Dotty Bee founder looks to sell
Katherine Brady, founder of online baby bouquet retailer Dotty Bee, is to sell the business ahead of leaving Hong Kong.
Dotty Bee was established in 2011 and has since expanded into Singapore and Spain, with potential to add other markets. Beside online sales, the company has retail clients including Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Eugene Baby, Bumps to Babes, Partytime and the Hong Kong Design Gallery. It is listed on 26 online marketplaces.
“It is sad to be selling as it is still a growing business. But I believe it needs to stay in Asia and so have come to the decision to sell as I will be going to the UK or Australia where the concept is already established by other companies,” Brady told Inside Retail Hong Kong.
Brady founded Dotty Bee while working part time as a marketing consultant. After exhausting sightseeing options, she looked for something “a little more productive to do” with her mornings.
The concept – selling flower bouquets made with baby clothes to parents and retailers for sale as gifts – is based on a similar concept in the UK, but adapted to the Asian market.
“When a new baby arrives you want to celebrate and spoil them – a baby clothes bouquet can do both. It has the wow factor when the new parents open the gift and includes useful items of baby clothing, a perfect gift combination,” says Brady.
“I bought similar products over from the UK to test the market first. After there was interest I looked into finding a manufacturer who would do my own brand and designs.”
She found that company in Shanghai – along with a machine which rolls the clothing into tight flower buds from which the ‘bouquets’ are created.
She credits a background in marketing for helping keep the start-up costs modest.
“I qualified as a graphic designer so did all my brand, packaging and website design myself. I worked in a marketing agency and so I knew how to do basic SEO and market the company.
“When I received my own brand products is when the company really took off. Due to lower product costs I could then approach retailers, do promotions and work with other affiliates. Before them I just sold on my own website.”
Awareness gradually built, but Brady recalls while word of mouth is great in Hong Kong, it does take time.
“I worked on getting featured in magazines, online magazines, blogs. Getting a social media following. The only advertising I pay for is Google Adwords. I found other advertising does not give me a good return on investment.”
Dotty Bee has deliberately eschewed physical shops, even pop-ups.
“Due to the high rent costs in Hong Kong I have not even entertained the thought of a physical store. As we are stocked by a lot of retailers all over Hong Kong customers are never far from a store that has our product, so I do not see the need or desire to have one – and I sure wouldn’t want the stress.”
Brady says she is in talks with several potential buyers for the business, but is still seeking expressions of interest.