A few months ago, I met Emma to discuss the importance of road safety in Rutland and the launch of her new online high-visibility and reflective wear brand, Glow Chimp. Emma has a background in sales and is a single mum of 11-year-old Ruby - also the inspiration behind the brand - and the pair live together in Oakham.
In Rutland, we’re surrounded by many female creatives, business owners and entrepreneurs who I really admire and Emma is one of the most dedicated and hard-working people I’ve ever met. She has many fantastic attributes including family, lifestyle and of course, business.
Introducing, Glow Chimp!
A collection of high-vis and reflective wear with a twist - go to www.glowchimp.com
Glow Chimp is an authorised dealer for WOWOW Reflective Wear. WOWOW is a Belgian brand specialising in hi-vis and reflective wear.
Emma is developing a collection of Glow Chimp branded products and has also created a bespoke service for schools, nurseries, running clubs, cycling clubs, business’ etc, offering the opportunity to have their own logo printed onto any of the products such as high-vis jackets and bag covers.
It’s a fashionable alternative to the ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’ high-vis products we’ve seen before and children actually want to wear it!
At our first meeting, Emma and I chatted about branding, design and style and found out we have lots in common too. When Emma started telling me all about the inspiration behind her new business, Glow Chimp (#Glowch), I was in awe of the whole aspect of her brand.
This approach to road safety is what we needed to see years ago and the unique, stylish, fun and functional products have safety at the forefront, with an appreciation for all the ages who will be wearing it.
I asked Emma about how Glow Chimp was born, being a single mum, running a business and the future of the brand…
Take a read!
1. Thanks for meeting with me to discuss the launch of your new brand and to chat more about the importance of high-vis and reflective wear. As a local businesswoman and single mother, what was the inspiration for Glow Chimp and why high-vis and reflective apparel?
Emma: Thank you also, Charlie. The idea for Glow Chimp all started when I was walking Ruby home from nursery and talking to one of the Dads.
We were watching the kids running and having fun and I called to them to make sure they stayed away from the edge of the pavement.
The Dad then told me a story about a brother and sister who were injured on a zebra crossing as the car driver had not seen them! I couldn't get this out of my head - it concerned me.
I thought about what I could do to make Ruby (and other kids) as safe as can be and did a little research on the internet.
What I discovered was this:
Wearing hi-vis and reflective clothing can give a driver more time to see a pedestrian = more time to break = reduced likelihood of injury = saved lives...
My immediate reaction was to purchase some hi-vis gear for Ruby. But then came the battle... "I am NOT wearing THAT" - said Ruby referencing the hi-vis jacket and, to be fair to Ruby, it was a pretty unflattering addition to her wardrobe - poor-fitting and low quality.
So I could see her point.
I am sure that this is the kind of battle that many parents face with strong-minded kids and so I decided that there must be a brand out there which had a little more to offer in terms of style, colour and is just a bit funkier!
So I began a search of the market and discovered WOWOW Reflective Wear. The WOWOW range includes hi-vis and reflective clothing for kids and adults with a tailored fit, funky colours, high-quality fabrics and quirky designs. This means that not only kids but adults also want to wear it!
At the time I was looking for a new career opportunity and so developing this idea felt like the perfect fit! However, family circumstances meant that the plans had to go on hold. Yet here we are now! We agreed on plans with WOWOW to become an approved UK retailer and also welcome trade enquiries for any retailers who wish to stock the range.
2. It’s been six months in the making but Glow Chimp is now LIVE with a new website which you’ve created yourself. Please tell us more about how the brand idea for Glow Chimp was born…
Emma: When I was at the planning stage, I decided that one of the key aims of our business is to CHANGE the way kids and adults view hi-vis and reflective gear so that they actually want to wear it! Another word for change is to EVOLVE. I then looked at images relating to evolution and the evolution of man stemming from Charles Darwin’s ‘Theory of Evolution’, which lead me to the production of our strap-line - “the evolution of brighter".
Using a chimp as part of the logo seemed a natural choice. I love the way that chimps behave - there are lots of images showing chimp behaviour on the net - but one stuck in my mind -the mother protecting her infant - which was where our original business idea came from!
The glow part is because our products make wearers glow, and so Glow Chimp was born!
It’s also true to say that the Dad I was talking to that day at nursery had family links to Charles Darwin, which kind of made me think that the chimp theme was meant to be!
3. Thinking more about road safety at this time of year is extremely important, especially with the new school year upon us. Please tell us more about the importance of road safety and being seen…
Emma: OK, sad fact alert: According to the road safety charity, Brake, on average 1,774 people are killed on UK roads each year. In 2018 this included 454 pedestrians and 99 cyclists.
One of the main causes that drivers cite in accidents involving pedestrians is that they did not see the injured party in time to brake. This includes not only dark conditions - but also broad daylight. A possible solution to drivers not seeing pedestrians and cyclists in time is to increase the visibility of these road users by wearing hi-vis and reflective gear. The quicker the driver sees the road user, the more time they have to brake = reduced likelihood of injury = saved lives!
4. Each product is extremely unique and they take the standard high-vis jackets to a whole new level. As well as being the first fashionable high-vis and reflective wear I’ve ever seen, they’re fun and functional but there are also many innovative elements to each item, please tell us more…
Emma: There are two key facts to bear in mind when purchasing hi-vis and reflective wear:
1) HI-VIS is NOT the same as REFLECTIVE. HI-VIS works best in the daylight, REFLECTIVE at night in darker conditions when light is shined upon it. The best solution is to use a combination of both hi-vis and reflective.
