Tuesday, February 4, 2014

News: Hip-Rocker's great start leads to global success

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Hip-Rocker, a jellybean-shaped rocking chair that helps children who wear a hip spica cast to immobilise the hip as it heals, is in demand across the globe.

The business was founded by Brampton-born Claire Bradwell, whose inspirational story was recently recognised at the Yorkshire and Humber "Celebrate Success" awards hosted by the Prince's Trust.

Claire came up with the idea of Hip Rocker after her daughter Daisy who has hip dysplasia, had to spend three months in a cast that stretched from her toes to her chest. Claire was keen to create something which didn't look clinical, was bright and colourful and would be a design that young children would want to sit in.

Established in RiDO's Century Business Centre in Manvers, Rotherham it was here that she accessed support which helped her to begin trading internationally in Australia and across Europe.

Claire Bradwell, managing director of Hip Rocker, said: "I was getting lots of recommendations from customers, which meant sales were growing rapidly, not just in the UK but internationally.

"I received a number of orders from Australia, but didn't have any idea how to go about arranging payment for overseas customers or what to do about things like charging VAT. I hadn't expected to begin trading overseas so quickly, so I was straight on the phone to Bob Langley from RiDO's Soft Landing Zone. Bob helped me to understand more about the export side of the business and trading internationally, which was a great help and gave me the confidence to approach business overseas professionally and correctly."

Bob Langley, business co-ordinator for RiDO's Soft Landing Zone, added: "Claire has done exceptionally well in establishing and growing a business not just in the UK, but in a number of other countries. With our support she has been able to take advantage of some tremendous opportunities in Australia, the Republic of Ireland and Norway and these look like they will become major growth markets for her products.

"For a business in a specialist market sector like this, it is important to be able to sell overseas and Claire has gained the necessary skills quickly and adapted her business model to enable her to take advantage."

The Soft Landing Zone project aims to embed additional international business into the area, and help existing businesses to grow in global markets. It has attracted investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

After almost a year at Century Business Centre, Claire decided she needed additional room to expand her business and her and her partner bought a cottage in Wadsley, Sheffield, where they have converted the large stable and hayloft into a purpose designed workshop for Hip Rocker.

Claire added: "I had a great start for my business in Rotherham and what I learned here this has given me the confidence and knowledge to expand into international markets, which I never believed I would have been able to do."

Hip-Rocker website

Images: RiDO

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