J.L. Childress: It's All in the Family

J.L. Childress Co. was started 30 years ago by Jan Childress. Today, Childress’ daughters Kate Doti and Sarah Gray are continuing to grow their mother’s legacy. “Jan’s needs as a working mom who wanted to breastfeed her daughters for as long as possible were the inspiration behind J.L. Childress’ first products,” Doti recounts. Childress first designed the Express Bag, which is a tote bag to carry breast pumps and the DuffleCOOL, an insulated bag with a reusable ice pack. Childress marketed the products to other working moms and eventually sold to catalogs and into retail. As sales increased rapidly in the mid-‘80s, she worked tirelessly around her babies’ schedules to design and market additional products for on-the-go parents.

J.L. Childress has grown to now celebrate 30 years and a position as a leader in gear accessories both in the U.S. and worldwide. Their core products are for families on-the-go. They consider themselves “on-the-go” experts, providing functional products at an affordable price point for practical parenting.

Doti says of their growth, “One of the keys to our success has been staying true to our areas of expertise and continually designing new and innovative products. Jan has been the one and only product designer for 30 years — her expertise and knowledge of what parents need, how to manufacture a quality product and how to work with retailers to meet their needs has left a legacy of successful products that have stood the test of time.” Their MaxiCOOL 4-Bottle Insulated Tote has been a leading bottle cooler for over 15 years. They also take great pride in listening to their consumers and their retailers. Many of their most successful products have been born out of the ability to adapt and learn from their customers.

Over the past 30 years J.L. Childress has seen a steady growth. Doti explains, “We have been lucky to produce a mix of classic, best-sellers along with innovative, new product concepts. Our core products are widely distributed and supported by top retailers in the industry and throughout the world, giving us the opportunity to develop new products and sales channels. The products speak for themselves with strong sales, allowing us to approach new markets with confidence and positive sales history.” They have also been recently able to differentiate into private label opportunities and distribution.

All their products are designed in-house. They are constantly looking for inspiration and meeting with what they call their “M.V.P.s” or “Most Valuable Parents” to hear their everyday stories of being out-and-about with the family. Now that Doti and Gray are mothers, they are also able to contribute to product development ideas and bring a fresh approach to what today’s parents need. Doti says, “We have solid, long-standing relationships with our factories that provide us with a great deal of mind and flexibility.”

J.L. Childress is the only juvenile brand with a full line of travel bags for strollers and car seats. Their iconic Gate Check Bags are loved by traveling parents around the world and their heavy-duty car seat and stroller travel bags provide parents with convenient and affordable bags to protect and carry their gear while traveling.

Doti says her favorite product is the Pacifier Pals. “They are so cute and my son, Austin, absolutely loves them! When he was an infant, he would stare at the owl’s eyes and then moved on to loving the crinkly sounds in the dog’s ears. Now as a toddler, he carries around the monkey with his toy cars or other treasures in it. They are a really unique product and I have a strong personal testimonial to their ability to entertain and be functional.”

J.L. Childress just introduced some new prints at ABC last year and are continuing to develop along those lines. The RYCO Diaper Bag Line that they distribute from Australia also has new 2015 styles launching.

For more information, visit www.jlchildress.com