Q&A: Aileen Rogers from Ready Girls
We discuss the business of puberty, breaking into the Middle East and marketing niche products with Aileen Rogers, founder of ‘Ready Girls’, makers of period packs for tweens and teens.
Having graduated from Trinity with a degree in Management, and after working for 15 years in services marketing, Aileen was inspired to set up her own company after her two eldest girls hit puberty.
Where did the idea for Ready Girls come from?
The idea of Ready Girls came about as a result of my experience with my own pre teen. An early bloomer and a very unwilling participant in puberty, she really didn’t want to know about all the changes and especially about periods.
Having been unable to find period packs in stores or online I put together a period pack for her. If she got her first period in school or away from home she would have everything she needed
What products do you provide, and who are your customers?
We currently sell four products:
- Our Hero product is: ‘Ready Girls Essential Period Pack for Tweens and Teens’. The pack is designed to look like a pencil case or glasses case, so the girl feels comfortable having it in her schoolbag.
- We have a three day refill pack for this product also.
- Our third product is: ‘Ready Girls for Mums Who Wiggle and Giggle’: This is a mild incontinence pack for ladies who suffer from mild incontinence or have the occasional urinary leak.
- Our fourth product is: ‘Ready Girls for Top Teens and Club Queens’: This is a mini period pack for girls who are going out for a night or away for the weekend.
What’s your route to market?
We are currently selling in over 400 pharmacies around Ireland including the likes of Sam McCauley’s and Bradleys. We have focused on the pharmacy retailer to date. We also sell on our own website www.readygirls.com. We Sell on Amazon.UK and a number of other online stores like Mykidsstore and SecretFashionFixes. We sell throughout the Middle East and are currently working on the USA.
What makes Ready Girls different to the other options on the market?
Ready Girls is unique to the market. There are no direct comparisons to the product. We are specifically targeting the pre teen. Having said that, we obviously compete against the main feminine hygiene product producers.
We are helping to open up discussions on topics that women are not necessarily comfortable with. Our research shows that girls between the ages of 9 and 14 don’t want to use the product that their mother or their older sister uses. They want something unique to them. Ready Girls provides this.
You were selected for the first ever female propeller programme at the DCU Ryan Academy. How has your business progressed since then?
Firstly, I was absolutely thrilled to be selected. Over 135 companies applied, so to have made it to the final twelve was fantastic. As part of the programme, we really got under the skin of our business and looked at where we wanted to go and how we were going to get there.
It was apparent that the international markets were the way forward for Ready Girls. So from introductions made through the Ryan Academy, I attended the world beauty fair in Dubai, and this really was a turning point for the business.
We came home from the fair having identified a number of companies who wished to distribute our products throughout the Middle East. We currently sell in over 9 countries there and are continuing to grow that market.
One of the best things that I personally got out of the programme was the new network of twelve female-owned businesses that I am now a part of.
What initial challenges did you face when setting up the brand?
We are a niche product and getting market traction on a small budget has not been without its difficulties. There is still a feeling of taboo about discussion female menstruation in Ireland and indeed abroad, so opening up discussions on the topic has been interesting to say the least! That said, Ready Girls has always received amazing support across the board and that is why we are where we are today.
Sourcing the product provide somewhat problematic. I now use a sourcing company who are based here in Ireland, but have a team in China who ensure everything is up to standard. The other issues have been getting the opportunities to discuss Ready girls. The topic which we address i.e. Periods was definitely an issue especially when trying to get air time and generate PR.
How have the Local Enterprise Office Dublin City supported your business so far?
The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Dublin City has been amazing; from the very early stages, when I did their mentoring programme, to the financial aid they gave the business by way of a feasibility study, a trade visit grant and a business development grant.
I have attended numerous training courses over the past two years which have really helped me on areas I needed to brush up on. I am also a member of the LEO Dublin City Women’s Network, which provides me with fantastic support.
What are your ‘top tips’ for succeeding in business generally?
- Be passionate about what you are doing. If you don’t believe in yourself and your idea, how can anyone else?
- Be yourself and be honest.
- Don’t try to impress people, just be who you are.
- Know your figures. Always keep an eye on the bottom line.
- Employ people who are experts in what you are not! And employ the best.
- Network! I am a firm believer in networking; you never know who the person standing next to you might know!
What future aspirations and goals do you have in store for Ready Girls?
We are working on getting our product range into the USA. That is the main focus for this year and developing the online sales side of the business. After that, the world is our oyster.
Our thanks to Aileen Rogers for taking part in this interview.
For more information around the products which Ready Girls offer, please visit www.readygirls.com, or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/readygirls, or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arreadygirls