The director of eco-toy company Babipur has told budding entrepreneurs in Gwynedd that all they need to get started is a phone.

Peter Barton and his wife Jolene launched Babipur in Porthmadog in 2007 when online shopping was in its infancy. It’s grown into a £5 million a year business employing 25 people.

The company specialises in environmentally friendly, ethically sourced products for children and families, including mainly wooden toys, organic clothes, reusable nappies and health and skincare goods.

As well as having an expanding customer base across the UK, Babipur exports as far afield as South Korea, Australia and America.

Peter was among the speakers at a social media masterclass organised by Lafan business consultancy, on behalf of Gwynedd Council, as part of the pioneering Dyfodol Digidol (Digital Future) scheme.

The project received funding from the Gwynedd Shared Prosperity Fund and is available free of charge to businesses in Gwynedd.

Companies get three one-to-one mentoring sessions from a digital expert and can choose from 30 different training workshops.

Other speakers at the event in Criccieth included Catrin Hughes from Bangor-based Dwylo Bach (Small Hands), which supports mums and babies, and Efa Lewis Roberts and Sian Powell from marketing company, Cwmni Alaw, who work with Prynu'n Lleol Gwynedd (Buy Local Gwynedd), was set up to encourage residents and visitors to buy locally.

Hosting the session was social media expert Beth Woodhouse, who runs marketing agency Marketshed.

Lafan; Dyfodol Digidol; Speaker Catrin Hughes.
Speaker Catrin Hughes. Photo: Mandy Jones (Picture Mandy Jones )

Beth said: “We’ve had some fantastic insights from all our speakers who brought their top tips and shared their experiences in developing their brands on social media.

“Selling online enables a business to be located anywhere and Babipur are a brilliant example of how you still have a global reach if you harness the power of social media.

“Peter, Jolene and their team are a real inspiration to all budding entrepreneurs in Gwynedd.”

Peter said Babipur started small as a “kitchen table” enterprise, working from home with boxes of products stored under their bed.

“We didn’t have anything to start with so we went to the bank and got a £2,000 loan and just gave it a shot.

“We didn’t sell anything for a number of weeks and then one day we sold one wooden toy and we were really excited.”

From then on, the company just grew and grew to the point where it’s now based in the 35.000 sq ft former premises of the Gelert outdoor clothing and equipment company in Porthmadog, with a brand-new showroom about to be opened.

“We got into e-commerce in the early days and we provide parents with products they maybe can’t find in high street shops.

“We thoroughly research everything to ensure our products meet certain ethical credentials and that the materials used are natural.

“For example, with anything made from organic cotton we need to make sure the garment makers are paid fairly through supply chain vetting.

“We could not exist as a company in this area without ecommerce – our products are quite niche and our audience is global.

“The secret I think is to offer something you can’t typically buy from the big operators like Amazon and the big shops. You must have a point of difference because it’s really competitive out there.

“As well as offering our customers something different, there has to be an element of trust through telling our story and our beliefs through social media.

“Anyone can do it. There’s a huge opportunity. If you’ve got a product or a service, you can access the whole world with your phone. The possibilities are endless.”

Attended was Eirian Fielding who runs a clothes shop Tŷ Martha in Porthmadog.

She felt the session would help her be more confident about using social media in future.

She said: “I’ve had new ideas and I’ve also been able to talk with other people and I know that I’m not alone. You don’t know if you’re doing it properly, so it’s nice to be able to talk to other people who are in the same situation.”

Kathryn Williams who runs a fishmonger and seafood deli, Pysgod Llŷn, in Pwllheli, also got a lot out it.

She said: “It’s been insightful. I’m not unfamiliar with social media but my page is a bit jaded and I just wondered if there’d be something for me in this meeting today, just to give me help as well on how to do these things.”

The sentiment was echoed by clothes and shoe designer Mary Gwen who has a workshop on the Glynllifon Estate.

She said: “What’s really important if you’re based here is being able to sell online breaks down geographical boundaries. We are out in the sticks but with the internet our digital footprint becomes our shop window to the whole world.

“This afternoon has been really, really interesting and it’s important to keep up to date with the latest information and I have heard about things I haven’t used, so I can go away and explore that a bit more.

“In terms of building confidence and talking to other people, there’s also peer-to-peer learning which is really helpful. I have really enjoyed it.”

For more on the Dyfodol Digidol scheme email Lafan ([email protected]) or call 01248 665624.

Lafan; Dyfodol Digidol;Peter Barton.
Peter Barton from Babipur. Photo: Mandy Jones (Picture Mandy Jones )