Inventor of child restraints locks in growth

NARELLE HENSON

Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014
 Bianca Richardson from Houdini Solutions and in car seat with the Houdini car seat stop Zara Hargreaves

Bianca Richardson from Houdini Solutions and in car seat with the Houdini car seat stop Zara Hargreaves

KELLY HODEL/ Fairfax NZ
BUCKLED IN: Bianca Richardson from Houdini Solutions looks on as Zara Hargreaves is strapped into a car seat.

Small Business

Bianca Richardson has a firm grip on her business – and you would expect her to.

After all, the full-time mum, part-time businesswoman invented a range of products aimed at stopping escape-artist children from getting into trouble.

Five years after founding InKIDable Solutions in Hamilton, the firm’s self-proclaimed chief inventor and bottle-washer has just signed off a distribution deal in the UK and Ireland.

She is hoping for one in Europe, too, and last week sent off her first shipment of products to the United Arab Emirates.

It all started when Richardson’s youngest daughter, Jessica, was born. From the moment she entered the world six weeks early, she was on the go, says Richardson. By 18 months, Jessica would often perform escape tricks from her kiddie seat, ending up standing on the back seat of the car.

“There was nothing I could do to stop her, I couldn’t tighten straps hard enough, she wouldn’t listen, I threatened her with a police officer, she just wouldn’t understand the danger of getting out of her car seat,” says Richardson.

After finding one product that Jessica outwitted “within five seconds”, Richardson decided to head to Spotlight and come up with a solution herself.

“It worked really well, and one of my friends who was having the same problem asked me to make her one, and then there was another person that asked, and then I realised that there was a bit of a gap in the market.”

After a bit of market validation on the internet, Richardson began producing the Houdini Stop, a small strap which prevents children from leaving their car seats.

“Originally I thought I could make a couple of hundred dollars a year or something, so I thought it would be like a hobby.

“But it got busier and busier, and now I’m working 30-odd hours a week in the business and I sold 40,000 Houdini Stops last year.”

While she’s quiet on the turnover and profit, Richardson is more than happy to share revenue growth over the five years since she started out in business.

“The first year was probably about $500, then it went to about $5000, and then there was $128,000 and this year $230,000 in revenue.”

About 90 per cent of her sales are overseas.

“At this stage my largest distribution country is Australia, but once I get my certifications, which I’m going for, my UK and my Irish distributors will be bigger.”

Richardson entered the Australian market in 2010, and is now sending between 3500 and 4000 products a month there.

She hopes to be sending at least 5000 units to Ireland and the UK once her certification comes through.

There are now five products in the range, with three more under development. They prevent children from escaping from their bedrooms, bedsheets, strollers, high chairs and even their own clothes.

– Stuff

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