arena.
How did you make the leap from salad bar owners to car seat distributors?
It seems like a bit of a leap, but both business ideas came from a similar place. Our aim is to find concepts, brands or products that we are both passionate about and can address a need or gap in the local market. When we opened our first Freshii location, there was a clear lack of quality, healthy, fresh, quick service options in Dubai. Both are young, innovative, Canadian brands meeting an unmet need.
Why Clek in particular? Can you tell us a bit more about the brand and how you came across it?
Clek is unique for several reasons. They are the first car seat manufacturer in a long time that has really sought to innovate in terms of actual safety features by applying the same safety features found in the body of your car to child safety seats – like crumple zones and a steel and magnesium frame. Everything about the Clek seat is designed to minimise the impact of a collision. Toss in the fact that the seats are gorgeous looking and come in bright colours, designer fabrics and leathers – and we think we have something worth bringing to UAE parents.
Why do you think parents will opt for a Clek car seat or other readily available options in the UAE?
Clek pays a huge amount of attention to designing a product that both looks stunning and is easy for parents to use. The seat fabrics are made of something amazing called Crypton Super-Fabrics. They are high-quality and soft to the touch, and best of all, liquids bead, and roll off! Gooey snacks can be wiped away. No need to remove the fabrics and scrub. All three of the seats Clek offers feature rigid latch installation, meaning they can be easily lined up and clicked into place – no hours of fidgeting and adjusting to get a secure fit. Parents in larger families will love that the seats are extremely roomy, yet slim enough to be installed 3-across.
What age range are the car seats suitable for and how many different types of car seats are available?
The Foonf seat will last a child from six months to close to six years. It’s been designed for extended rear-facing use, according to international best-practices, to accommodate children in a rear-facing installation until their 4th birthday. The Oobr fullback booster can be used from four to 12 years. When a child outgrows the height of the headrest or is 145cm, the back can be removed, converting it into a backless booster usable until your child weighs 45kg. The Olli “Big-Kid” portable seat can be used from six to 12 years.
Your son James is now two. How do you make sure you spend enough time with him while still maintaining your business interests?
Being at home and working isn’t the same thing as being present, spending time with him. First thing in the morning and dinnertime until bedtime I make a conscious effort to put down my computer and phone. It takes discipline.
As parents, what are the best bits of running your own company? Do you get to spend more time with James?
The flexibility is definitely part of the appeal. We can work around his schedule. We don’t necessarily get to spend more time with him, but we can ensure we are there for all of the most important things.
And the worst bits?
The guilt! When you run your own company, you feel responsible for everything. Putting your work down to do other things is hard. On the other hand, when you have to sit working on your computer while your child is begging for your attention, it’s a bit soul-crushing. You don’t have the clean separation of home and office.
What would you say to other parents thinking of setting up their own business in Dubai?
Starting your own business is exciting and liberating in many ways. You are responsible for your own destiny and can chose how you work. It’s also stressful. If you fail, it’s all on you. I’m grateful that we had two businesses running before James was born. There’s still a lot of pressure when we take on something new, but our entire livelihood isn’t hanging in the balance.
Any plans to bring other family-friendly brands to Dubai or expand Freshii?
We’d absolutely love to expand Freshii. Real-estate is expensive, but we always have our eye on a few key spots. Yes, we have another concept in the works, and this one’s really fun, but you’ll have to wait for at least a few months before we can talk about it!
The Clek UAE range is available at Bumble Bee, The Dubai Mall and via Mumzworld at www.mumzworld.com. For more information and to buy directly from Clek UAE, visit the website at www.clekuae.com.