Designed by a family, for families, the idea for Brolly Sheets came from Kiwi mum Diane. When her daughter was sleeping in a bottom bunk, every time Diane changed her wet bed, BANG went her head on the top bunk. There had to be an easier way and that’s where their first product and brand Brolly Sheets was born! Now over 15 years old, it is still very much a family business but operating on a global scale, supporting families across New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA. They are all about making life a little bit easier for parents, with waterproof bedding protection and toilet training products as well as items for the whole family. They believe you should buy once and buy well, and are committed to washable, reusable products that are made to last.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
At first, I was just making my life easier at 2 am, when changing a wet bed. When friends started asking me to make a brolly sheet for them, the idea of a business started to form – something that I would work around the kids with.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
In 2006, I found a local sewer to make the brolly sheets for me (I was not a patient enough sewer to go into production) and then I started doing markets. It was a way to see if people would actually pay for them and if they could become a viable business. Your friends and family will always say it is a great idea, but getting strangers to pay for your idea is another thing!
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
In terms of biggest breakthroughs, I have two:
- At the markets, I was asked if they were absorbent enough for adults, so I redesigned them to be great for adults and kids. This doubled the size of my market overnight.
- We had travelled a lot with my husband’s work, so I wanted to sell through a website that I could manage from anywhere. I created our first site back in 2006 at a time when there were not many around, so it was much easier to get traction online.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
It’s a lot easier now my kids are 19 and 21 but back in the early days, I worked around the kids, mainly evenings and weekends. Once my youngest started kindy, we really took off as I had a whole morning to concentrate on work. The kids have grown up with Brolly Sheets so they haven’t known any different, plus the fact Glenn is totally on board and has always shared everything to do with the kids, the house and the business has been a blessing. Also – I love what I do.