Website of the Year

Giggling Hedgehogs

Jenelle Clifford talks about the online marketplace for locally made crafts and hand-made gifts.

Giggling Hedgehogs is an online marketplace that brings buyers and sellers of local crafts and handmade gifts together. It’s a friendly place to sell handmade items and buy genuine British designed and crafted goods in a safe, easy and convenient manner. We talk to founder, Jenelle Clifford, to find out more.

What was the inspiration for the site?

I am a wife and mum of two gorgeous girls. They love hedgehogs and they giggle… a lot! They, along with loads of other amazing people I have met over the last six years have inspired me to launch Giggling Hedgehogs.

My little cherubs came up with the name when we were bandying around words and names and making up funny phrases (as you do!) and suddenly… out it came… Giggling Hedgehogs! Perfect!!

I had dreamt about launching my own ‘small business marketing’ concept for a long time. I’ve always wanted to launch my own business, but the real impetus and strategy was laid down when I had a little too much time on my hands during a three month recuperation period after an accident during a renovation project… I fell through our first floor and broke my back! Three spinal operations later, it’s all totally fine!

When I became a mum myself, I met so many incredible people who created something amazing and genuinely loved doing it! They just did not have the time or inclination to take it any further. They had a fabulous creative talent that they loved, but was not their day job – and they had no real route to market that was financially viable for them.

This gave me the idea. I wanted to support and assist small businesses to help launch their creations and do it affordably, and in their own time. A local environment with no huge joining fees and the flexibility of dipping in and out as they please. Ultimately, I wanted to create a friendly place for creative mums and dads to get on and set up their business affordably.

When did you launch the site?

The site was launched on the 1 October 2014 and we now have over 500 shops on our books!

What are your greatest challenges?

Giggling Hedgehogs is a startup that literally came from absolutely nothing but the ink on my paper. On the hard days I try to make myself sit back and remember that… It’s a hard slog starting a small business, financially, mentally and physically. But it’s so incredibly worth it! I love what I do and that makes me a very lucky person.

One of the biggest and most prominent challenges I had to understand that Rome was not built in a day! Some days, you need to just keep going and do your best and the results will follow!

My biggest challenge was to actually get Giggling Hedgehogs launched and to facilitate such huge growth so quickly….

We’ve only been running for one year, so financially, every penny goes back into the business to help promote our sellers. I needed to obtain extra funding and I’m so proud of the very generous endorsement and grant from Smarta startup business loans which has helped to launch a new and improved website that keeps us in the realm of our competitors. I was very proud to receive the funding to enhance the business and a glowing endorsement of Giggling Hedgehogs from the Smarta Team. They were pleased that I had researched and identified a clear gap in the market and pursued it so vigorously.

What's your background?

I have always been in Corporate Marketing Management and I just love supporting small businesses so I feel really lucky to be working in my own business utilising and developing all the core and favourite skills like web design, PR, promotions, social media, copywriting and small network/business support.

Who do you admire in business?

I admire the people who support, mentor and take the time to make themselves available to companies like Giggling Hedgehogs. It’s so important for new businesses to be able to network and learn from others.

Please recommend a website that helps you promote or run your business

Remove the Background: for us, it’s all about promoting our fabulous shops. So we need great images. Remove the Background does a wonderful job at this and ensures that we have fabulous images to provide to the press.

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given?

Rome was not built in a day.

What is your motto?

Always try to do your very best

Where do you see the business going from here?

It’s in the figures, in less that one year Giggling Hedgehogs has grown from nothing to a renowned online marketplace with over 500 shops and thousands of products. We are generating regular sales, press mentions and promotions for our clients and are set to run at a profit throughout year two.

Our goal in the coming months is to increase awareness, enhance the website and become 'the place to buy and sell Unique, British and Handmade items in the UK.'

Giggling Hedgehogs is set to bridge a gap in the UK market and help small businesses launch their products on a large scale. We project that the number of sellers will grow from 600 in year one to over 3000 in year three. In five years, we are really looking forward to conducting external events, trade fairs and forging forward the global growth of the Giggling brand and our fabulously creative people in and around the UK!

Have you entered an award before?

Yes I was recently nominated for the Mumpreneur UK Awards… and I am a finalist in the Pillar Category! Very exciting!

Where did you hear about the GWG Awards?

I discovered the awards on Google.

December 2014