15 Apr 2020 | Student Life

My 1st Years was founded by Jonny Sitton and Daniel Price in 2008, whilst studying at Leeds Beckett University. They struggled to find a unique gift for a friend’s newborn and realised that there was a gap in the market for high-quality personalised baby gifts. Since 2008, they have won numerous celebrity fans including the Royal family. In this Q&A we asked co-founder Daniel how they got to where they are today and to share any of his own tips. Here’s what he had to say…

Tell us about your business?

Jonny Sitton and I launched My 1st Years in October 2010 when we couldn’t find a unique gift for our friend’s baby. We saw a gap in the market and became the first brand to personalise baby and children’s gifts, whilst guaranteeing next day delivery. Fast forward ten years and My 1st Years is now the number one personalised children’s gift brand in Europe, providing unique products for all occasions. All of our products are high quality and at an affordable price point, with personalisation being complimentary. We offer our iconic luxury turquoise gift box which is loved by celebrities, press and customers alike. We have recently launched an eco gift box as we’re aiming to become a more sustainable brand. Today My 1st Years offers over 500 gift-wrapped products including toys, blankets, clothing, home accessories and pet products, creating lasting memories that can be treasured for years to come.

What was the driving force for you to start your business?

We had a gift to buy for a friends baby and there was nothing unique in the market. At the time I was wearing Nike ID trainers with my initials on and could see that personalisation was going to be huge in the next 5-10 years. I contacted Jonny, who was an old school friend since the age of 4, and we decided to go into business together. One of the driving forces for me as an entrepreneur, and where I get my drive from, was my Dad passing away when I was 13 years old. He was always coming up with ideas and would be proud to see what we’ve achieved so far at My 1st Years.

What are your business’ core values?

We have always remained true to our core values.

1) Celebration

2) Personalisation

3) Playful

4) Differentiated

5) Aspirational

How do you overcome setbacks?

We learn from them. However big the setback, I always look at it as a positive. I encourage our team to make mistakes and learn from them. A good business can overcome any setback thrown at them. We try to prepare for the worst but always aim for the best. We’re not in the business of making mistakes twice or having the same setback repeated. That’s not bad luck, that’s bad preparation and means we haven’t learned.

If you had one piece of advice for students setting out their own business, what would it be?

My advice would be to ask as many people around you, anything, at any time. Don’t just ask family and friends, as they will give you answers you want to hear or don’t care to hear. That’s because they love you and won’t quite see what you have visioned for your business. Go and find people that have done it before, either successfully or unsuccessfully, and learn why it did or didn’t work. Finding a mentor from day one is really important. My advice would be to research who your mentor should be and send them a LinkedIn message to see if they’re interested in helping. Often the most successful people started somewhere similar to where you are and would be happy to help.

Are there any other brands outside your sector that you are following at the moment?

We love what Bloom & Wild are doing right now with their ‘Thoughtful Marketing Movement’. We have recently joined their community, along with many other businesses, to share ideas on how we can be more thoughtful. This is especially important during these uncertain times.

What has your biggest achievement been so far?

My biggest achievement so far is seeing Prince George wear the My 1st Years personalised robe to meet President Barack Obama in Kensington Palace. The robe sold out in 60 seconds and the photo went viral around the world. It was a very proud moment for My 1st Years. The biggest achievement here is that our whole team pulled together and worked so hard. We got all the coverage we could’ve dreamed of and managed to cope with the thousands of incoming orders. This was a turning point in our business.



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