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“Make sure you have fantastic images to run a successful Amazon business,” With Kate Bell

I am passionate about independent companies and in particular parent designed products. I often hear parents comment that they have an idea for a product to improve the challenge of parenting, but very few have the confidence to take that concept to market. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a long and difficult road, but it’s […]


I am passionate about independent companies and in particular parent designed products. I often hear parents comment that they have an idea for a product to improve the challenge of parenting, but very few have the confidence to take that concept to market. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a long and difficult road, but it’s very possible and incredibly rewarding. I would love to inspire more individuals take that idea and really do something with it. I would also love to inspire parents to move their buying choice more towards parent owned independent brands. So many large corporations are lacking in the creative to design their own new products and more and more are looking to the little guys to copy new concepts. This will only stop when parents are more conscious of the companies they are supporting.


As a part of my interview series about how to run a very successful Amazon business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate Bell. Kate Bell is a second time Entrepreneur and mother to two daughters (5 and 17). Kate launched her first business in 2004 after being made redundant from an editors position at a local newspaper. Kate was determined to continue working despite being a single parent and so started her own business to allow flexible working hours around raising her first daughter. Kate has followed in her parents footsteps but scaling her own company and in 2015 registered her second company Zip Us In.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

In February 2013 on a cold visit to Weymouth, I discovered I had reached the point in pregnancy where my increasing belly would no longer fit in to the Berghaus jacket that I had brought just weeks before discovering I was pregnant. My choice was to either invest in a maternity coat at around £80+ or try and make it through the final 3 months with what I had. With so many other things to buy for the new arrival, I choose the second option and simply wore my jacket with my belly sticking through the open zip. It was on this day that I mentioned to my husband, that somewhere in the big wide world must be an item that can just expand your own jacket. It seemed like an obvious product, that surely someone must have invented before now. A google search was fruitless and instantly my creative mind started ticking over. A few doodles took place and then before they knew it, myself and my husband Nathan had a new baby and life was crazy!

The safe arrival of our second daughter was a huge relief after suffering 5 devastating miscarriages and I was keen to keep my precious bundle close with the help of a baby carrier. Living in the New Forest, babywearing was a great solution to ensure I could get out walking again with baby close enough to kiss.

Walking in to the village to pop to the post office could often be quite a work up. Getting the baby into a coat, then into the slightly complicated wrap carrier before putting on my own coat was just half the battle. When I got to the nice warm post office, the sleeping baby had to come out for her coat to be removed and I had to undo the carrier to be able to take off my own coat. My mind went back to any old idea about extending my own jacket and now this potential item had even more use.

I turned to my Mum to help me put together a sample which consisted of a panel of waterproof soft-shell that I could zip straight in to my own jacket. This useful item not only become essential to me, but I was often stopped by other parents when using it to ask where it had been purchased. The panel design was submitted for a patent and found just the right person to start producing the Zip Us In panels to order. With 12 year experience in running a marketing agency, it didn’t take me long to create a brand and launch a website and Zip Us In was born!

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about selling on Amazon.com?

Zip Us In launched on to Amazon in 2015, not long after the company was registered. Although we had already secured a great supply chain with a number of retailers including High Street store Boots, we had already seen consumers habits shifting and knew that Amazon would be a great platform to reach our customers directly, all over the world. In just a short space of time our product range has been given the AMAZON CHOICE badge for the European platforms, USA and Canada.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Launching an innovative new product that hadn’t previously existed in the market place, was exciting but came with an enormous challenge that I hadn’t even considered until a few months in to our journey selling on Amazon. I couldn’t understand why our brilliant product wasn’t flying out the door. Sales were very low to start with and the listings just weren’t attracting the kind of traffic I had read was possible. It occurred to me that the attention to detail we had placed on describing our genius invention was completely useless to a customer who had never before heard of a jacket expander panel. Amazon customers were not looking for a ‘panel of fabric to expand your own jacket’. We quickly realised that we had to change the focus on our listings and look at the problem our products were solving, not what our solution actually consisted of. This shift changed the direction of the brand beyond expectation.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Photography has been an on-going issue for Zip Us In. Our initial listings on Amazon platforms obviously featured a main image of the panel itself. Despite its technical qualities our product image ultimately showed a flat piece of black fabric with a zip on either side. Looking back, it really is no wonder that our item just wasn’t selling. Trying to find a way to illustrate our product without using accessories or misleading the customer in anyway has been a huge challenge. I have often shown friends images of my products, before they knew what they were and asked them if they knew what they were looking at. Some of the responses have been interesting!

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are always working on new product concepts! As a brand, we are passionate about reducing the amount of fabric that makes its way to landfill every year. If we can continue to find solutions for Mum’s to be to have clothing that fits them well before pregnancy, during and after and suits their style, we can not only help Mums to maintain their sense of identify during pregnancy but also reduce the need for additional maternity clothes that are often disposed of after such a short time of use.

Ok. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Amazon sellers have a reputation for being great guerilla marketers. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

Social media marketing has been a huge part of Zip Us In’s marketing strategy and finding innovative ways to show our customers the benefits of our products is something that constantly excites me.

We have worked with some fantastic influencers to produce superb content, videos that create instant engagement. As our product range is unusual, it’s been a lot of fun finding new angles for video campaigns that grab attention, and a number of these have gone viral over the last 2 years. Parents are wonderful at sharing products that have made their lives easier or better in some way. With this in mind, we have been incredibly lucky that our brand has grown almost purely on organic marketing alone.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am passionate about independent companies and in particular parent designed products. I often hear parents comment that they have an idea for a product to improve the challenge of parenting, but very few have the confidence to take that concept to market. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a long and difficult road, but it’s very possible and incredibly rewarding. I would love to inspire more individuals take that idea and really do something with it. I would also love to inspire parents to move their buying choice more towards parent owned independent brands. So many large corporations are lacking in the creative to design their own new products and more and more are looking to the little guys to copy new concepts. This will only stop when parents are more conscious of the companies they are supporting.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Always say yes and work out the details later”. Every opportunity that has been granted to me, I have grabbed with both hands. Even if, at the time, I had no idea what to do with that opportunity or whether I had the skill set to take advantage of it. This has served me well in my career and has pushed me to continue educating myself and learn new skills constantly.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Holly Branson. I really admire her work ethic and her drive to push herself out of her comfort zone. I adore seeing Entrepreneurial women balance motherhood with a successful career.

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