Boon — Designer Mom Took the Leap and Did It Her Way!
Rebecca Finell, founder of Boon, shares her “Road to Success” with The Giggle Guide®. Editorial Director David Gaunt recalls, “I remember very well the impact her student design, The Frog Pod made at the JPMA show several years ago. I met her among a group of competitive student designers, and by the next show she was a successful corporate executive, building one of the most exciting new children’s brands in years. I’ve seen a lot, having attended juvenile product shows since 1979, and Boon has been one of the best, and most well-deserved success stories. She understood function and design, plus the importance of brand image.” Her story is a great example of the possibilities of staying true to one’s business vision and being willing to take the risks necessary to succeed.
Rebecca Finell began studying at ASU to become a doctor. Early in her studies her true passion came calling, Industrial Design. Feeling that tug, she stopped in her tracks, started over from scratch and changed her major. From the science lab to the engineering lab, Rebecca was a designer through and through.
She planned to combine her two passions, medicine and design, to create medical equipment. That was before she had kids. While still in school she married and had two babies. As she put it, after having kids she “found a new passion.”
Following a New Passion
With two small children, Rebecca was stunned at the lack of innovation and design available in children’s products. As with many mompreneurs, the day-to-day grind of caring for kids drove her to develop functional pieces, but the designer in her ached to see some true style in the products filling her home. She had no idea how far this simple combination would take her.
Designing the Frog Pod
When it came time to design her junior year studio project, all she could see was a dirty bathroom covered in plastic bath toys. Combine her mom experience and drive for function with her design prowess, and the Frog Pod was born! Surely her professor was impressed, but so was the JPMA. She entered the Frog Pod into the JPMA Student Design competition and walked away with the Grand Prize!
The Frog Pod received immediate acclaim and Rebecca was flooded with interest from industry, retailers, the media, and other manufacturers. Everyone wanted to leap onto that Frog Pod!
“I wanted to do it my way!”
Rebecca struggled with licensing the product or manufacturing it herself. With an infant and an 18-month old at home, she first chose to license the Frog Pod. Just as before, her inner-designer started itching and she said, “I want to do it my way!” She knew she had to take control of her designs. Licensing was out.
Taking a Giant Leap
Knowing nothing about business, she went on a search for a partner. Not long after, she met Ryan Fernandez, an Intel exec with an MBA. Ryan was looking for a stand- out product that he could build a business around. A week after meeting Ryan, Rebecca’s husband left his job to be a stay-at-home dad, and Boon Inc. was born!
In its early days, Boon was operated out of Ryan Fernandez’s home office. Doing nothing half-way, Boon Inc. was built to be a large company which helped them handle their exponential growth. The new team started with a simple plan to start with what works. Their plan was to grow the Frog Pod and focus on getting it everywhere before introducing new products.
Once again propelled by other forces, buyers began asking for more products. They needed a line; they needed to build their brand. Rebecca got to reprise her role as chief designer. She admits that the combination of her degree, being a mom, and even being a woman have given her an edge in the design industry. She points out that even up until recently the design industry has been dominated by engineers which include mostly men. Being a mom, she points out, puts her “in the trenches” and gives her a front row seat to the real needs of parents today.
A Brand is Born
Boon’s first line of products included the Frog Pod, Flair the high chair, the Potty Bench, and Flo, a multi-functional faucet cover.
Today, Boon’s line includes 100s of products and accessories. Rebecca is still in charge of design and building the brand. The Boon style jumps off the shelves with clean lines, bold colors, simple forms and fashionable functions.
Innovation and Aesthetics
Rebecca attributes Boon’s success to its innovation and focus on the function and aesthetics that today’s parents want. It’s easy to see that Boon’s success is also related to Rebecca’s perseverance in staying true to herself. Whether it was starting over at school to stay true to her passions, or taking huge risks to stay true to her personal brand, without Rebecca’s drive to do things her way, Boon would not be what it is today.
It’s the “American Dream” that promises if you stay true to yourself, you can achieve great things. Boon has certainly done that and more.
For more information about Boon and their newest product, the Stash, visit www.Booninc.com.