Sophie has followed her passion of all things Penguin to create a great business called The Penguin Patrol. Sophie talked to me about her inspiration (a little guy called Pici!), what ambitions she has for the business, and also what sort of Penguin products are available on the site to buy right now.
Thanks for your time today Sophie! Tell us all about The Penguin Patrol.
The Penguin Patrol is an online store specialising in penguin products! We have a large range of cuddly penguin soft toys, plus jewellery, stationery, prints and more. We also stock products from Independent UK makers and creators so we’ve got some very unique items!
Where did the idea come from?
I had started an Instagram account for a cuddly penguin in my collection called Pici – and the business idea actually started from an offhand comment from a work colleague, who after showing my Instagram account to them asked ‘do you sell penguins through this too?’
This got me thinking – why wasn’t I selling penguins? I had always loved penguins, and I had a background in digital marketing so I would have the right skills to set up a website and promote my business and I just went for it!
How did you go about setting up the business and sourcing products?
Firstly, I started researching suppliers as products were the most important thing – If I couldn’t source anything, I wouldn’t be able to set anything up! I actually went through my own penguin toy collection, checking the labels and finding their websites. I then put a few retailer account requests in, and after a few were accepted I got started on my website.
I then purchased the domain name, and started setting up my site – I received product images from suppliers, wrote product descriptions, decided on the branding and got a logo designed. After a few months of solid work, I was ready to launch in November 2015, just in time for Christmas!
It must be fun to look for so many penguin related items! What is your favourite product currently available on your website?
It’s the best bit – every time we get new lines or products in it’s like being a kid in a candy store! My favourite cuddly toy Humboldt Penguin from Keel Toys – it’s super soft and really captures the essence of the Humboldt!
I also recently put together some curated penguin baby boxes – they are available in blue and pink and are just adorable – they include a UK designed babygrow, muslins, a soother and an adorable penguin toy, you can find it here, you won’t find these anywhere else!
You started with Pici the Penguin’s adventures on Instagram – who gave you Pici, and what gave you the idea to take him (or her!) on your travels, and post about it?
My partner bought me Pici Penguin as a gift from The Deep in Hull – I had to narrow down to only two penguins after walking around with a whole armful – they have a lot of choice! I saw Pici sat on top of a display, and he was the only one there. He was much bigger than the other penguins, and was extremely soft – it was love at first sight!
I had previously followed some other plushie Instagram accounts and after taking a few pictures of Pici around The Deep, I thought it would be great to join in the fun! After having a think about what to name the account, and a few name ideas were taken, @penguinpatrol was settled on. It was just really fun to do, I loved thinking about funny poses and cool places to go to and take pictures – yeah, very fun!
What are your dreams for The Penguin Patrol?
I really would love to have my own line of soft toy penguins, it would be great to have more Pici Penguins going on fun adventures – and even possibly a whole range of items, like books chronicling the adventures of Pici Penguin and his friends 🙂
I also would really like to expand on independent products from UK makers – I think it’s really important to support the creative industries in the UK. I would love to do some exclusive collaborations with illustrators and makers.
Have you ever been up close with a Penguin?
I have been extremely lucky and I have actually been diving with penguins at Living Coasts in Torquay – it was an absolutely amazing experience! I got to feed the penguins, and we also had a play using some underwater rocket toys which they loved to chase. I also helped clean the windows for the viewing section.
I actually put together a guide on where to visit penguins in the UK:
How can people find out more about The Penguin Patrol (feel free to plug your website, products, social media and anything else!)?
We’ve got a penguin blog which you can catch up on trips Pici has been on and other penguin news – https://thepenguinpatrol.co.uk/blogs/penguins
We’ve also got some exciting new products coming in February from Nature Planet including little penguin vet sets. You can also sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about new items and more here: http://eepurl.com/cn9jQ1