Barefoot Birth Pools
Barefoot Birth Pools provide a national door to door birthing pool delivery service. The business is the brainchild of Shona Kitchener, a former doula, (someone who helps and supports expectant mothers) when she became aware that access to birthing pools was scant across the UK.
As well as having first-hand experience of using birthing pools to assist in childbirth, Shona conducted extensive market research to establish if there was demand for a birth pool delivery service. Armed with a comprehensive business plan Shona approached her bank for a business loan but was declined because she did not have sufficient trading history. Undeterred Shona found out about Foundation East’s business loan products whilst conducting an internet search. Bob Shimmon, Foundation East’s Business loans Manager for Cambridgeshire considered Shona business to be viable and put her forward for a loan to purchase a stock of inflatable birthing pools.
The business grew broadly in line with the plan for 2 years. Unfortunately an incident involving an unrelated birthing pool supply company, meant that new legislation concerning the use of birthing pools came into force, rendering Shona’s stock of pools unusable and an order book she was unable to fulfil.
Foundation East pride themselves on being supportive to their borrowing customers, not only when things are going well but particularly when they are not. This includes offering business advice and patience with loan repayments. During this difficult time Shona showed temerity and determination to overcome issues and used the opportunity to explore deeper into the drawbacks of her business model, acknowledging that the product she was offering had a fairly limited market (the pools were large and filling them with water took time) thereby limiting their use. As a result Shona decided to sell the old pools for parts and purchase some new ones, which met the new legislative requirements and attracted a larger market of expectant parents.
The new pools are easy to erect and take less time to fill compared to the original stock, and can be inflated and filled within a day making them ideal for parents wishing to have a home birth. Since the launch of Barefoot Pools, Shona has helped over 200 families to have their babies in the comfort and safety of their own homes and provides water-birth study days for midwives and birth support workers in conjunction with various health care trusts. In addition Shona has published a book aimed at explaining the giving birth process to children, in collaboration with renowned author Kirsten Millinson. Earlier this year, Shona was a finalist in the Fenland Enterprise Awards for New Business of the Year.
Barefoot Pools have recently re-located to commercial premises in Whittlesey, Peterborough which include pool cleaning facilities, storage office space and room to expand. The enterprise now employs 2 full time staff.