Here at Amara, we decided to dig a little closer and bring you a mini series of interviews with moms that are running fantastic companies, while raising little ones. Because let’s be serious, #momboss is akin to superhero in our book.
I started interviewing “mom-preneurs” because sometimes starting something seems like a big goal, sometimes starting something feels like something “other people” do. At Amara, we interview founders of these companies so you can see that Mia from Snuggle me, Mushie from Mushie Co and all of these mamas that started their amazing companies are just people. Just like you and me.
You didn’t get a manual when you became a parent, and you don’t get a manual when you’re running a company – so, we’re here to show you - whatever you are dreaming of doing, whether it’s the next million-dollar business or starting the blog you’ve always dreamed of - it’s possible.
The path for Katie to starting Yeah Baby Goods was not a straight line, but she – like many of the founders I get to interview – just knew it was right.
How did you start Yeah Baby Goods?
My firstborn hated every high chair he ever met, until the day he sat in the IKEA Antilop. We were eating in the IKEA cafeteria and we couldn’t believe he didn’t scream bloody murder when we put him in. We bought both the highchair and support cushion that day. The pattern on the cushion was not at all my style, so I told my sewing friends to they should start a business making home décor-friendly covers. I couldn’t get anyone excited about the idea, so I started my own in April 2016. At first, it was just my family and friends who were buying, but then other people started buying on the Etsy shop and Yeah Baby Goods was born!
What do you sell now?
Cushions, placemats and footrests for the IKEA highchair. We also sell a Mama’s Must Have Restaurant Bag that includes a reusable silicone table placemat and food scissors in a cute zipper tote to make eating out with babies easier and more sanitary.
What were you doing before Yeah Baby Goods?
I worked in market research for a few years after college, but it wasn’t for me. So I started my own business designing wedding albums in 2007. In 2012, my husband also left his corporate job and started a fitness equipment company. Once we got our first taste of small business life, we were hooked.
Was there one moment that you knew it was going to work?
I think for an entrepreneur it’s never this “one moment” that you made it – it’s more like an ebb and flow and sometimes it peaks. I think we learn to adapt quickly or move on to the next thing.
You and your husband both work on Yeah Baby Goods together, how do you manage that with the kids?
Oh gosh, the first couple years we had no schedule and were either both playing with the kids and not working, or the reverse. Coming up with a daily routine was a game changer, especially since we decided to homeschool.
Now, we all eat breakfast together then I go work downstairs while Brent, my husband, does homeschool with the kids. We all eat lunch together and then I get to be with the kids in the afternoon while Brent works downstairs.
Our focus and way of life really revolve around finding ways to combine business and work with our family – I can’t see us going back to corporate life. This just feels right for our family.
Was it always easy for you to make that decision?
No, it wasn’t always easy. We knew we wanted to be deeply involved with the kids and their day-to-day. When we both started working from home, it was a really special thing for our marriage, kids and family. But it did require some sacrifice. When Brent quit his accounting job in 2012, I said, “That’s fine, as long as we don’t have to sell the house.” That was kind of my bottom line. But then in 2015, we knew we either needed to downsize, or go back to corporate life. By that point, I had experienced three wonderful years of having his help at home, and it was an easy decision. It’s not always glamorous and there’s definitely been some sacrifice, but it’s part of the story and we love it so much. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s your team look like?
Up until recently it was just me and my husband. About a month ago, we hired my sister to help with order fulfillment. I usually spend my mornings catching up on Instagram and with our customers. For me, hearing the voice of our customers is really important and fuels my fire for Yeah Baby Goods. Plus, Instagram is still where the majority of our customers find us so I feel like it’s important I’m on there.
What was the big turning point for you as a business?
Last fall we started really thinking about what we wanted the Instagram community to be and look like. We wanted to know our customers better and we also wanted them to get to know us as a family. So we started getting more personal and showing our faces more. At first, it felt weird and we were nervous to show we aren’t a big polished brand in a fancy office with a bunch of marketing people behind us. Now, we embrace that. We are a family business that runs Yeah Baby Goods out of our basement. I think a lot of small businesses feel less-than because they don’t have the same resources as large corporations, but people want to see other people. We try really hard to show customers that we truly care about them and appreciate their support.
After really spending some time on Instagram, the community there really started rooting for our business ad family. When we launched our new highchair footrest, we sold over 2,000 footrests in 4 hours! It was crazy.
What’s next for you?
This year we’re focusing on moving from a small company to a larger company – analyzing our current systems and processes to see if they’re still best for the company the way it is now. We want to continue doing what we’re doing now, add more to the product line and do what we do even better and more efficiently.
Congratulations on such amazing growth! It’s so exciting. When you look back to those early days – what advice would you tell yourself? What advice would you tell someone that is looking to start something?
First, go for it. If you’re on the fence, it’s always worth a try. Don’t get discouraged by slow beginnings. Don’t compare, just focus on your business, your customers and how you can reach new people.
For us, social media has been super helpful. I focus on building genuine connections with people and influencers. In the beginning, I was just reaching out to anyone who had an IKEA highchair. Now we have followers who are so excited about the products and the family behind the business that they want to share about us too! It has become a very organic, two-way community.
So mamas, a lot of times starting a business can seem like a far out dream, but Katie started with an idea and then slowly grew it to a reality. It hasn’t always been easy and there definitely wasn’t anyone telling her how to do it – but, like motherhood – she just figured it out.
These months are a trying time for everyone. Our realities are shifting under our feet and it’s more than a little unnerving at times. But, together we can, and will, make it.
For all you parents out there trying to make the impossible, possible – we know that homemade baby food is often times more of a dream than a reality, right? For those times, Amara is here to bring you the next best thing to fresh homemade baby food. Because you CAN get all the benefits of fresh homemade, anytime, anywhere.
Stay safe out there, xoxo,