Twenty five years of Bambino Mio
Husband and wife Guy and Jo Schanschieff started selling reusable nappies from their garage in Northampton and now Bambino Mio are sold in more than 70 countries around the world.
Guy Schanschieff reveals how he achieved such remarkable growth, the challenges of international expansion and working through a pandemic, as well as the chance encounter on a holiday in India that sparked the idea to set up Bambino Mio.
In a nutshell, what does Bambino Mio do and what makes your brand so unique?
We sell reusable nappies and associated change time products directly to consumers through our website, on Amazon, supermarkets, pharmacies, and nurseries throughout the UK and globally.
Unlike other brands, our nappies are reusable to help reduce the environmental impact that single-use nappies have. In the UK alone, we throw away almost 4 billion a year and it’s the equivalent to throwing away 17 plastic bags every day for every child in nappies.
What were you doing before you started the business?
Before graduating, I was training to become an accountant at KPMG.
What inspired you to quit accountant and start a reusable nappy business?
I had always wanted to run my own business and had tried lots of different ideas early on. Whilst travelling with my now wife, Jo, in India we got talking to an American who sparked the idea that started Bambino Mio.
How did you develop and test the idea?
We jumped straight in. The business started as a nappy laundry service in 1992, but that was never a scalable business model. But, it gave us a lot of experience with the products and we gained great insights from parents who were putting nappies on their little ones every single day.
How did you fund and start what is now a worldwide company?
We started very small from the back room of our terrace house in Northampton and we grew organically from there to now shipping worldwide.
You’ve expanded the company to over 70 countries globally. What’s the reason for selling in so many different countries?
The UK is a finite market and we’re solely focused on reusable nappies and associated products and we don’t want to stick our brand on other baby products as it dilutes our message and purpose. So the natural next step was to look for other markets overseas.
Has the pandemic impacted your business? Did you benefit from the lockdown baby boom?
The same as lots of businesses, with allowing staff to work from home and all the effects that comes with that. The most direct impact was the drop in sales of one of our popular products, reusable swim nappies because people were no longer going on holiday or allowed to visit swimming pools.
However, our reusable nappies, reusable wipes and reusable potty training pants in particular, experienced extremely high demand during lockdown because reusables are so convenient, parents can use, wash and reuse our products in the comfort of their own home and didn’t need to worry about panic buying single-use plastic disposable product. Also, during the pandemic many people were worried about finances, by switching to reusables parents can save a significant amount of money so that also attributed to the popularity of Bambino Mio products.
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We strive to have the best products on the market. And I think the significant number of consumer awards we continue to win is hopefully a testament to that. And we don’t sit back. Being as customer-driven as possible is important to understand what they need.- Guy Schanschieff, Bambino Mio
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What’s your stance on sustainability? Does it play a big role in your strategy and brand values?
Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. 1% of the world’s plastic is used to create disposable nappies. Reusable nappies use 98% less raw materials and 99% less waste so from a sustainable point of view, they are really important. We’ve always been a purpose-driven company and with competition increasing, we believe our values are what makes us unique in the market.
Shipping products around the world can have a big impact on the environment. How have you addressed this issue?
With lots of areas of our business, we are trying to make things better. For example, we don’t airship anything into the company. Even at times, like now, when there are huge supply chain issues, we don’t use air shipments. We would rather be out of stock and let our customers know that we’re waiting for them. For us it’s all about a direction of travel, we are constantly looking at everything within the business that we can improve.
How do you keep ahead of your competition? What makes you unique?
We strive to have the best products on the market. And I think the significant number of consumer awards we continue to win is hopefully a testament to that. And we don’t sit back. Being as customer-driven as possible is important to understand what they need.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? And who was it from?
Paul Polman, the ex CEO of Unilever who was involved with creating the sustainable development goals for the United Nations. I was lucky enough to go to a presentation that he gave about the goals and the challenges facing the world and how business is the only way that we can tackle some of these issues. It was a real light bulb moment as we’ve always been a purpose-driven business.
It seems as though you have faced and overcome many challenges, if you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
I would say, “It’s going to be alright”, because there have been times that I’ve been resistant to risk, and to know it will be alright in the end and we were on the right path would have helped.
With the nappy and eCommerce industry becoming ever more competitive, how do you plan to keep growing?
We’ve just taken investment from BGF which has been great and is designed to help us supercharge our growth. There is a huge opportunity, both in terms of us as a brand, and in the general category. We’re looking to harness and exploit the move consumers are making towards sustainable products to grow as fast as we can, which will ultimately reduce the environmental footprint associated with single-use nappy usage worldwide and promote reusable nappies as part of a shift to a truly circular economy.
James and James Fulfilment
It all began in 2010, when James Hyde and James Strachan couldn’t find a modern shipping service for the eCommerce business they ran. Faced with messy warehouses based on out-dated systems, they decided to build their own.
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