A fantastic show for families…
The Sussex Baby & Toddler show is back, bigger and better, and full of local businesses and services from across the South East. A must for any Mummy & Daddy to be and families with young children. You will find 67 businesses and services all under one roof, showcasing products and services available to expectant parents and families across Sussex. And to make the show extra special, the exhibitors are planning special one off show day offers just for you.
Sarah O’Connell is a local mum of twin girls and came up with the concept of the show after finding herself with 2 small babies and no idea of what services or businesses were in her local area that offered support or products for babies & families. Here she tells us more about how the show came about and what her ambitions are for the future of the show.
So, tell us a little about the lady behind Babytodd
I am married to Geoff and Mum to our twin girls and live in Sussex. My other hat is me, Sarah. Slightly scatty, fun loving and a passionate person who loves a giggle. I am a go getter, someone who loves to make things happen. Sussex born with a love for everything ‘friends & family.’ I love the outdoors, especially hilltop walks, although I don’t do it enough. Home is definitely where my heart is. I love a good veggie menu and never need to think twice about a G&T or a good cold beer. When I am not creating ‘babytodd’ events and social taxi for our girls, who are growing fast, I love sharing quality time with friends and catching up. It is a rare but valued treat.
Tell us a little bit more about the show…
Babytodd is an engaging and friendly hub, connecting families and suppliers, in and around Sussex. The Sussex Baby Show is babytodd’s flagship. The show is a huge passion of mine, although it is a tremendous amount of work, it brings me such joy. Helping families learn about what is available to them and creating an event for them to push the pause button to enjoy an occasion together. In my work I have the pleasure of working alongside and helping to showcase a simply awesome and passionate collaboration of suppliers and service providers. I love it!
What was your inspiration for setting up the show?
Purely and simply, our own parenting journey! Looking back I really wasn’t aware of just what was available to us. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? For example, I had never heard of hypno-birthing. So, I didn’t know to google it. I am a ‘people person’ . Online is convenient when you know what you are buying but being a first time Mum, I wanted to see the product or meet the person before I committed. This all contributed to creating the first show back in February 2017. I am a do’er so once I had cemented the idea, I had to grasp the bull by the horns and go for it.
Why should local families & expectant parents come along?
The Sussex Baby Show is different. A community of bump, baby & toddler specialist who are perfect for the Sussex and surrounding audience. No need to scroll the net, instead they can meet the people behind the business. Ask questions, see, touch, feel what they are buying and know the show is created with their experience in mind. The show is a relaxed and friendly occasion, no strong sale pitches. A chance to Explore, Shop & Enjoy together. With carefully selected facilities to create a warm and friendly environment for all to indulge in the experience and add to their family memories. Lets be honest, time does fly and little ones become big ones WAY too quickly so occasions are a lovely way to make memories.
What has been your proudest show moment to date?
Great question, thank you . It is rare that I allow myself the opportunity to celebrate my achievements. Every show I have delivered has given me a goose bump moment. I spent so much time working on and in the events. Working solo can be daunting at times but on show day it is overwhelming to see all the hard work, and time away from the family, unfold. I often liken it to a wedding, all the planning and then pooof, it’s done.
The stand out moment for me was on my third event, when my husband called for me on the radio, from the car park where he was working and 1 hour into the show, he said ‘You have created a monster’. Initially my stomach flipped, oh no….what has happened? Then he asked me to go upstairs and look out the window at the car park and drive way to the venue. There were so many cars and people! It was actually happening!
Organising events means, on show day, you rarely come up for air to take it all in. That radio call gave me the reminder I needed to breath and appreciate just what was happening. All the late nights instantly disappeared.
Geoff has always been my no 1 supporter but to hear he that he was so overwhelmed gave me goosies on goosies. I will never forget that. I am getting them again, just by writing this. It was a special moment which was enriched by the smiles on all the families and exhibitors faces, throughout the day.
What were the highlights of the last show in March 2019?
Feedback is a big part of the plan to ensure the event offers what the families and exhibitors expect. We had great comments shared by those that exhibited and visited. I will put my hands up, we aren’t always perfect but who is? That said… with every show I invest time to ensure I gather true feedback from the visitors and exhibitors to help steer the future delivery. It means so much to me, that I invest time to evolve and improve each and every time. Obviously, you can’t please everyone and I find that bit tough sometimes, but the show continues to receive wonderful feedback which is a very rewarding part of the stepping stone journey to deliver the best showcase possible and retain the unique babytodd vibe.
