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Dragons' Den Rejects Take Baby Teething Market By Storm

04/11/2014 14:27 | Updated 20 May 2015

Dragons' Den rejects Amy Livingstone and Julie Wilson take baby product market by storm with Cheeky Chompers

Two mums whose teething products were rejected by Dragons' Den have surpassed their targets and sold more than 100,000 Neckerchews in just 18 months.

Amy Livingstone and Julie Wilson appeared on BBC2's Dragons' Den when their company Cheeky Chompers had been trading for just 11 weeks.

"Poor Amy was 32 weeks pregnant when we went to Manchester for the filming," Julie told Parentdish.

"You only see about 12 minutes on the programme but we stood in front of the Dragons for half an hour of grueling grilling... and then they told us we were delusional."

"I'd say Peter Jones gave us the hardest time on the show," adds Amy. "But I think that was because he felt we needed the challenge.

"After filming, Duncan Bannatyne joked on social media that he'd eat a hundred of our bibs if we made the targets that we set on the show.

"So once we smashed our goals we challenged him to do as he promised, but he said that he had meant if we reached our three year targets."

Julie and Amy were told by the Dragons that although their Neckerchew - a combination of a chewy teether and a dribble bib, which can be attached to a child's clothing - was a strong product, their targets were unrealistic.

Even Deborah Meaden, who Julie and Amy say was their strongest supporter, couldn't be persuaded to invest, as she wasn't convinced by their business plan.

But the mums have no regrets about appearing on the show and in fact they credit it with giving them a boost in sales when it aired in March 2014.

"It was a useful experience as we had to really think through how our business was going to grow while preparing for the show," says Julie.

"And because when the show aired everyone saw the Dragon's saying how much they loved our product, it was a great endorsement for us."

Julie has a three-year-old daughter called Grace, and Amy has a three-year-old son, Dawson, and 15-month-old daughter, Darcey.

They invented the Neckerchew after meeting at an antenatal class while pregnant with their first babies.

"We had no absolutely no experience in retail or in baby products, or in babies actually because we'd both only just had our first ones," says Julie.

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It was one of those ideas that occur over a coffee and is then developed over a few glasses of wine. Both of our children were very very dribbly babies, and when they were teething they chewed on everything.

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Amy adds: "Our babies both kept dropping any teether we gave them - some of which cost quite a bit of money.

"They would all get thrown out of the pram and lost or dropped on the floor and then you face the dilemma of when your baby's crying for their teether, do you give it back to them when it's no longer sterilised?"

Having identified a common problem faced by mums and dads, Amy and Julie set about inventing a solution.

"We couldn't believe you couldn't buy something that combined a teether with a dribble bib and which attached to your child so they couldn't drop it," says Julie.

"So we started to look for the right material that was soft and absorbent. Then we worked on the teether, we wanted it to be soft and pliable with a textured design so that it would actually massage the baby's gums.

"We spent a lot of time making sure it was a lovely quality product that we'd be happy to give to our own babies."

The Neckerchew was quickly snapped up by shops and is now sold in more than 100 retailers across the UK, including John Lewis, Jojo Maman Bébé and Mothercare. It is also distributed in 26 countries.

Following the Neckerchews astounding success, Cheeky Chompers has just launched their second product - an attachable teething comforter with the feel of a favourite teddy called the Comfortchew - which was of course also inspired by Grace, Dawson and Darcey.

"My little girl is very attached to her comforter," says Julie. "But she was always dropping it and I can't count the amount of hours we spent pounding the streets looking for lost comforters. So I thought lets find a way to attach the comforter to a buggy or a baby."

"Our wee ones are hilarious," Julie adds. "We've tried and tested so many ideas on them and done so many photoshoots that now they'll chew when you ask them to!"

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