A Visit With Jan Campbell of Stephan Baby

Boo-Bunnie Ice Packs -- soothing children since 1987.

When was your brand born, and what was the initial inspiration?

Boo-Bunnie Ice Pack and Stephan were born in 1987. I was at my sister’s house and her son, Will, got a boo-boo. She went to the freezer and pulled out a washcloth she had rolled up to look like a bunny, put and ice cube in it, and gave it to Will to hold on his boo-boo. He stopped crying immediately and was so comforted by this little bunny, that I said, ” That’s a great item, someone should market it!” She showed me how to make them and I was off and running, as I worked as a gift sales rep at that time and was already calling on gift stores.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting?

My biggest challenge getting started was finding supplies at a low enough price to use to make the bunnies. Also, finding the time to make them was tough as I had to be on the road selling to earn an income.

What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

  1. I asked questions and listened to the answers carefully, learning firsthand how to invoice, ship, do basic accounting, and work trade shows.
  2. As we grew, I changed the line package often … and always had a summer introduction of new products.
  3. I always charged a fair price, a little under the market average. Anytime I sourced a great price, I passed those savings on to my customers.

Describe a typical new product development cycle for your business?

  1. First a theme is decided. For example if we want to do a playful puppy group, we first do a basic design and then decide the categories (plush toy, rattle, bottle bank, blanket etc) that would be appropriate for development. We call this layering, so that in the end we have a diverse group of products in different price ranges that displays nicely in a store.
  2. We send the drawings in to our factories in China and have samples made. Usually, two to three revisions are necessary before we are satisfied with it. We also have safety testing done as soon as possible.

Do “green” or eco-friendly concerns influence your business decisions, and if so, how?

Yes, of course, we are working on becoming eco-friendly as much as possible. We try to e-mail invoices as much as we can, and reuse all the packing products that come into our shipping department.

What is one new trend you’re seeing in the marketplace?

The main trend we see is for retail prices to stay at $19.99 or less, at least for the rest of this year. We are selling brighter colors better than ever, and our customers love any unusual plush fabrics we put into our toys.

How does your business make use of the Internet?

We use the Internet to advertise our products. We have our own website showing all items available for purchase. Both wholesale and retail customers can buy directly from our website. We have recently added an area for the newly required CPSIA testing, so that a customer can easily reference all of the testing we have performed on an item. Soon, our website will be updated to include a gift registry and a retail store locator.

What is the biggest challenge your business faces today?

Getting good cooperation out of Chinese factories without huge price increases during the year… they are facing rapidly rising costs in everything they make, new labor laws have put extra burden on the production costs, and now testing must be done before an item ships out. Many factories are closing on a day’s notice.

What is one change/addition that’s had a positive impact for your business in the last year?

One change we have made this year that has made a very positive impact on our business is that instead of offering up our leftover and less-popular items for liquidation, we advertised a 50%-off sale to our customers last Fall. We sent out a brochure showing each item we offered, and the special price was listed. First come, first served. It was great … We will have one again this Fall.

If you had one piece of advice for someone entering the children’s market, what would it be?

The safest piece of advice is that I would not open a new business right now with the economy as it is.

About Stephan Baby

Stephan Baby is the home of heartwarming gifts for little ones. We offer sweet new and traditional baby gifts, including inspirational items, silver, plush, layette, totes, blankets.

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The first gift that made me smile.

Thanks for sharing your insights Jan! I just had to say, the Boo-Bunnie was one of the first gifts we received before our daughter Taylor was born in 2005. In a basket full of goodies, that bunnie really stood out and is the one item I still remember. It certainly brought a smile to my face. I also made me realize “oh yeah, boo boos are coming”. Laughing

James Pooton
The “Web” Guy