Norwich mum’s kidswear brand gains bigger global market with move into South Korea

Emma Watson with her daughter, Harriett, wearing one of Emma's sunhats, with temperature regulating,

Emma Watson with her daughter, Harriett, wearing one of Emma's sunhats, with temperature regulating, mosquito and UV protection, and antiglare, UV protection sunglasses she designs under the label Little Hotdog Watson. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

A young Norfolk clothing brand will be turning more heads in Asia after securing a new distribution deal.

A new product from Norwich-based childrenswear brand Little Hotdog Watson, modelled by founder Emma

A new product from Norwich-based childrenswear brand Little Hotdog Watson, modelled by founder Emma Watson's daughter Harriett, three. Picture: Little Hotdog Watson - Credit: Little Hotdog Watson

Little Hotdog Watson, which designs fashionable but functional headgear for children, has signed a deal with a new supplier in South Korea with the first orders due to be shipped in early March.

An initial product run of 4,000 will be sold in 30 of the distributor's stores – but founder Emma Watson, who runs the business from her home in south Norwich, said it had a network of around 300 stores which her business could eventually capitalise on.

The company already sells in China through a distributor, a partnership which Ms Watson says has so far been successful.

'The long-term goal is to get the know the market and build on that,' she said.

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'South Korea is a really interesting market, it is very fashionable and very fashion-forward. There are quite a lot of big fashion and make-up brands coming out of the country at the moment. They are cutting-edge in what they do and that is filtering through into kidswear. People want their children to look on-trend.

'South Korea is a little bit like China where you have a growing middle and upper class with a lot more disposable income per family. It means our retail price point can be much higher.

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'The distributor wants to set us up as a quality brand, and the way to do that is with price points.

'For them 4,000 is a trial order, but that's the scale of the market.'

Ms Watson says she is ready to deal with any resulting increase in orders. 'The business was set up so it can handle a volume growth. I worked at M&S as a buyer for years so I am used to working in volume,' she said.

'Even though I started small I have worked with specialists who can do those orders. My fear was that an opportunity would come along, like the Korea opportunity, and I would not be able to take it because I could not scale up.'

She added: 'For a small business working from home, dealing with more people and more languages, it has been a bit more complicated for me but from a manufacturing point of view it has been fine.'

Little Hotdog Watson makes a range of temperature-regulating and mosquito-repellant sunhats and UV-protective sunglasses. It has sold around 15,000 products globally in the last year.

A new collection

With warnings of snow and ice abounding, Little Hotdog Watson has launched its Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

Part of the range was shown at the Playtime Paris children's and maternity trade show last week to more than 500 companies.

Emma Watson said the collection of sunglasses and sunhats has been expanded to include a bow-adorned bonnet, inspired by her daughter and principal model Harriett, three.

Also added to the range are two new animal prints – Toucan Play and Hip Pink – plus the brand's first solid-colour option.

She said the 18-month-old company's first Autumn/Winter collection had been met with enthusiasm.

'It was quite a small collection to test the water and see what the desire was for it, but it got a really good reception, so for next Autumn/Winter we will expand it with more options.'

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