TNP reached out to Sandra Ebbott, founder and managing director of Mizzie The Kangaroo, with a few questions about her adorable baby/pre-school brand Mizzie The Kangaroo. And Sandra responded to our questions directly from the company’s head office based in Brisbane, Australia!
Offering a better understanding of the business, she talked about where the initial idea behind the brand came from, her team’s achievements to date, as well as her goals for launching globally. She also shared her experiences of introducing Mizzie to UK retail amid the outbreak of the pandemic and explains how she adapted the business to meet her customers’ needs during these unprecedented times.
Watch the video below to learn more! Or if you'd prefer, please read her responses to our questions below.
Where did the idea behind Mizzie the Kangaroo originate?
After working for some of the world’s biggest brands across three countries, I settled back in Brisbane with my husband. When our daughter was born and started teething, I realised how much of an emotional time it was for not only the bubs, but also the parents, especially first-time parents. I also discovered that there weren’t many products, characters and brands out there that took young bubs on a fun learning journey from that emotional time, where they need comfort and a caring hand, all the way through to the toddler years. And so, after many drawings and two FULL years of research and development, Mizzie The Kangaroo was born in 2015, nearly five years ago today!
Mizzie’s is now known as ‘Home of Australia’s Original Natural Teething and Educational Toys’, and our purpose is to help little ones, aged 0-3 years, develop through fun.
What were your initial goals for the brand?
My goal was always to eventually launch globally, so that children from around the world could benefit from our fun educational toys, and Mizzie could really become THE kangaroo character that develops young ones through fun, no matter where they are. Of course, our hero product is our 100 per cent Natural Rubber Teething Toy, and all of our toys incorporate our Mizzie character to teach age-appropriate skills in a typically Aussie way – natural, fun, safe and caring.
Tell us about your success in the Australian baby/pre-school market.
Mizzie The Kangaroo distributes to over 400 retailers across Australia, from the big high street names, to the gorgeous independents, we want to be where our customers are! We also have retailers at Aussie tourist attractions, pharmacies and airports and, of course, have high online engagement through our Shopify channel.
Why did you want to move into the UK and other European markets?
We’ve always had a demand from the UK and Europe through our Australian online sales, and we are approached daily through our socials from European consumers about wanting to have our products, so it was our natural next step! Additionally, I had lived and worked in Europe and the UK for over 10 years and have a great connection and understanding of the European customers, including being able to communicate with them in their own languages!
What stage were you at in the process of establishing yourself in these new markets when governments began imposing measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?
I was actually just in the UK this past February, discussing with some wonderful retailers, distributors and partners. Mizzie was one of six Aussie brands selected to be part of an Accelerator Programme, supported by Trade and Investment QLD and UQ. It was a very positive and successful trip, and we we’ve been working towards seeing our products on shelves before the end of this year.
Can you outline the challenges that the company has faced in bringing Mizzie to these new markets amid the Covid-19 pandemic and were there any learning you have taken away from this?
Needless to say, with retail across the UK largely shut down, it’s been a challenge indeed – things have been delayed, but we just have to keep pushing through. A learning experience that I faced was ensuring we are always prepared for unforeseeable issues. For example, we have been distributing through Amazon for our UK and USA orders and during the pandemic, they had enforced a policy not accepting new product into some warehouses. During this time, a few Mizzie items actually sold out on Amazon, which is always amazing, but then we had to really get in and figure out how we would replenish the Amazon stock, so it was definitely a challenging situation.
With people spending more time at home, and more time online, you’ve been driving brand awareness in the UK with influencer activity. Can you talk to us about how successful this has been?
While most of our UK and Australian retailers and partners were closed, we turned our focus to online sales. First, we ran a shout out on our socials about Mizzie Brand Ambassador and there was so much interest – we had hundreds of applications! It was really tough to choose, but we ended up selecting 25 new ambassadors across six countries and have been super happy with the engagement that has come through to Mizzie!
We also teamed up the Parent Squad, which is a collaboration between the UK’s trusted pregnancy and baby resource, Emma’s Diary, and families online.
The Parent Squad are actual UK parents, who share their experiences and reviews using our products and through this we’ve had 10 reviews, 52k reach and eight per cent engagement, which is well above industry average!
We’ve also been featured on prominent parenting magazines and we’ve been getting some consistent product placement on a monthly basis, which we’re very grateful for.
Your product is available online – have you noticed any change in consumer habits since EU countries and the UK went into lockdown?
Yes, we definitely have noticed a boost in parents looking for at home solutions to engaging their bubs in fun, purposeful play since things like playgroup and school have been closed. As our toys all have a fun and educational twist, while still being super engaging, we are definitely getting consumer interest. We’ve also had a lot of interest from grandparents looking to find the perfect thing to send their grandchildren. We know that grandparents are really missing seeing the little ones in their life, so we’ve taken measures to ensure they can include a meaningful note and really show their love through a beautiful toy that will also benefit the little one’s development.
Also, no matter what happens in the world, people are still having babies and handling teething, and we have noticed that parents are, more than ever, trying to find solutions online to teething pain and soothing gums, so we’ve really kicked up our social marketing to suit this. Teething won’t stop for a pandemic, so neither will we!
Have you been doing anything else to introduce the Mizzie the Kangaroo brand to UK and EU consumers?
Yes, we have really jumped on the chance to get the Mizzie name into European and UK households! So far, we’ve been part of the Baby Club UK’s £2500 Giveaway, which was an amazing opportunity to be featured amongst household favourites like, Sudocrem and Pampers. We are taking advantage of an upcoming Toys ‘n’ Playthings Ambassador Special to become an TNP Ambassador-approved pre-school brand, which will be an amazing step for our UK expansion. And we also have engaged in blogger competitions and giveaways, which consumers have been absolutely loving!
And, in terms of UK retail, where would you love to see your product? Are there any department stores, attractions, etc. where you’d be particularly excited to see your brand?
All retailers are important to us! From big high street names such John Lewis, Selfridges, JoJo Maman Bébé and pharmacies, to our beautiful independent boutiques. We want to be where are customers are, so we ensure retailers we work with are a good fit for our millennial parents. They want quality, they love natural products, environmentally friendly products, and mostly, toys with purpose, and ours is very clear.
Finally, what can UK retailers expect from you, as a supplier, should they begin to work with you?
First, attention to detail. Then, we are the brand, and we design our products internally, which means that we can be proactive to customer and retailer demands, and sometimes even create special exclusive packs, providing it makes sense. We also have access to customers, we are parents ourselves, which means we understand the needs and wants of today’s parents, and we are keen to work with parents and our retail partners, to make it all work.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We really feel for all retailers going through a tough time right now. Our thoughts are with you, and we know this situation is temporary. We are here, and we are ready, when they are, to start building a wonderful working relationship.
For more information about Mizzie The Kangaroo, click here.