Norwich mum’s childrenswear brand making a scene on social media
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
A loyal social media following is helping a Norwich mum-of-one to raise the profile of her international children's clothing business.
Little Hotdog Watson, which makes sun hats and sunglasses for children up to age 10, is a wardrobe staple for the sons and daughters of Instagram celebrities like 'Mother Pukka' Anna Whitehouse, Giovanna Fletcher and Frédérique Harrel.
The sun hats, which come in unisex prints such as pandas, bananas and camo, also featured in a recent advertising campaign for Renault with the Whitehouse family.
Founder and product designer Emma Watson, who runs the business from her home in Norwich, said: 'The Insta mum and dad community has been very supportive of us.
'My social media feed is very much about my journey as a mum setting up her own business. A lot of mums said they have watched me and taken inspiration.'
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Ms Watson, 36, said social media is also crucial in her product development, with ideas such as a graded tint on sunglasses lenses and making sun hats slightly bigger than the standard size coming from parent feedback.
'When we're thinking about a new product, we ask people on social media what they like about those products and what they would like to change.'
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She added other local children's clothing brands such as Nor-Folk and Jax & Hedley have benefitted from social media followings in the tens of thousands.
'In Norfolk there is a group of us mums doing the fashion thing because we understand there is a gap in the market for good quality, fashionable children's clothing.'
Inspired by a holiday experience with her daughter Harriet, two, former menswear designer and store buyer Ms Watson launched her first product a year ago – a machine washable sun hat with UV protection, mosquito repellency, and a temperature regulating fabric designed by NASA supplier Outlast.
Sunglasses, the company's second product, were launched in April and feature flexible arms, UV protection and graded lenses.
Orders are being shipped to more than 10 countries, with up to 1,000 being placed each month.
A range of winter hats is set to go on sale at the end of August, with plans to launch a swimwear line in 2018 in response to customer demand.
Ms Watson said: 'Because we have established a quality marker and a brand, people want the full package.'
As Little Hotdog Watson is based online international trading has always been part of the business. It successfully launched in China in February and takes regular orders from the US.
To combat the seasonality of her business, Ms Watson plans to target the Australian market to boost orders during the British winter months.
Around 6,000 orders have been placed so far this year, but Ms Watson said the result of the EU referendum, which happened a month after the business launched, continues to affect UK trading.
'A lot of UK stores were nervous of placing orders and even this year they are wanting to place very close to season,' she said.
Little Hotdog Watson was named best new brand at the 2016 Dot To Dot London show and also appeared at the Playtime Paris show in January, which helped launch trading in Switzerland, Canada and South Korea.
The company will be appearing at its first trade show in Berlin later this year.