Why Flora & Fauna founder Julie Mathers is betting on baby swaddles

“I’ve known the founders of Snuggle Hunny Kids for years, and I heard a while back that they wanted to sell,” Mathers told Inside Retail. “It’s a great little business with a lot of opportunity ahead of it.” 

Founded by Tom and Monique Hession in 2015, Snuggle Hunny Kids is known for its photo-worthy baby swaddles, onesies and birth announcement cards featuring its own unique designs. 

The brand has a strong social media presence, with around 570,000 followers on Instagram, and is stocked in over 2000 retailers in 60 countries worldwide. It currently turns over around $15 million, and Mathers sees significant headroom for growth.

“We’re really focused on evolving the brand from where it is now, so that we can grow and lean into a few different areas,” she said. 

Opportunities for growth

Since acquiring Snuggle Hunny Kids in February, Mathers has already made some changes to the website navigation to make it easier to use, and brought new people into the business with e-commerce expertise, including chief operating officer Tom Abraham, her husband and former COO of Flora & Fauna.

She has also taken steps to expand the brand’s apparel range, with more product categories and styles launching this spring and summer, and she is laying the groundwork for further international expansion down the track. 

“I’ll be looking to expand into other markets, but we need all the systems to be able to do that, and at the moment, we don’t have them,” she said. 

The brand’s biggest overseas markets are the US and UK, though it has a surprisingly strong presence in the United Arab Emirates. 

Mathers is also looking for ways to make Snuggle Hunny Kids more sustainable. While the brand uses natural and organic materials, such as merino wool, linen and cotton, it doesn’t currently use recycled packaging or offset its carbon footprint, which Flora & Fauna did under Mathers’ leadership. 

“Incorporating sustainability into everything that we do is a big focus for me,” she said.

However, it’s not about making Snuggle Hunny Kids another Flora & Fauna. Mathers’ vision for the brand is based on customer feedback. 

“One of the first things I did when I joined the business was send a survey around to our customers as well as our retailers to ask them what they wanted. And they were very quick to tell us,” she said. 

“Listening and learning from our customers will help drive where we’re going. That comes from social media and surveys and doing expos and trade shows. We get such great intel from them.”

Back in the driver’s seat

As CEO and co-owner of Snuggle Hunny Kids, Mathers is back in the driver’s seat of a brand, which she describes as her “happy space”. 

“I just love being able to go in a certain direction and know that we can go there without having red tape to go through,” she said. 

“It’s awesome for me to be taking something that’s really great on a new journey and working with some really good people to do that, so I’m absolutely in my happy space.”

Mathers ran Flora & Fauna for seven years before selling it to BWX. She stayed on post-acquisition to lead the business, and quickly took over responsibility for Nourished Life, an online beauty retailer that BWX acquired in 2017. But less than six months later, she resigned. 

BWX has been struggling financially in recent months, which some analysts have attributed to its spending spree. Besides Flora & Fauna, it also bought a 50.1 per cent stake in Zoe Foster Blake’s Go-To skincare brand for $89 million last year. 

In June, BWX issued new shares at a steeply discounted price to support its operations and pay down its debts, and cut its annual revenue forecasts from $243 million to $206 million. All eyes are on the upcoming presentation of the company’s full-year results. 

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