An adventure skin care start-up Toddle, based in Wrexham, will be launching its child-friendly skin care products this summer following a £200,000 equity investment.
Toddle, which is the brainchild of former RAF officer Hannah Saunders, has secured £150,000 through Angels Invest Wales, the business angel network launched by the Development Bank of Wales last year.
The remaining £50,000 came after Toddle won ‘Pitch of the Day’ at Pitch It Wales, a Dragons’ Den style competition run in partnership between Inspire Wales and BeTheSpark. The total investment will be partly used to create three new jobs.
The £200,000 investment will also pay for marketing activities to prepare for the launch and the first year of trading, as well as manufacturing and export activities.
Hannah and her husband are both travel and adventure sports enthusiasts. But when they became parents, they found there were no skin care products they could take with them on their outings that were suitable for young children.
Spotting a gap in the market, Hannah left the RAF in 2017 and spent the next 18 months doing market research and developing the company’s products. These include a dribble proof lip balm specially designed for babies, a sun and wind balm designed to protect infants’ cheeks in any weather, and a probiotic hand gel.
Hannah Saunders, owner and creator of Toddle said: “At the moment most hand gels available kill all bacteria indiscriminately; our product kills the bad bacteria and supports the good bacteria. We need the good bacteria to help with our immune system and overall health.”
With the aim of appealing to parents, the products come with cords and clasps so they can be carried about easily and securely.
“You can use them with one hand because as a parent you might be dealing with a wriggly child, and they don’t get lost, they’re always there,” Hannah said.
Hannah began by mixing ingredients such as jojoba oil and beeswax in her kitchen, and later worked with biochemists and manufacturers in Britain and America to perfect the products.
Ethically sourcing the products is important to Hannah. She uses only British manufacturers rather than cheaper options in the Far East to ensure each ingredient is traceable, cruelty free and vegan.
“Where we can, we use sugar cane tubes which are biodegradable. We’ve stripped down the packaging to the bare minimum that we’re allowed to. What is there is 100% recyclable cardboard,” she said.
The company expects to do a lot of direct sales through its website but is also targeting retailers. It has made a successful pitch to Boots,where out of hundreds of applicants Toddle has been taken on to the next stage.
Although Hannah and her husband now live in Wrexham, the business was launched while they were living in Buckinghamshire. She admits to having misgivings initially about moving to North Wales.
“I thought it would be terrible moving up here, away from London where I thought it would be better starting a business. I couldn’t be more wrong because the help from Angels Invest Wales has been phenomenal and I wouldn’t be where I am now without it,” she said.
Steve Holt, Director of Angels Invest Wales said: “Angels Invest Wales provides a pan-Wales service, matching quality business opportunities with the right investor via our digital investment platform. This showcases our prospective deals to all our investors in real time.
“The Angels Invest Wales team works collaboratively across the country to ensure the matching process produces positive results across the regions from south to north Wales, and the Toddle deal is a brilliant example of how effective this is. I’m delighted that we have helped to mobilise such an experienced and knowledgeable group of angels and we wish Toddle every success in the future.”
Deri Green, one of the angel investors, was attracted to Toddle because of their innovative and environmentally conscious products. He said; “When I look to invest in a company, I look for authenticity, timing and a strong work-ethic. Hannah’s business model ticked all the boxes for me; from how the products are made and what’s in them, to Hannah’s exceptional organisational skills.
“Following my own experience in deal structuring with big clients, I can pass on my expertise to Hannah as she works with UK retailers to sell her products.
“The Angels Invest Wales team was excellent in cooperating between me in the south Wales region and Toddle based in Wrexham, demonstrating how easy it is to facilitate deals across the country.”