October 07, 2021 6 min read
Edwards & Coare a New Zealand stroller brand, based on Auckland's North Shore. They specialise in strollers that are designed to impress, and designed to last, their strollers fun to use, and smooth to push. At Global Baby we've been stocking Edwards & Co since 2018, and it has been rewarding to see our two brands grow together. Anita from Global Baby chatted to Mark Edwards from Edwards & Co to find out what makes this brand tick.
Anita: Your brand was established in 2014, but I think I remember reading somewhere that your dad designed a pram for twins back in the 80's?
Mark: Dad imported a twin stroller from the US over 35 years ago. He couldn’t find a tandem style for my twin brothers at the time, so imported his own. The product wasn’t successful! Haha but he forged a career in the baby industry for many years.
And then in 2014 you and your dad, Warwick, decided to get together and create New Zealand's next iconic stroller brand, is that how it went?
The long story is that Dad was a “one man band” in the baby industry for many years, importing various products. In 2012 Christian (Mark's partner) and I were living in Sydney, in successful careers (Christian is a Chartered Accountant and I was an HR Consultant), but we were keen to come home, so after a few wines we agreed with him to come back to NZ and be sales reps for him (Mum and Dad were really happy with this idea of course!). Initially we lived and worked from their house in Browns Bay, and were paid about $10 an hour for our efforts in the early years of working for him!
During my first year with Dad, it became apparent that we had the contacts and resources to make good quality strollers. At the same time, I didn’t believe the high end stroller brands were properly serving their customers needs. There were fancy mountain running strollers, beautiful (and expensive) city strollers and just plain cheap strollers that all had one thing in common – they weren’t practical. Hard to fold, heavy, clunky and in my opinion they weren’t suitable for most modern parents needs.
We went out with the vision of creating “everyday travel solutions” in a company called Edwards & Co,
Your first big successful product was the Oscar G3 Stroller, would you agree? When was that released?
Oscar was by far our most successful product, it started with the G1 in 2014, the G3 was launched a few years after this in 2017.
What I liked about the Oscar G3, and it was quite unique at the time, was that you could attach the capsule and carry cot to the stroller, without needing adapters. I remember you saying that the idea was to make the whole thing fun and engaging for parents, so that they could get outdoors more. How did you come up with that idea?
When I started Edwards & Co I was at the age where all my friends were having kids. I grilled them to bits about their strollers! What they liked, what they didn’t like. After some time it was clear some of the brands weren’t thinking about the everyday parent and grandparent when designing their strollers.
So Edwards & Co brand mission from Day 1 was to make getting out and about with your kids easy. Nobody wants to be stuck on the side of the road trying to work out how to fold their stroller, nor fussing around with seat belts for their newborn when it’s pouring with rain. We are all about integrated travel solutions so you can spend more time being a happy parent engaging with your kids.
You started Edwards & Co before you were a parent yourself. After you became a parent did your experiences lead you to change, adapt, or design any products?
First of all, I LOVE strollers. So for me, being a parent or not doesn’t matter. I really used feedback as my driver for how to design our products, whether it be answering the phones, monitoring customer service emails, social media or talking to my friends. Now that I’m a parent, I love being able to test our products with my son and it definitely helps using my experience mixed with listening to our customers and employees.
The Oscar G3 was refined and iterated until you launched the Oscar MXin 2020 (or was it 2019?) Do you think that keeping your stroller range small has been key to your success? Right now you still only have the Oscar MX, and your travel stroller, the Otto.
I think both these products have a really close connection with our brand promise which is why they have done well. Our number 1 question from customers is “Are you launching a double stroller”. Which is something we will address early next year!
It’s really important to us that we don’t confuse customers with overwhelming product options. We like to keep it simple and introduce products only people need.
Your brand has become quite famous on social media, was that something that you set out to do, or did it just kind of happen?
This has definitely been organic, I would say most stroller brands have strong social media. But we just love telling a story and we genuinely love our products and our industry, which I think customers can see so they love to engage and join us in our journey together.
I know that you enjoy the product development side of the business. What is the product or feature that you're most proud of?
Yes I LOVE designing our strollers! Christian will tell you it’s constantly on my mind. I’m quite aloof by nature, and if you see me unfocussed, usually it’s because I’m thinking about an improvement or feature.
I’m most proud of the Oscar Mx collection. It was such a stressful and emotional product to get to market. The end result is stunning and for the first time, we not only had a super practical product but something I could say was the most detailed and passionately designed on the market as well. There were so many parts to that product that we spent weeks discussing, improving and testing. It took years and there were lots of sleepless nights and tears!
You have such an amazing team, you seem to hire really professional, experienced people who are all really great advocates for the brand. Do you have a hand in the hiring? And how do you hire people who are so 'on brand'?
You’re right, our team are so incredible. And some of them have grown up with us professionally too which is cool to watch. Every employee except one we have has either been hired from word of mouth or via our local community Facebook page or approached us! And when it comes to selection, honestly we usually go by gut instinct. For us it’s about cultural fit and passion for our products – less about experience. You can tell when somebody isn’t interested or won’t work for whatever reason. We also focus on good pay rates, reward and recognition and genuinely looking after our team members.
Looking back over your business, it has been quite a meteoric rise over the last seven years, right now we think that the Oscar MX is the biggest selling stroller in NZ right? If you could do something differently along the way, what would you change?
Trust my instincts more. As a business owner you’re constantly reminded of risk and cash flow. Paying the bills and paying your staff mixed with people telling you your idea won’t work. So you’re scared to put things on the line in the fear of failure. For Oscar Mx, we waited until we were profitable to start the project but I wish we had done the product earlier because we would be further along now.
I don't know if I'll put this in because new parents get so much advice, that it can become overwhelming, but do you have any advice to parents-to-be?
I guess don’t read too much into how other people raise their kids or worry about how people tell you to raise yours. What works for them won’t necessarily work for you. Who cares if they can’t walk by 1 or talk by 2! At the end of the day they just want your time and love.
Thanks so much!! Can you please send me a picture of you at your warehouse or at your desk because we are nosey.
I really enjoyed this chat with Mark, and I learned quite a lot about his brand. I hope you enjoyed it too. I'm aiming to make Brand Stories series a monthly thing, so keep an eye out for the next one.
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