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18 February 2016

B&S Meets...Liz Pilgrim

Psst...have you heard the news? There'll be a new addition to the Bubble line-up this season! 

We're talking about Bubble Bump, a stand-out product area dedicated exclusively to maternity and nursery brands. New for S/S17, it will showcase everything from maternitywear, to carefully chosen nursery collections. Ahead of the launch, we've been catching up with Liz Pilgrim, editor of Maternity Buyer Magazine and a key member of the Bump team...

Could you introduce yourself to our readers? How long have you been working in the industry?

I’m Liz Pilgrim! I’m a mum of two, and have been working in the nursery industry for over 20 years. I had a highly-successful career at a kids marketing agency, becoming a shareholder and working with high profile brands - until I had my first baby in 2002. It was then that I realised juggling kids in a busy agency environment wasn’t going to work for our family. When I was pregnant, I noticed the lack of maternitywear and quality baby clothes available, and decided to start my own retail business in Ealing, using the transferable skills I’d gained working at and running the agency. I started ‘babye’, a gorgeous boutique which stocked maternity and baby products, focusing on mums and gifts. The shop was beautiful, selling brands like Catimini, KissyKissy, Boob and Queen Mum; we were one of the first UK retailers to take Bugaboo, back in 2003. We gained instant popularity and loyal custoners, and soon launched an online shop. This was before many of the suppliers had their own online stores, so our google rankings and key word searches were amazing; we ranked first for kids designer clothing and baby clothing. I wish I’d known then how dominant online retailing was to become.

I learnt so much very quickly, and had a grand vision of expanding the business - but the economic decline had a huge effect on our sales, and the nail in the coffin for me came in 2011, when my shop was trashed in the Ealing riots. I lost everything. My 10 year lease was nearly up, and I made the difficult decision to close. I’d already been approached by a couple of my shop brands (including some maternity labels), who wanted me to become their agent - so I decided to take the risk and evolve the business from retail to wholesaling.
When and why did you found Maternity Buyer Magazine?

It was after becoming a maternity brand agent that I noticed a lack of a maternity industry resource. There are plenty of well-established nursery magazines and websites, but no maternity trade sites for the UK. I soft-launched maternitybuyer.com about a year ago, trying to build the brand and establish a profile and presence. My trade site is full of news and product launches, as well as an expanding Trade Directory. I quickly realised that the trade site was taking up more and more time, and that I loved doing it - and that’s where my passion is now. At the end of 2015, I decided to focus on maternitybuyer.com full time. My work/life balance is now just right – I work from home, still based in Ealing in West London. I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated loft office space – although, as my husband runs his own business too, disagreements about the radio station choice are frequent!

Could you tell us more about Bubble Bump?

I approached Bubble London to see if there was any synergy between our brands. Specifically, I suggested collaborating to create the UK’s first maternity trade show; I’d bring a unique perspective (having been a buyer, an agent and run a trade website) to the table, together with brand and buyer contacts - while Bubble London know how to put on a good show! (I must say that Bubble London’s January 2016 show was the best yet – so vibrant and such a buzz in the venue!) I met the Bubble Team, and it was an instant yes to launching Bubble Bump at Bubble London on 19 & 20 June. Bump will be a dedicated area showcasing maternity brands, fashion, nursingwear and nursing lingerie, accessories and newborn nursery brands.
Why do you think there’s a need for a platform like Bump? How will it benefit buyers and brands?

I think Bubble Bump will be a platform for both British brands looking to showcase their products, and international labels hoping to reach the UK and Europe. I love collaborations – the idea of bringing the best skills together to create something better than you can do yourself is so inspiring! Bubble Bump will provide many brands with the opportunity to showcase their collections and products in front of key buyers – multiples, department stores and independents. It will mean that some buyers who don’t normally travel to the European shows will at last have the opportunity to formulate their buying in one place. There seem to be fewer and fewer maternity brand agents - and with London showroom costs so high, this is a great way for labels to show what they’re doing and reach their target audience of buyers.

Time and time again, I’m told of a lack of maternity provision on the highstreet – and I also think Bump will persuade other retailers to carry maternitywear and maternity products. For many, I think stocking a good selection of maternitywear would invigorate their business - whether it’s a kidswear, lingerie or nursery store. Expectant mums want choice; they want to go somewhere and try on maternitywear, which is a product that doesn’t always work as well online as it does in bricks & mortar shops. Sell a decent maternity outfit to an expectant mum, and you’re more likely to gain her loyalty for her baby and nursery choices. In a tough marketing environment, retailers should be doing all they can with the ‘#BumpPound’!
How will you be preparing for the next edition of Bubble, and the launch of Bump?

I’m now a freelance member of the Bubble team, and will be helping coordinate the Bubble Bump brands and stands. I’m very excited! We’ll be generating awareness and promoting the show to our buyers and brands, and are delighted that we’ve had so much interest already. Any brands wanting to exhibit should contact me [email protected]. We’re pleased that we have lots of stand options available – so there really is something for brands of any size. We’ll be promoting the show through social media, CWB Magazine, bubblelondon.com, direct mailers and other media partners, as well as newsletters and mailings. So save the date – 19 & 20 June. I’ll see you there for this Bump’s arrival!

For more information about Bubble Bump, contact Liz at [email protected], or on +44 (0)2087350855.

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