BabyLegs Goes from Baby Steps to International Strides
Nicole Donnelly, professional snowboarder turned mom-entrepreneur, embodies the term “mother of invention.” Living in Seattle with her husband and new daughter, Nicole had retired her snowboard and was settling into family life.
At 6 months old, when most babies are getting easier and moms are breathing a sigh of relief, Nicole’s daughter Sara struggled with severe diaper rash. As a breastfeeding mom, anything irritating Nicole ate, combined with attempts at feeding baby Sara solid food, led to painful rashes. Nicole had no choice but to go diaper-free, something she describes as “really stressful.”
Mother of Invention
Needing to keep little Sarah warm, and a true entrepreneur at heart, Nicole took matters into her own hands. Pulling out boxes of old snowboarding socks, she cut them to fit Sarah’s little legs. She then turned to her pillow cases and pajamas to craft little skirts. You can just imagine her sweet little girl running around with leg warmers and a homemade skirt with a little “naked bum” underneath.
Raising a diaper-free baby wasn’t easy, and Nicole sought support from the community. She quickly discovered a Seattle group for diaper-free families. She anxiously joined the group and found a whole segment of the parenting world ranging from diaper-free, to cloth diapers, to attachment parenting that dealt with similar issues she was thrown into with Sarah’s diaper rash.
Recognizing a Need in Others
At meetings, families began asking about her leggings and so the BabyLegs brand was born!
She immediately recognized a huge need in this niche market of about 4,000 families around the world, and began producing the socks to fill that need. In the beginning she bought socks at the dollar store, cut off the feet, and hemmed the leggings at her kitchen table. Always resourceful and wasting for not, she describes the “bags and bags of sock feet” she still keeps in her kitchen “for rags around the house.”
From Sock Rags to Riches
Filling a significant need in a tigh- knit community, news of BabyLegs spread across the world. Within a couple of months, Nicole was running out of cute fabrics and realized she couldn’t keep cutting feet off socks! She went online and found manufacturers to produce the leggings. Within 6 months, BabLlegs had 2 international distributors and was sold in over 100 stores.
Today, only 4 years after its start, BabyLegs is sold in over 50 countries and 2,500 retailers. BabyLegs’ operations grew from the kitchen table to a small bedroom and garage with a hand-built packing table, to an office. The office has received multiple additions over the years, and most recently a sister office in New York.
Staying True to Its Roots
Today, BabyLegs are worn by babies for their fun and function, not just out of a need to alleviate discomfort from rashes. Despite the brand’s wide-ranging popularity, BabyLegs keeps true to its roots. While Nicole is no longer an active member in the Seattle diaper-free community, she participates in online forums, keeping the conversation going and donating product to families in need. Nicole describes her desire, “to stay connected to communities that matter and that help make BabyLegs what it is today.”
BabyLegs lends a hand with donations to children’s hospitals, Ronald McDonald House, and Baby Disco. Nicole is open to many opportunities to give back.
Exciting Steps in 2009
After 4 years in business, BabyLegs continues to grow and expand. For Fall 2009 the line is expanding to include leggings, tights, and socks. Collections are expanding and BabyLegs will debut new gift packaging. One of the most exciting additions to the fall line is a limited-edition washable cashmere line. BabyLegs goes uber-chic!
As the company expands, it’s placing emphasis on the value of strong retailer support. New point of sale displays and a new Internet site are set to launch in August. The site will provide more interaction for retailers and customers. Retailers will be able to access digital photos, marketing materials, and place orders directly from the site. This is a company that cares about all parts of its team.
Marketing Support for Retailers
When asked what she would like to say to retailers, Nicole was eager to reply, “If retailers would like to work with us in any way they should just ask. We are open to strategic partnerships, especially in this economy. We are prepared to assist our retailers in many creative and productive ways.” BabyLegs provides marketing support for retailers that have trunk shows or want to run special promotions.
Starting from a simple and necessary idea, this mom saw a real need and sought to satisfy it. Driven by a desire to serve her community and those who have helped her along the way, Nicole Donnelly has turned a simple idea into an international sensation that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
For wholesale information e-mail . For information about the BabyLegs product line and upcoming events visit www.babylegs.com.
Do you know someone who has navigated the “Road To Success” in the children’s business? Someone who is on their way? Let us know! .