Growing tired of his food-stained floor while his youngest child was weaning, Joel Parkes took matters into his own hands by creating his own sustainable, suction children’s tableware business, Bamboo Bamboo, after having no luck finding good, pre-existing products of this kind. Raising £2,000 to kickstart the venture in 2016 by selling products and clothes he wasn’t using, Mr Parkes’ business now has a £4million turnover.
After reading the question “Did you know that nearly every piece of plastic ever created still exists?” in a magazine on his commute home, the penny dropped for Mr Parkes.
He decided he was going to invent something that not only simplified his life as a dad but also was plastic-free and eco-friendly.
Speaking about his idea to Express.co.uk, Mr Parkes said: “There are times when you stop and ask yourself why something is the way it is. For me, that was probably while I was cleaning up yet another messy floor after mealtime.
“2015 was a time when social media could quickly show you an ultimate hack or product that would solve your problem, but there was nothing that worked properly for this, only just mediocre solutions.
“I decided to make a product that solved my own problem and the planet’s problem at the same time. If both things bothered me, then I was sure it would also bother others.”
In 2016, Mr Parkes launched Bamboo Bamboo on its own website and through Amazon. This began as a side project, where he spent only an hour working on it a day to “prove and test” his theories about brand building, until the business took off and required his full attention.
He said: “It quickly turned into a side hustle with revenue as our products solved real problems for parents, which then became a full-time business demanding more of my time in 2018.”
The first product Bamboo Bamboo sold was the product Mr Parkes actually needed – a suction baby bowl.
Mr Parkes said: “The product was a big hit and customers quickly started sharing how powerful our bowl’s suction grip was on social media.
“It wasn’t too long after when customers started asking us for spoons, plates, cups and accessories. Our product range today is a collection of what customers have told us they need for their weaning journey.”
Around 65 to 70 percent of Bamboo Bamboo’s sales come from Amazon, with Mr Parkes attributing Fulfilment By Amazon “as the primary reasons for [its] growth,” having helped the company expand easily into new markets across the globe and allowing it “to be known nationwide, pick up multiple awards and be in the hands of many people quickly”.
He said: “Amazon makes it incredibly easy to get your products in front of millions of customers. Not only is it a sales channel, but it also includes, delivery, returns, advertising capabilities, a customer service platform, and the means to expand all of this globally.”
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He said: “I have three pieces of advice I would give based on conversations I have with those who want to get started.
“Don’t look for good ideas. Look for problems to solve.
“Don’t wait to get started. You can start today even if it is just research.
“You don’t need to quit your day job to have a side hustle. Build a side hustle until it becomes your day job.”
To read more about successful side hustles, click here.