Meet the Woman Behind Alnwick's Squelch Wellies for Kids
Boring welly boots are being kicked into touch by Alnwick-based Squelch Wellies
Squelch’s customisable range of wellies are transparent and don't have a lining, which means they dry in seconds after any overzealous puddle jumping. The thick, cotton rich welly socks that go with them come in a multitude of fun colours and designs.
Entrepreneur and mother-of-two Amanda Wooldridge came up with the idea for Squelch after realising just how many pairs of boots her children would need to keep up with the Northumbrian weather. ‘I moved out of the UK when I was 21 and went to Barbados for six years,’ says Amanda. ‘I then left the Caribbean to go to Greece and I spent nine years in Athens where I had my two beautiful children. We moved back to the UK when my kids were school age and having not brought wellies for my kiddos in Athens because they spent their lives in Crocs, when I got back to Northumberland it was a shock.
‘I needed to buy four pairs of wellies (they needed some for school and some for home) and I realised I’d have to repeat function and do that again the following year once they grew. I thought there must be a better option and I decided to set up Squelch. With transparent wellies I just had to buy one pair for school and home with different socks, not to mention my little boys' could be passed down to my little girl when he grew out of them as we’d just have to change socks to make them suitable for her.’
Amanda designed a pair of see-through wellies, which can be customised by wearing different socks. The socks come in a number of different designs, from colourful spots and stripes to those with animals on them, such as octopuses and toucans. Other socks have been made to look like ballerina shoes or skeleton feet.
‘For me Squelch is a functional welly boot,’ says Amanda. ‘They’re a really flexible boot, easy to get on. The socks are really good quality. Obviously the boot isn’t insulated so we needed to figure out a way to make sure the kids’ feet were still warm and the best way we could do that was to actually to manufacture socks that were proper thermal ski socks. They also have great tread on the sole.
‘As well as being supremely practical, they’re just a lot of fun. Squelch gives kids a way to express themselves. My little girl used to wear odd socks and she’d have a ballerina sock on one foot and a skull on the other. My little boy loves how soft the socks are but he also loves having more choice. I think that’s fantastic because our kids live in a world where choice is limited and this is a simple way to express themselves.’
With tractor wellies one day and rainbow wellies the next, the options are endless. They can also be themed with seasonal options for Halloween or for Christmas. This, combined with the fact they can be passed on to siblings, means Squelch wellies have a longer life than usual wellington boots and are therefore also more sustainable.
‘The environmental aspect of the boot was really important,’ Amanda explains. ‘My little girl would not wear my little boys’ wellies for instance but just by switching the socks she felt like she had her own pair. This means the welly has a longer life. You’re not necessarily just getting one season out of them per family, particularly if you have siblings to pass them down to, they can be worn multiple different ways, over multiple seasons.
‘We also don’t deliver them in a shoe box which is really important to us as a brand. Instead they arrive in a waterproof rucksack. This again means it has a double functionality because not only are they delivered in this, kids can then carry them around. If they’re going somewhere they need wellies but don’t want to wear them to get there, for example a forest walk, they can carry them themselves. It’s also just an extra rucksack if they want to put their swimming stuff in or their computer in as it’s waterproof. So I loved the longevity of the welly, I thought that was a pretty cool part of the concept and the sustainable packaging was also really important to me.’
Moving forward Amanda is focusing on expanding Squelch’s range of socks. 'We’ve got some exciting plans to develop the range. Unfortunately it seems to be the supermarket wellies monopolising the market at the moment – four huge brands have gone under this year. But we just have to see how our season plays out. We definitely have some exciting sock plans for the future though, that’s for sure.’
Squelch wellies are a practical-yet-fun choice, and they’re particularly good for gifts. ‘I’m all about a functional gift,’ explains Amanda. ‘My kids are now nine and 10 and there was a time when people had bought them gifts or I bought them gifts just for the sake of buying something. Whereas I now like to think of the functionality of a gift, and will they get a lot of use or play out of the gift? With wellies it is a functional gift meaning they’ll be used and because kids can switch them up the usage lasts even longer. Plus, it encourages kids to get outside and splash around in their wellies!’