Friday, November 03, 2006

The Business Of Identifying Kids

Nadine Lewis Story

Initially, Identikids began by providing children’s ID cards that were fitted to a car’s rear passenger seats and which contained vital information for emergency services and medical staff in the event of an accident.

The idea worked but didn’t set the world on fire, however the introduction of a new product meant that things changed rapidly for Identikids.

Lewis said: ”Last year the business was very much a home-based, part-time business that I ran in between looking after the kids.

“But now it is completely different kettle of fish.

“A couple of things happened that changed things completely.

“The first one is that I lost one of my children - my son - in a shopping centre in Manchester.

“And at the same time I got requests from parents asking if they could put the ID cards around their children’s necks, so if their kids went missing then they could be contacted.

“So I started to research what could be done to help reunite a lost child with its parent if they were too frightened or young to communicate.”

This research culminated in a wristband, containing the parent’s contact details, that the child could wear. The idea turned out to be a winner.

Lewis said: “There’s been a big growth over the last 12 months. Last summer was the first time that the business started to show real potential.

”We started to supply some councils, nurseries and police forces last year. It was incredibly busy, we sold 150,000 wristbands.”

This boom meant that Identikids were able to move into their first office and start to take on staff.

The companies profile has been boosted by orders from Boots and Mothercare and now turnover for 2006 is projected at a whopping $1,300,000.

However, despite these large orders, Lewis says that funding was difficult to come by.

“It was ludicrous the lengths that we had to go to get finance, even when we had a huge order placed with the company.

“The process dragged on for months, eventually the Bank of Scotland came up with the money, but it was very frustrating.”

Lewis identifies Sally Preston, founder of baby food company Babylicious, as her inspiration.

Preston endured a huge struggle, including cancer and an acrimonious divorce, but was still able to found a successful business.

Lewis also has the support of her husband David who has now joined the company.

Lewis said: “He had worked as a national account manager and has worked for major brands before this.”

“He always said that he would join the business but had never had the courage to do it, however the crunch came in September 2004 when he lost his job.

“So he decided that it was now or never and he took the plunge.”

So what advice would she give to a budding entrepreneur?

“Always expect the unexpected. When you think that things are going to go one way, then think again, as the chances are that things will not work out the way you think they will.

“Running your own business is like sitting on a huge pendulum that swings constantly between huge highs and lows.

“But stick with it. Take the knocks and stand up and try again but always listen to criticism, it’s very easy to take offence.”

Safe Kids: A Complete Child-Safety Handbook and Resource Guide for Parents