2) Many products on the market may look like hi-vis / reflective, yet don't meet EU safety standards. This means that the wearer is not as well protected as these products don't offer the same reflective performance as higher quality products that meet the regulations.
For example, kids and jackets that we sell (WOWOW) all meet EU Standard EN1150. Look out for the CE label.
5. A lot of the products can be used with one another, making Glow Chimp a one-stop-shop for road safety. If our readers are looking for the perfect ‘Back to School’ reflective wear, which do you recommend and why?
Emma: It's the perfect time to stock up on road safety essentials with the 'Back to School' season in full swing! Not many people are aware that in certain European countries it's the law that each passenger has access to a hi-vis jacket in the car - so if the maximum car capacity is five, then there must be five jackets available in that car.
The best way to improve visibility on the road is with our High-Vis Jackets (from £11.50) as the surface area of a jacket covers the top half of the body, and all of our jackets include both hi-vis and reflective elements to improve the visibility of wearers in day and night.
Another product I think that is a great 'Back to School' essential is our Multi-light and Magnet-lights (£7.50), which are both wearable LED lights that can be attached to the WOWOW jackets, bag covers, helmet covers yet also trainers, prams and wheelchairs. Two of my personal favourite products include our range of bag covers (£19.95), which are reflective and hi-vis and some of which are waterproof. They provide a great way to increase visibility and customise your existing bag.
My other top favourite is for the cyclist our there, allowing you to be reflective on the go with the 3M Scotchlite Spoke Reflectors (£19.00 - Pack of 72) that can be simply clipped onto the spokes on your bike very simply - no tools required! The reflectors work by reflecting light from the headlights to the driver and is enhanced by the fact that the spokes are moving to attract more visible attention.
6. As a single mum and an entrepreneur, everything with the launch of your business has been super hands-on and approached with clear dedication. Your daughter Ruby (11) has been also been involved, helping bring Glow Chimp to life. How do you balance work and family life?
Emma: Good question, (if I could sell the art of balancing work and family successfully, I think I would be surfing in Hawaii right now)!
Seriously though, one essential part of the plan was to inspire Ruby to become involved. Her brutal honesty has been super helpful with branding, her friends have been involved in market research and she has even done a little modelling!
7. Since I met you Emma, I've been inspired by your outlook on many things and we've spent lots of time chatting about many things including personal and career hurdles. So my next question is this...
What do you see as your biggest challenge?
Emma: I think that the current perception of safety clothing is a big challenge - people see it as boring/geeky. When I have discussed my idea with people, some mentioned that it’s not an area for growth - until they see the fabulous products! I don’t know any parent who would not want their child to be as safe as possible - and vice versa. And so, the biggest challenge that I see is getting this message across. The plan is to use social media to show the range in use and how it can make us safer.
It’s super early days for Glow Chimp, yet I have a huge passion to change the way we use hi-vis and reflective clothing in the UK to make us all safer. If one life can be saved by the work that we do, then that’s my mission accomplished! It’s also about setting parents minds at rest (including my own), that we are doing everything we can to keep our kids as safe as they can be.
8. What does it mean to you both to have a business in the local area and what do you love about living and working in Rutland?
Emma: I love it! I spent a lot of years commuting all over England with my work, mainly in business development and sales roles where I spent so many hours in the car which is enough to break anyone’s soul and also gives you a lot of time to think about what is important.
Building a business that makes a difference to people’s lives was always my ultimate ambition. I still travel with the business which I love, yet not every day so it’s a better balance.
I am also working on a project to improve safety on the school and nursery run and so seeing the results of this work in local schools, playgroups and nurseries will be fantastic.
I’m a big fan of #ShopLocal and so part of my business strategy is to shop locally where I can! It’s a challenging time for all retailers, especially the independents, and supporting each other has never been so important!
Coming home to Rutland and largely being Rutland-based is a lovely thing. I think it also makes Ruby and Pixie (our tiny Jack Chi cross) happy that I am around more…
9. Finally, thank you so much for taking the time out to share Glow Chimp with the readers of the blog. What can we expect to see from the future of Glow Chimp (#Glowch) and is there anything you can share with us about future releases, plans for the brand etc…
I am currently working on a plan to develop a fundraising package for schools and charities. Further details of these plans will be posted on our website and social media pages.
Development of our own range of Glow Chimp branded products is also currently taking place to complement the WOWOW range. We will keep you updated on this via our website and social media channels… Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
T: 07939 841220 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
#ShopLocal Quiz: Love to Shop Independent
I asked Emma a few things about where she likes to #ShopLocal. Take a read!
Favourite place for brunch/lunch?
No.1 spot for an evening meal?
Where do you love to shop?
Anywhere independent and dog-friendly.
I love Cavells on Mill Street in Oakham for jeans and boots.
Tails & Whiskers on Oakham High Street for their brilliant customer service.
In Uppingham, Goodwin & Belle and all of the antique shops.
Favourite coffee house.
Scandimania in Uppingham.
Perfect place for a day out with Ruby?
We love the countryside in Rutland and do lots of dog walks and a little cycling (although not enough)!
Local brand or business you admire?
Favourite fact about the area?
All of the hills in Oakham Castle and Cutts Close exist because there are walls underneath which are ruins of ancient buildings which were connected to the castle!
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