This month we talk to Bernadette Spofforth, CEO of Splash About, a British baby & children’s safety swimwear brand that was launched in 2002. Safety is at the heart of all Splash About’s products; their ethos is to keep babies, toddlers and children safe in and around water.
Tell me a little bit about the background of Splash About?
We are best known at home and internationally for our reusable leak-proof swim nappy, the Happy Nappy. It’s insisted upon by 95% of UK swim schools and the only brand recommended by British Standards ‘Guidelines for Baby Swimming’ because it’s so effective at preventing faecal leaks, keeping the water safe and clean for all swimmers. Our Happy Nappy range is also incorporated into swimming costumes, board shorts and baby wetsuits.
Splash About is also credited with creating the first float jacket for children over a decade ago. We now have a range of award-winning learn-to-swim FloatSuits and Jackets all designed with adjustable buoyancy. And because children advance their swimming skills on holiday, with daily practice in the pool, we have just introduced the first pack-flat Swim Vest. It’s robust enough to provide the levels of buoyancy required for a safe learn-to-swim experience, but lightweight and compact to fit into your suitcase.
All Splash About products have a UPF50+ the highest sun protection found in fabric and we also have a range of sun protection beach clothing and warming baby and children’s wetsuits, which sell well all year round.
What makes your products different / unique in the market?
Splash About is constantly innovating and we use the latest manufacturing techniques and premium materials.Our Happy Nappy for example has been an international best-seller for over a decade, but we have spent the last two years on a redesign. It now has an ergonomic, almost 3D shape with an innovative fitted gusset. This form fitting shape means uniquely it moves as your baby moves in the water; it doesn’t gape so it doesn’t leak no matter how hard your baby kicks or moves. This design is also helped by specialist pressure fabric, which we’ve incorporated at the waist and legs. It’s this attention to detail, quality materials and an affordable price point that sets us apart.
Splash About also works closely with the swimming industry; our innovation and ability to spot a gap in the market are our key strengths. Working with swim schools, we know for example that potty trained toddlers are the biggest cause of unwelcome accidents in the pool, and as parents we also know that potty training is a milestone and once your child has mastered it, getting them to wear a swim nappy can seem like a backward step.
This is why we created our Splash Jammers; they have all the technical construction, protection and reassurance of our Happy Nappy, but they are a much more grown up design – they are unique in the market bridging the gap between swim nappy and swimwear.
I think it’s the little touches that help make parent’s lives easier that we pride ourselves on. We’re the only company to put a back zip into our FloatSuits so they are easy for parents (but difficult for children) to take off. We have swimwear for babies and children with eczema so that swimming is inclusive for all.
Splash About also invented an open flat baby wetsuit to make it easier to dress a wriggling baby in a pool changing room and even our changing mats are longer than regular mats, and made from non-slip soft anti-bacterial foam. They’re safe and clean – and there’s also room for mum to kneel on the end when she’s changing baby on the floor!
With Back to (swim) school fast approaching, what’s new in your swimwear collection?
Our new and improved Happy Nappy has just launched and this has been fully tested and approved by UK swim-schools, it offers the best protection ever against faecal leaks in the pool. This is important in keeping children safe in the water, but equally swim schools need the reassurance that a swim nappy isn’t going to leak, if it does it means closing and cleaning the pool – and as such a loss of revenue. This is why 95% of UK swim-schools insist children under 3 years wear a Happy Nappy.
Also new this summer are the Splash Jammers – swim shorts for toddlers who are starting or have just mastered potty training. The Splash Jammers have all the protection against leaks that you get from our new Happy Nappy but in a more grown-up style.
Why should retailers consider swimwear for babies & children if they don’t already?
There has been a huge increase in the popularity of baby swimming lessons and it’s now one of the key activities for parents and children to do together.
Also swimwear is no longer seasonal; there is a year-round demand, as families no longer restrict their holidays in the summer months – we jet off in the winter too! For a stay-cation all the holiday parks have indoor pools and children’s wetsuits are becoming a key investment for British coastal holidays.
Have you got any special incentives or added value for retailers to open a new account with you?
In terms of added value, many of our products are insisted upon by UK swim schools so that in itself equates to strong sales from the start of the relationship with retailers. In addition, we provide automatic order placement, fast delivery and great margins with a number of sale opportunities in the year.
It’s also worth blowing our trumpet a little, Splash About is a market-leading brand which has been in business over 15 years and we have a number of unique products; if our brand isn’t stocked there isn’t an alternative which results in a lost sale.
What are your best sellers?
Our Happy Nappy range of products sell very well year round; a reliable swim nappy is an essential item in your baby’s swim bag.
Our baby wetsuits sell very well year round too – this is because young babies don’t move as much in water so are prone to get cold much quicker, even in warm pools. Having a mini or full wetsuit to maintain their core temperature ensures they have a much more enjoyable water experience.
Our FloatSuits with adjustable buoyancy are another of our year-round best sellers. Because the floats are centred round the chest and back, children’s arms aren’t restricted so they can move more freely in the water, they are also in a natural learn-to-swim position which helps with their swimming skills.
We get a lot of feedback from parents that tell us they feel much more reassured going swimming with two children when one (or both) is wearing a FloatSuit. This is because their child is supported unaided in the water and they are not reliant on holding onto floatation aids – this is especially important if the parent is holding a younger baby sibling.
Are you seeing any new trends come through?
Quality and value are always key. I think using technical advancements especially in the materials used is playing an increasingly important role and one which we have been at the forefront of adopting.
A lot of the trends are based around the quality of the design and we see a strong reaction from our customers who welcome more unisex colours and designs – it’s not necessarily all pink for girls and blue for boys, we have incorporated a lot of yellows and greens into our collection this year.
Find out more about stocking Splash About at: splashabout.com