What have you improved since the last show?
Every show has grown and offered something different as we learn and meet new milestones. Our October 19 show sees us return to the South of England Showground. This time we are in a different building, meaning we are all on one level and under one roof with the same great features….free parking, family friendly facilities, refreshment hub and the opportunity for families to meet even more wonderful, helpful, useful and interesting exhibitors and products. PLUS, 2 DAYS! So more families can join us, when visiting on Saturday they can return for free on Sunday. Even more time to enjoy the blend of fun and information with shopping and cake mixed in 😊
As a mum of 2 gorgeous girls, you’ve experienced the highs & lows of parenting. What advice or recommendations would you give to new parents?
My girls started secondary school in September, GULP! I still can’t believe where the time has gone, really! I was recently reminded by one of my daughters ‘hold my hand now Mummy, it won’t be cool in a few weeks time’. Wow, that was a moment in time I won’t forget for a while. Pure and simple, make time and take it. It is easy to say and not so easy to do, but be kind to yourself. I regularly remind myself, ‘take control of what you can and need too, but let go of what you can’t and don’t. Enjoy the ride when you can, without pressure or judgement of yourself.
If you could re-live your pregnancy and 1styear with your girls, with the products & services you see on offer in Sussex today, which product or service could you see yourself using?
Another great question. WOW, there are so many. Your suggestions are up there. I would 100% invest in antenatal classes to be more aware and in touch with my body and babies, most probably hypnobirthing. 100% sling consultancy, I had no idea that you could carry two babies at the same time in slings. I didn’t ever consider using a single buggy and carrying the other baby either. So simple to think now and wish I could rewind.
Regrettably, I only contacted one baby massage class who said I could bring one baby for a class and then alternate with each class. This wasn’t possible and not something I wanted to I simply didn’t do it. Most if not all class providers are surprised by my experience so I wish I had persisted with my enquiries.
Lastly, photography. I have lots of baby photos at home and some with myself and Geoff. I really, really wish I had more of me with my bump. I only have a few as we were so busy with building work at home and I wasn’t so into selfies, so rarely took any. I so wish I had more to share with my girls and enjoy reminising.
So, what’s next for Babytodd?
The next show is on the 12thand 13thOctober. All my time is invested in organising the event, building a great community of exhibitors and spreading the word to reach as many families as possible. I am looking forward to see it all unfold and blossom on the show days.
The babytodd Hub Bub is a network and community of local suppliers and services. It is a huge passion of mine and get so much delight from watching the businesses support one another and collaborate. We offer various networking and co-working events which means I get to work alongside some truly inspiring people.
Our socials, website and newsletters will continue to offer babytodd exclusive offers, competitions, insightful guest blogs and information for families. Then, back in the spring of 2020 for show number 6. Onwards and updards 😊
I will be exhibiting at the show this year and would love to meet some of my followers, so please do pop along and say hi and maybe take advantage of my newborn photoshoot show offer! Some of my favourite local and national businesses will be there too, such as Silverbird Keepsakes who make beautiful hand & foot print jewellery & castings, Cai Baby Massage, Sass & Me who have the most amazing baby shoes. Mothercare will also be there displaying 3 different brands of prams for you to try before you buy!
There are a variety of exhibitors attending offer products from bespoke and adorable baby shoes and clothes, toys and books, to pregnancy and ante natal services and local see ices available to you for baby’s first year.
There are 3 photographers exhibiting this time. Each of us have our own individual & unique style. If you are looking to book a photographer for a pregnancy, baby or family photoshoot, do take some time to consider their style and find one that fits with your own taste, that way you will have images which fit perfectly into your home. One of my favourite styles that I’m planning to add to my portfolio in the future is light & bright. Check out this fab blog by Lauren from New Fawn Photography in Newport. Lauren is a fantastic baby photographer whom I’ve been following for a while now and I really love the simplicity of her images. Her latest blog showcases this style perfectly
See you at the Sussex Baby Show!