We are delighted to announce The Bshirt as the winners of the 12th Export Action Plan Competition, sponsored and hosted by Bibby Financial Services as part of the Institute of Export & International Trade’s World Trade Summit event in Birmingham on 28th November 2019.
We spoke to Lisa Lessware and Philippa Doyle, the founders of The Bshirt brand, following their success.
How did it feel to win the competition?
It was incredible. We’ve been working so hard for the last 3 years and it felt so good to get some recognition for how far we’ve come. To present to a panel of such accomplished business people was very daunting but it was such a great opportunity to showcase our amazing business and our export plans.
We’re a small business with big dreams and we now have the support in place with prize money but also with the 1-year membership and training courses to gain the skills and expertise we need to make our exports a success. We’re very excited about what the next year will bring.
What does your company do at the moment and what’s next?
We’re an ethical breastfeeding clothing brand that designs breastfeeding tops for women to either layer with their pre-pregnancy clothes or wear on their own as a pretty vest, short sleeved or long-sleeved top. We believe in empowering women to express their own style and avoid the ‘mum uniform’ as well as reducing clothing waste.
Our products are ethically made using organic cotton and our garment bags are home compostable. We have flexible working hours for all our employees and recognise and value the roles and responsibilities our staff have outside of their jobs (i.e.: family commitments).
We’re expanding our range of products with an amazing and innovative feeding top scheduled for launch in Spring 2020. We’re also expanding our product range to include essential products that support a woman’s breastfeeding journey.
How are the exports going?
We have a UK website which sells mainly to UK customers, with a small percentage of sales going overseas. We have a USA website and have sent stock to Amazon to be fulfilled by Amazon in the States.
We are now in the process of launching an EU version of our website to allow us to capture payments in Euros and start actively exporting to EU countries. We are planning to advertise this new website to the Netherlands, Germany, Spain & Belgium throughout the course of 2020.
How has the Export Action Plan helped with your exports?
The Export Action Plan greatly helped. When we first started this process, we knew we wanted to export but we weren’t sure how, where or when. The action plan really helped us to focus our research into which new markets to target and how to target them. Based on this we set goals and we now have a detailed action plan to implement.
How have you found the experience of the final today?
The final was nerve wracking but fun! It was great to watch the other finalists and to learn about how other SMEs are approaching similar challenges. The opportunity to network with other contestants and the judges was invaluable too.
We have come away with potential contacts to help with our Amazon advertising, trade finance, advice on trade shows and possible new collaborations.
To be selected as winners was truly the icing on the cake!!
What three tips would you give to other new exporters?
- Do your research
- Get help – there’s lots of great advice out there
- Don’t be afraid to get it wrong, because it’s a learning curve
About The Bshirt
The Bshirt is the UK’s only ethical breastfeeding clothing brand dedicated to reducing clothing waste and empowering women to breastfeed with confidence.
Started by two mums who wanted to wear normal clothes while breastfeeding, the Bshirt is deceptively simple – it’s a vest top that transforms a woman’s existing wardrobe to become breastfeeding friendly.
And it works – 83% of our customers say breastfeeding in their Bshirt makes them feel more confident than any other top.
Now trading in its 3rd year, the Bshirt is going from strength to strength. Its customers simply love the simplicity of the product and the ethics of the brand.
The Bshirt only uses organic cotton, fairtrade factories, and plastic-free packaging. The Bshirt is leading the way in ethical consumerism while helping mums achieve their goals.
The Open to Export Competition
The Open to Export Action Plan is an intuitive online planning tool which takes you through 5 key steps to export success. It is simple to use and works by asking you to complete tasks and set actions, helping you to establish what you need to know and do to start selling overseas.
Once you have completed the steps, you will generate an action plan which is a brilliant showpiece to take to your bank, business advisor or international trade advisor. You can also enter your plan into one of our regular competitions for the chance to win £3000 towards its implementation.
More information: https://opentoexport.com/info/export-action-plan-competition/