A woman’s attempt to spare her young son’s blushes has put her on the road to a start-up she hopes will help others in similar situations.
Mother-of-five Ruth Fuller became concerned for her son Ben, six, when he was forced to miss a charity sleepover with school because he was worried about having an “accident” in the night.
He was embarrassed about the prospect of wearing a disposable pull-up nappy designed for older children so instead reluctantly turned down the opportunity to hang out with his friends.
“It was such a shame that Ben had to miss out but we couldn’t expect a teacher to wake him up in the night to take him to the toilet the way we did at home,” said Ruth.
“The experience got me thinking about how many children must be in the same boat – missing out on Scout trips, sleepovers and the exciting adventures that come with growing up. I looked everywhere for a solution but there was nothing on the market that was effective and discrete but also designed to look like their ordinary, trendy pants.
“Kids are so self-conscious anyway as they are growing up and want to fit in. The last thing they want is something bulky, medical-looking that rustles and is going to attract attention from their peers.”
And after further research revealed that up to 10 per cent of the population in the UK suffer from a form of incontinence, Ruth realised there was an opportunity to address the problem with adults too.
Drawing on her experience as a mother using washable and disposable nappies, she began experimenting with different types of fabrics and layering techniques before enlisting the help of a company in Nottingham to develop a prototype.
Hundreds of experiments later, her brand, Maybo, has a patent pending for a garment that holds up to 100ml of liquid and features three layers of fabric designed to wick away moisture, absorb it and keep the wearer dry. It has been incorporated into a range of stylish and slimline pants for men, women and children as well as a nursing bra.
Ruth, who lives in Derbyshire, approached Transmit Startups in preparation for the launch of the business. After working on her application with business adviser Shirley Wilson, she secured a £19,850 start-up loan to pay for stock.
Transmit is a leading provider of government-backed start-up loans, having supported 6,503 entrepreneurs with over £70.2 million. The programme provides fixed-interest loans and high impact mentoring to aspiring business owners across the UK who might be struggling to access other forms of finance.
I’ve done an awful lot of soul searching, With so many big companies out there – I’ve asked myself how I can compete?
Ruth said: “I chose Transmit because they seemed more approachable and less intimidating than the high street banks and I knew I wouldn’t meet the lending criteria of the big banks anyway. I read about all of the other successful small businesses they had supported and the offer of a mentor to help me take the business forward and it filled me with confidence.”
Production on Maybo’s launch range will begin once Lockdown restrictions are lifted in Portugal, the base of the family-run business which has partnered with Ruth to oversee manufacturing.
Despite causing a delay in the launch of her business, Ruth hopes changing attitudes brought about by the pandemic towards protecting the environment and supporting small companies will work well for Maybo.
She said: “I’ve spent about 18 months thinking about doing this and done an awful lot of soul searching! With so many big companies out there – I’ve asked myself how I can compete.
“But then I realised I had created something I really cared about – something that could make a real difference to daily life for so many people and make an impact on the environment. I’m a small company with a big passion. My mission is to break down the taboo around incontinence and I think now is the perfect time to shine.”
Ruth aims to expand the initial Maybo collection to include more styles and colours and hopes to eventually adapt the range to meet the needs of buyers with disabilities.
Business advisor Shirley Wilson, said: “Like most successful entrepreneurs, Ruth’s brilliant business was born from finding a solution to a problem she has experienced. I’m sure this first-hand knowledge, combined with her infectious enthusiasm, will mean she’ll be a roaring success.”
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