Surprises aplenty as new shop ‘explodes’
Nicky Moffat | 1st Dec 2015 4:00 PM
WHEN Kate O’Shea was pregnant with her first child, her husband told friends they were breeding “ninja babies”.
Kate soon made tie-dyed orange t-shirts for her baby, proclaiming “only cool ninjas wear orange” and “bred for my ninja skills”, which friends and strangers thought were brilliant, she said.
Six years and three children later, Kate’s online shop for chewable jewellery and toys assumed the title Ninja Babies and has been greeted with the same enthusiasm and mirth.
Its wacky wares have been snapped up by a surprisingly diverse crowd of “chewers”, that include babies and teething children, nail biters and pencil chewers, Kate said.
“The biggest market, (which) was unexpected to me, was the special needs one,” Kate said.
Parents of kids with special needs could shop by “level of chewing” (aggressive, moderate or light).
The Ninja Babies website, which launched a year ago, started with a simple idea.
“(I thought), ‘I’m going to be able to provide something funky for mums to wear and bubs to chew on,” she said. “Since then it’s just sort of exploded.”
NINJA HELPERS: Kate O’Shea’s children Ezekiel, 3, and Zeppelin, 4, with jewellery Kate sells online. Patrick Woods
From pirate ship Ninja Chews to hilarious hippos, snazzy snails, chewable bangles and pencil toppers, chewers of any age or inclination can find a safe, food-grade silicon rubber product to munch on.
Surprisingly, Kate said, most customers were school-aged chewers, and most of them were boys.
“I love listening to people and seeing what they choose and why,” she said. “I say, ‘just let your son have a look’, and let them choose.
“Some boys have chosen the pink dolphins or orange animals.”
Ninja Babies bangles have also been a hit with office workers, because they don’t “clang” on the desk, Kate said.
The quirky, popular online shop was going places, said Business Enterprise Centre Sunshine Coast manager Rod Richards.
Mr Richards was providing advice and training for Kate, whose business was based at her Kiels Mountain home, thanks to a federal government Home-based Businesses Grant Kate won this year.
He said he was impressed with the progress Ninja Babies had already made in developing unique products and connecting with potential buyers.
“Its got a lot of potential to be a global business,” he said. “She’s got sales, she’s got traction (and) she’s got people who are chasing her to become distributors.
“It’s in that early phase so we’re developing the systems and processes so she can become a global supplier and online retail business.”
He said BEC had been able to help develop her business model and management skills, and had assisted Kate with “basics” such as pricing, packaging, marketing and strategies for “taking the business to a greater level.”
Home-based startup businesses can apply for funding at http://www.business.qld.gov.au