How did the Kardashians, Royal Family and David Cameron help this British retail brand?

Interview | Retail
Daniel Price & Jonny Sitton, Founders of My 1st Years

Business Leader recently sat down with Daniel Price, Co-Founder of children’s gifting brand My 1st Years to discuss how major celebrities helped grow his company.

Can you give our readers and overview of the company and the inspiration behind it?

My 1st Years is the UK’s leading personalised children’s gifting brand, offering complimentary personalisation on a huge range of clothing, toys and homeware. My Co-Founder (Jonny Sitton) and I had a mutual friend who had just had a baby, and we wanted to find a unique gift to celebrate. We really struggled to find something special enough so went about creating our own pair of personalised baby shoes. They were a huge success amongst family and friends and we realised we’d really hit on something –  it quickly spiralled from there.

Was it the company’s aim to disrupt and change the industry?

Most definitely. From our own personal experience we realised there wasn’t anything like us before and we continue to be a leader in the market today. We were recently awarded the Queen’s Award for Innovation, as we offer a fully automated personalisation service with next day delivery. We also have a solid business model – the one thing it seems consumers won’t sacrifice in times of financial difficulty is a gift for a child, and this has really helped us throughout the uncertainty of Brexit too.

Can you tell me about the growth of the company?

Our latest turnover figures were £11.5m, with a company growth of 40% on the previous year. We now have over 120 employees split across our London Head Office and warehouse in Northampton, who personalise over 500 different products using a fully-automated process with the option of next-day delivery.

Can you tell me about your story with Kris Jenner/Kardashians?

My wife and I were in LA when we were out for dinner she noticed Kris Jenner was also eating at the same restaurant with her family. Luck was on my side as we had just created a personalised pair of boots for the birth of Kim Kardashian’s baby, which I had a picture of on my phone, so I decided I had to go over there. As they were in a private room I told the security guard I was a cousin of the family who much to my surprise let me through. I swiftly walked up to Kris to introduce myself but the security guard soon realised I wasn’t really related and tried to remove me from the area. I was absolutely thrilled when Kris told him to let me stay and even went on to ask him to get her a pen so I could pass on my contact details so she could ensure the boots got to Kim safely – she even posed for a selfie with my wife too!

…Downing Street and David Cameron?

I really wanted to get a personalised gift to the Cameron’s so contacted Downing Street saying I was a family friend who had a gift I wanted to deliver. Before I knew it they were asking for my contact and car registration details and I was on my way with my Co-Founder Jonny to deliver it. When we arrived I realised I had forgotten to add Jonny’s name to the list so he wasn’t allowed in and had to stand outside with a group of tourists but they let me drive through to personally deliver the gift. The Cameron’s weren’t in at the time so I left it in the safe hands of one of their assistants.

…working with Prince George and Royal family?

As discussed above, gifting has played a huge part of our companies success so we were absolutely thrilled to see the iconic image of Prince George wearing our robe when he met Obama. This generated an incredible amount of press coverage for us and within just minutes the robe had sold out. This also led to much greater brand awareness globally and following this we were able to expand into the U.S. market. The ‘royal fever’ has only continued to grow and has been fantastic for My 1st Years. For example, we saw incredible growth when Prince Louis was born last year with sales up by 83% year on year. We also drove £100,000 of sales in just two days when we did a Royal Baby offer.

What other celebrities have you worked with?

We work with a wide variety of celebrities on both a gifting and sponsorship level. These range from the smaller ‘mumfluencers’ who have a hugely engaging following to larger celebrity names such as Elton John, Beyoncé and John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. Gifting celebrities and influencers is a core part of our culture at My 1st Years, and it’s thankfully worked well for us so far!

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