Meet the Parents Behind The Tiny Company
When their baby was born nine weeks early, Jess Rout and Rhys Briggs were inspired to create a premature clothing range that was affordable, suitable for babies requiring medical intervention, and easily available
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 26, and from Hull and currently on maternity leave from my full-time job within the NHS. I’ve worked in the healthcare sector since I was 17 and love helping others. I live with my fiancé Rhys who works full-time in the railway sector, our baby Bella, and our doggy Mr Blue (who lives the life of luxury). I’m a first-time mum, Bella is now nine months old, so I’m just learning day by day.
When did you set up The Tiny Company and why?
We launched in May 2023, but the idea of the company was thought of back in November 2022 when we welcomed our little Bella into the world at 31 weeks gestation. She was nine weeks early and weighed 2lb 15oz, so as you can imagine she was tiny, no bigger than a packet of baby wipes! Bella spent a month in Hull Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It was the most difficult time of our lives, full of emotion and a complete rollercoaster, but she made it!
One night whilst I was sat with Bella before leaving her in the care of the amazing nurses, I realised that there was a gap in the market for premature baby clothing and I wanted to create our own. We had struggled to find clothing small enough at an affordable price or that would be suitable for any medical intervention that may have been needed, and spoke with other parents on the unit about their same frustrations – and here we are.
What makes your clothing different to other brands?
First is our story; our reason behind the company. We have connected with many families that have experienced time in NICU as well, and we have a passion to help and support others. We have taken part in events to help fundraise money for NICU, and we want to continue to build our community. Our clothing for premature babies has been sourced and designed in the UK, we have had an NICU review our premature range and we are constantly working in the background to improve and grow. Our premature range (tees and gowns) are suitable for medical intervention and range from 1lb up to 8lbs. We gift wrap all our products, and share videos of us packing orders so that our customers are aware of the care we take and can build trust in knowing the products have been quality checked before being packaged by ourselves.
Tell us more about the octopus collection.
We also sell special crochet octopus toys, inspired by our own personal experience spending time within a NICU. The idea originated at Aarhaus University Hospital in Denmark, where it was found that so-called ‘octopus power’ can help improve a preemie’s breathing and regulate their heartbeat and blood oxygen levels. Why an octopus? Research has proven that the tentacles of the octopus remind babies of the umbilical cord and being in the womb. This makes them feel safe.
Babies that have to spend time in NICU are also often attached to medical equipment, leads, wires, or tubes. These occasionally end up being pulled out by the tiny babies as they love to wrap their little fingers around something, so giving babies the option to hold a soft octopus tentacle can help prevent this from happening, especially when human touch is not always possible. Each of our octopuses is named with their individual story, and they would also be an ideal gift for newborns and babies up to six months.
You also sell items to be donated – why is that?
When you’ve been in a situation like NICU, every little thing really does make the difference. Our nurses would write a message for ‘mum and dad’ in Bella’s diary so that we could read it when we returned in the morning. Gifts or donations, even just a chat with the nurses, could positively impact your day, even if it was just for a minute. We wanted to give back, we wanted to help and be that ‘minute’ that positively impacted some family’s day. So we set up our donation page, and made our premature collection available to purchase and donate to our local NICU. We give people the chance to leave a positive message or note that we print and put into the box with donated items. We deliver them directly to our local NICU and they then give them out to parents. We don’t know which families they go to, but we have had some families reach out to thank us!
What are your hopes for the future of the business?
We decided we wanted to expand and include neutral, unisex clothing for older babies (while of course not forgetting our tiny babies) and we now have clothing for babies all the way up to 18 months. We would love to branch out into bigger sizes eventually, but we also have a lot of plans for our premature collection which we will be keeping a surprise for now! It would be incredible to have an actual store down the line, or feature in other stores. We would like to eventually introduce a nursery section and become the one-stop-shop for all your baby’s needs.
What do you love most about being based in Yorkshire?
Apart from the famous chip spice from Hull, Yorkshire puddings, and Yorkshire tea…. it’s home. It’s what we know. The mixture of countryside, beaches, towns and cities and the good old Yorkshire accent. You can’t beat it!