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MEET THE MAKERS: SCOOTASOOT

At a recent show Justine found a product like nothing we’d ever seen before. Meet Scootasoot. A fully waterproof outer shell for kids who love the outdoors. ‘Nothing new’ I hear you cry… and that is where you’re wrong. The Scootasoot is not like anything else on the market. And that’s because founder and creator Lotty Harrison had a problem, that she couldn’t find a solution for. So guess what, she just went on and did it herself. Jo Chadwick met up with Lotty to chat about her story and how the product came into being.

SO MANY FUNCTIONS

JC: So, tell us about Scootasoot – what’s the elevator pitch?
LH: Scootasoot is a super-lightweight, portable, breathable, all-in-one waterproof for children with a unique magnet fastening system. The design has children’s safety as a priority, EN1150 reflective tape to make them more visible and a hood that only fits if they wear a helmet. Velcro at the wrists and ankles makes it a perfect fit and it can be thrown on in the middle of a downpour without removing shoes. It can be worn over clothes without making your little person a sweaty mess! Best of all, the Scootasoot is easy to put on, and easy to take off, simple actions that don’t leave you frustrated and your little one soaked.

THE FINAL PRODUCT

JC: And when did it come about – tell us about your journey 
LH: I launched in February this year, but had the idea when my son was small and we had a 3/4 mile scoot to school. So many times when we left the house it was sunshine all around, halfway there the heavens would open and we would be drenched. At that time I worked for PlayStation, auditing factories in China. They eventually decided to make me redundant, they got Chinese people to audit the Chinese factories (clever!!!) so I trained as a Dog Groomer and started work on my waterproof suit. I bought the cheapest sewing machine in Argos, ordered reams of inexpensive waterproof fabric from the internet and learnt how to sew. I met some incredible people along the way including a chap who was very spiritual and told me he had put all his good intentions into some patter paper. I went through 5 revisions of a shape and then changed everything because I decided on a magnet fastening side. That was a MASSIVE breakthrough.

MAKING IT HAPPEN

I wanted my product to be Made in Britain, so attended a show on Brick Lane, aptly named “Make It British”. There I met a seamstress who relieved me of my patterns and made me 12 suits (4 small, 4 medium and 4 large), all in my cheap navy waterproof fabric. I’d hoped she might do a wonderful job but she did a RUBBISH job and took lots of my cash. So I found a ladies’ fashion Atelier in Greenwich to help me smarten up the design. The next 4 months were spent back and forth to Greenwich to approve design revisions. Eventually, the design looked great. It was time to create the ear and tail accessories. I searched high and low until I found a website full of creative people. Based upon the fact she had worked on costume design for Lord of the Rings, I chose to work with a lady from Finland and developed the bunny, cat and piglet accessories. That was the point at which I got really excited. I put the very first Scootasoot on my niece – who was then 6 – and she LOVED it! A fluorescent yellow all in one with cat ears and a tail in the same colour!

The last bit of the puzzle was to choose a manufacturer. I thought this would be easy peasy. It was awful! The textile industry isn’t big on sharing contacts. Everyone keeps very quiet when they find a good manufacturer and word of mouth recommendations are simply not a thing. I tried to find someone in London first…no joy. I tried Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool all to no success, then I called a workwear company in the West Midlands and struck gold. The manufacturer has a factory on-site and has made outdoor clothing for everyone from North Face to The British Horse Society so his finishing was second to none and he had some brilliant ideas – little touches to make my design even better. We built a zip pocket into the back of the hood so the whole suit can be shoved into it when it isn’t being used. I ordered my first 1,000 units and was DELIGHTED with the Scootasoot I’d dreamed up!

JC: Was this your first product, or are you some kind of crazy mum inventor type?
LH: The Scootasoot was the first thing I have had enough conviction to see through to production. There’s a gap in the market and it does exactly what it promises to do!
I have had one other brilliant idea (if I do say so myself!) I’m designing a brand new, unique, wellie boot that is comfortable, practical and – most importantly – easy to get off.  I’ll let you know when I’ve been through the aforementioned rigmarole and they are in production.

JC: Was getting into the world of fashion, function and product development a walk in the park?
LH: Absolutely not! For all the reasons I have already given, there were so many times when I felt like everything was conspiring against me and I almost gave up. Thankfully I have a totally brilliant boyfriend who is incredibly supportive cheering me on when he could see I was getting wild-eyed.
A big glass of wine with friends is fabulous too when you celebrate milestones!
JC: What makes you most proud when it comes to Scootasoot?
LH: I’m proud of how good it looks and how functional it is. Really small children look so, so very cute in the suit with ears and a tail. I also think that because it makes kids more visible in low light – the reflective strip is REALLY powerful – it will keep them safer. Be safe – be seen.
I’m very proud that it is 100% British made.
I’m quite proud that I kept picking myself up when there were problems or people tried to take advantage of my lack of experience.
I’m over the moon that although it cost a lot, I have registered my design so nobody can copy it and my logo is trademarked – it’s all official!

STEPPING OUT

JC: And what’s the future for Scootasoot? You’ve got 3 colours, different attachments etc so what can we expect next?
LH: I’m developing other ears and tails – including dinosaur spikes! – and creating noses and whiskers which will attach to the velcro already supplied on the hood at manufacture. I’ve been asked to make adult suits for people to wear on their electric scooters, over the top of their suit for work.
I’m also developing the new welly boot design and there is one other thing. I will tell you all about that when I make a start!
JC: What’s your dream for the brand? Where do you want it to be in 5 years?
LH: In an ideal world, all nurseries and primary schools will have Scootasoots with the school logo on so no more wet play! All theme parks will have branded Scootasoots so everyone can enjoy the rides even when it’s pouring and there will be no more soggy children crying getting off the water rides as they will be bone dry. Kids will not be affected by our changeable British climate because they can whip out a Scootasoot and have it on in seconds. Days out won’t need to be cancelled because of the weather. Puddle jumping will be recognised at the Olympics…maybe that one is a bit of a stretch!
I’d like to keep finding better ways of doing things to make Mums’ lives easier to be honest. Then I’ll be very happy.
JC: And of course, as I’m sure you’ve been asked before – any chance we will see you on Dragons Den any time soon?
LH: I would love to go on Dragons Den. The problem is the 15-page application form! They want lots of projections and numbers, but maths is absolutely alien to me. Perhaps if anyone wants to help me fill in the form, you’ll see me pitching to the Dragons one day!
If your life is missing a Scootasoot and you’ve got little ones who scoot or cycle and get drenched to bits, then head to Scootasoot and use code MBPE20 to enjoy 20% off you order.

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