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Newborns, Sustainability and Entrepreneurialism

27 June, 2016

Bet Castanyer and Mercè Rovira, founders of The Dida World / The Dida World

The Dida World was founded in 2014 and is striving to consolidate its position as the ecological product benchmark for newborn babies in Spain.

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Bet Castanyer and Mercè Rovira know their market is international. The name ‘The Dida World’ shows this. “We made it in English to project the firm abroad and not be seen as too locally based. But we are trying to ensure the goods are made close to home”. The businesswomen created The Dida World, a company dedicated to the needs of babies in their first year of life, in 2014. “Now we are moving onto the French market with direct retail outlets – we have two stores there for now. We also have a distributor in Chile and have started talks with another one in Colombia. Exports currently represent 5% of total activity, but our business vision involves taking the firm global,” says Bet Castanyer, who previously worked as an export manager for a company that made children’s furniture.

Indeed, that is where the two founders of The Dida World met. When the company closed, they decided there was a need for a firm selling ecological products for newborns. “We knew that overseas there was a great range of sustainable, natural and biodegradable products for newborn babies, but there was nothing here. There are many brands in Spain that offer these types of products for adults, in the food, fashion and cosmetics sectors, but there was nothing for babies. And we thought, ‘That’s for us!’”. It took the women a year to form the company, studying suppliers, building the brand image, sourcing the products and taking the most important decisions regarding the type of firm it would be. One year between getting the groundwork done through to when they finally took the firm public.

 

Distribution

When presenting The Dida World, the founders refer to it as a brand of ecological products for newborns. But behind this short statement is a groundbreaking company capable of spotting a gap in the market and now with two-and-a-half years behind it, with results that have proven that their decision was right. The Dida World has various product lines, all designed for young babies and with a clear common denominator: sustainable, ecological, biodegradable and of the highest quality. The brand has its own products, for which it draws on carefully selected suppliers (mostly local) to meet its demanding sustainability standards. They also sell their product range in multibrand stores which specialise in babywear, but always “focused on careful and responsible parenting”.

“When we started the project we didn’t have a customer portfolio. We began from scratch, initially selling to all different sorts of establishments dedicated to newborn babies. We shortly realised that we had to find a more specific customer profile, in the sense of parenting stores, because they met two of our requisites: they had ecological products, indeed sometimes it was the only type of product they stocked, and they were very much geared towards it,” says Castanyer. They were places which often didn’t just sell products but also ran activities for mothers and babies such as yoga, babywearing workshops and different therapies aimed at responsible parenting. They clearly had a clientele that knew about and wanted the products The Dida World was offering. At the same time, the company also included herbalists and health food shops as its customers, a sales channel where “you can find a great range of ecological products”. The result of this adjustment led to end customers who are, according to Castanyer, a mix of multibrand stores “heavily involved with what The Dida World offers”.

The two partners have a very good idea of where their products fit on the market because they carry out part of the sales actively themselves. They have no doubt about the importance of maintaining close ties with the end outlet that retails The Dida World. “We have two representatives in Catalonia who also look after the Balearic Islands and Aragon. But we visit the customers ourselves because it is a great chance to swap information. We can find out about the end customer’s reaction and above all learn about new needs in order to expand the references we carry. The lunch boxes came out of that process,” says Castanyer, referring to one of the company’s latest launches, a biodegradable lunch box made from rice husks which has proven very successful with customers. With regard to multibrand stores, Castanyer and Rovira say the most important thing is to “establish bonds of trust to get them to commit to The Dida and act as opinion leaders”.

 

The Dida Universe

Items for feeding babies, such as lunch boxes and cutlery, daily care items including sponges, towels, brushes and combs, and clothing collections. All of this, as well as products jotted down in a notebook under the title “new ideas”, are part of The Dida’s offering. It is a list of references which, without more information, might seem conventional but which offers customers major added value. Behind each of the abovementioned products is a quality seal or official certificate proving its ecological and sustainable composition. For example, Dida Baby is the name of the range of baby clothes for newborns made entirely from organic cotton. “One line is made from raw cotton, in other words, cotton straight from the plant. The other is made from dyed cotton, with water-based biodegradable dyes. We have clothes to dress babies from the day they are born through to the age of three months,” says Castanyer. When discussing this line, she emphasises the fact that the entire process for obtaining a piece meets sustainability criteria. “We have the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) seal, meaning that our supplier uses no pesticides, upholds ethical work conditions and decent wages and ensures that no child labour is involved. We like to tell people this because it’s very important”. This seal, given to suppliers who meet these and other similar requirements, have been checked externally to ensure that surrounding fields also grow crops without chemical elements that could reach the crops that supply The Dida.

Today the firm offers 100 dyed clothing references for babies. It also has the clothing line made from raw cotton, a range which emerged in response to customer demand. Castanyer says Dida Baby will shortly begin to include accessories such as “single-piece booties made from merino wool with water and soap. They don’t scratch the skin or itch because they are seamless. And we are continuing to expand the collection”. With a view on consolidating and growing the brand and boosting its renown amongst the target public, Castanyer and Rovira innovate every day to supply a market segment which is increasingly approaching the sustainable consumption trends of the rest of Europe.

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