A mother, who grew up in Northamptonshire, set up a new sustainable baby clothes business earlier this year has now been recognised in a national celebration of small businesses.
Rhian Thompson, founded baby clothing business 'Bibevie', in June and - just three months later - has been selected to feature in the prestigious 'Small Business Saturday' UK campaign.
Small Business Saturday - initially established by American Express in the US in 2010 - takes place on the first weekend of December each year and, in the run up to this, highlights 100 small businesses up and down the country each day.
The campaign has dedicated Saturday, September 18 to give special recognition to Rhian's business, which has thrived in such a small amount of time.
Rhian said: "It was unbelievable. We have only been going for a couple of months but we've had some orders from people we've never met before and, the first time that happens with a small business owner, it's just quite overwhelming really because somebody who doesn't know you is trusting you and your ideas with their money.
"We've had that, we've had lots of press coverage and various bits and pieces but this one was a real acknowledgement that we, as a business, stand up against other small businesses in the small business space and the fact that we are only a few months old and we've been selected for this - it's brilliant!"
Rhian grew up in Northamptonshire, attending Roade School and then the Northampton School for Boys' sixth form. She currently lives in Northwood as her husband has a job within the military, which requires the family to move around to various locations.
She was first inspired to set up her baby clothing business in 2019 by her then newborn baby girl Evie, who had a condition commonly known as 'Tongue-Tie' (ankyloglossia). This is where the strip of skin connecting a baby's tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual. This can restrict tongue movement so babies may have difficulty moving their tongue around and opening their mouth wide enough to breastfeed.
Evie's condition meant that she had to spend her first year in dribble bibs. Rhian grew frustrated as she frequently struggled to find a bib to match Evie's clothes and would often have to settle for "the least clashy bib" she could find.
She said: "It just wound me up. I would have a camera roll full of photos of her wearing these beautiful outfits and then this ugly bib over the top. It just amazed me that people spend hundreds of pounds and really get into dressing their baby and I could never find something that the bib actually co-ordinated with.
"Another bug bear of mine about the bibs was they swing around anyway so babies would wear it like a cape or it would be over one shoulder so, in the end, I just created something where the bib would be an important part of the outfit and add to the design rather than be kind of chucked in with it and it stays in place so that, when your baby is sick or dribbling. the bib is actually catching it rather than being off round the back."
Thus, 'Bibevie', was born.
What separates this baby clothing brand from all of the others? First, there are clips in place on the baby's bibs, which allows it to stay in place on even the most fidgety of babies. All of the bibs co-ordinate with the dungarees, which are also sold on the website so parents will no longer need to stress about finding a matching bib for their baby's outfit.
However, the biggest factor of all that makes 'Bibevie' stand out from other business is its sustainability initiatives, which have attracted attention from other media outlets including the Metro.
The main fabric for Bibevie's baby clothing is a blend of bamboo and organic cotton; bamboo fibres are hypoallergenic and much finer than other materials, which means it feels softer on a baby's delicate skin and it is less likely to irritate sensitive skin.
Other benefits of using bamboo fibres include only requiring rainwater to grow, as opposed to around 7500 litres for a single pair of jeans, according to the UN - it can be farmed sustainably because the roots are left intact when harvested thus promoting regrowth and leaving the surrounding ecosystem unspoiled, emitting 35 percent more oxygen into the atmosphere whilst holding four times more carbon dioxide than other similarly sized plants and almost every part of a bamboo plant can be used, meaning no waste products.
Bibevie has purposefully checked that the farmers who produce their bamboo fibres are not using pesticides and that the processing takes place in a closed-loop process, which means that all waste materials are accounted for and disposed of responsibly.
Rhian applied to the Small Business Saturday campaign and was delighted when Bibevie was one of 100 independent businesses across the UK to be be highlighted in the official countdown to Saturday, December 4.
Director at Small Business Saturday UK, Michelle Ovens CBE, said: “We are excited to be kicking off this year’s Small Business Saturday campaign with the launch of the SmallBiz100.
"It’s wonderful to have businesses like Bibevie as part of this year’s line-up. Rhian’s passion and pride for her business and her community really shines through and we were also impressed by the steps she has taken to become environmentally friendly.”
When asked how Rhian will mark her special dedicated day (Saturday, September 18), she told this newspaper that, with every order containing a pair of dungarees and a bib, she will add another bib for free and a percentage of all profits will be donated to charity, Little Village. This charity is similar to a food bank but it provides clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children up to the age of five in families in need of support.
To find out more about Bibevie's products and sustainability initiatives, visit https://www.bibevie.com/ and to find out more about the work of the Little Village charity, visit https://littlevillagehq.org/.
For more information about the annual Small Business Saturday campaign, go to https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/index.aspx.