Celebrating Women in Business: Meet Pip & Grow
In honor of National Women in Business Week, we’re celebrating one of our favorite clients and women in business, Pip & Grow. Check out their featured story below.
Pip & Grow strives to keep children safe by creating beautiful, socially, and environmentally responsible products ethically made in the USA. Through their online store, they offer the Smitten Sleep System, a portable baby box. Infants can sleep in Smitten for up to 6 months, the riskiest period for SIDS and suffocation.
What inspired you to get in the business?
AMBER: I’m an infant safety expert and after reviewing the deaths of lots and lots of babies due to unsafe sleep I recognized a pattern- nearly every baby had access to a safe sleep space like a crib or a pack-n-play. The parents just weren’t using it consistently. And babies were dying as a result. Parents chose more convenient but less safe options like car seats, bouncy seats, bed sharing, etc. I set out to find a product to replace those ‘convenient’ sleep spaces but was *actually* a safe sleep space.
When I Googled ‘portable bassinet’ the only things that came up were products that I, as a safety expert, wouldn’t endorse. They were too expensive, or too heavy, or so small that the baby would grow out of it in a few months. Then, I read a story about the Finnish Maternity Package, which included a baby box. It resonated so deeply with me that I immediately applied for an innovation grant and won!
KATE: Amber inspired me. When she shared her idea at a girls’ weekend and asked for help launching her idea, I was all in. It’s a brilliant idea that makes parents’ lives easier and keeps babies safe. Win-win!
LAUREN: For many years, I worked at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and saw firsthand the grief of families who lost children to preventable deaths. When Amber told me about her idea, there was no way I could NOT do it.
Tell us about baby boxes. What makes your business unique?
AMBER: Well, just the fact there aren’t many other products out there like this! Baby boxes have been used for over 80 years in Finland. In the U.S., people tend to think it’s a bit odd. At least until they see the product, then they LOVE it.
KATE: We’re turning the baby industry on its head. For so long parents have been told they need the highest tech, most expensive baby products. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that “more is more.” But, with our Smitten baby box, we’re proving that a simple, elegant solution is even better.
LAUREN: There are a ton of baby products that parents use because they’re easy and portable that aren’t actually safe for sleeping (rock plays, dock-a-tots, etc). Smitten is both convenient AND safe.
Who is your target audience?
AMBER: Our target market, at least for direct to consumer, is moms and dads who want something simple but chic and good for the environment. We want parents to get back to basics. No baby needs a $5000 crib. 😉
KATE: We target trendsetting parents and moms-to-be who want the best for their babies.
LAUREN: Our customers are socially-conscious, early adopters who prioritize safety and good design. They are well-traveled, highly educated and live in big metropolitan areas.
What brands do you admire and why?
AMBER: I admire companies and brands that want to do well while doing good. Companies like Ben and Jerry’s Ice-cream prove that you can have an incredible company and also have an incredible impact.
KATE: We love Patagonia. Their commitment to making a positive impact on the planet, beyond just making a profit, inspires us. We are American made and only work with manufacturers who treat their workers well. Like Patagonia, we believe in prioritizing people (without sacrificing profit) to leave the world a little better than we found it.
LAUREN: Ideo – they constantly push the envelope in a human-centered, data-driven way, just like us! Patagonia – a hugely profitable social enterprise with a conscience.
What’s it like to work with a team of determined, powerful women?
AMBER: It is awesome. I’m constantly impressed with my business partners- their professionalism, their drive, and their dedication. They bring incredible empathy to the table as well. I couldn’t ask for better partners. I learn so much from them!
KATE: Every day is an adventure! My partners have bold ideas and know how to get things done. Every workday is a new kind of inspiration.
LAUREN: Inspiring. Kate and Amber are two of my best friends before we even started Pip. They bring such bravery, grit, and intelligence to everything that they do.
You know what it’s like when you’re cliff diving with friends… when you’re standing at the ledge together and you’re terrified and excited and trying to drum up the courage to jump? These are the girls that will not only jump with you but also make you feel like it’s the best idea in the world and foolish not to jump. They are exactly who you want standing next to you.
What does it take to be a business owner in today’s changing environment?
AMBER: I think you have to be flexible and innovative in different ways. It takes bravery to face the uncertainty. Most of all, I think you need grit. The ability to stand in the face of adversity (like someone laughing at your product) and believing so deeply in your product that you make it through the other side stronger and smarter.
KATE: Patience and a strong stomach. There’s a lot of “if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.” What worked yesterday doesn’t work tomorrow. We’re constantly walking the line of adapting quickly vs giving strategies time to play out. We’ve had to get comfortable with uncertainty.
LAUREN: So many things. A supportive and super understanding partner and family. Mentors and experts like SCORE and Strategy to fill in the gaps where you’re weak. Gumption and grit. An ability to keep going, no matter how tired or overwhelmed or doubtful you are.
What are the common challenges you face as a business owner?
AMBER: Time. One of my business partners likens running a business to the spinning plate act – you have all these spinning plates that you race around and try
to keep going, but eventually, you get tired and it starts to tumble. I think it takes daily reminders to try and let go of the outcome and just live in the experience.
KATE: The nuts and bolts of running a business aren’t very glamorous. It can be hard to maintain your creative energy when you’re managing inventory and balancing budgets. There are low days where you think this can’t possibly work. Then there are high points where you think you’re the next Apple. It’s one big rollercoaster. Thank goodness we have each other to lean on.
LAUREN: Finding time to do all the things. No matter how much you do, you can always do more.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting their own business?
AMBER: DO IT. What is the worst that could happen? Failure? Nah. The worst that could happen is that you are laying on your death bed and you have regrets. It isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Also, ask for help! Use all the resources in your community like the Small Business Administration, SCORE Mentors, and lots and lots of other organizations.
KATE: Do it! If you love your idea enough to take the leap, you won’t regret it. Also, hire a business attorney early to help you with trademarks, operating agreements, and patents. It’s expensive but worth it to iron out all of the kinks before money starts to come in.
LAUREN: Talk to people who have opened successful and unsuccessful businesses. Learn from them. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and ask for help where you’re weak.
What do you like about working with Strategy?
AMBER: It’s great to have a partner who we can trust and rely on. We can’t all be experts in everything. It has been really wonderful to just have you guys say ‘This is what we would do if it was up to us’. It brings tremendous peace of mind.
KATE: We aren’t digital marketing experts. We know just enough to know that this is the most important way we reach our customers. So, we rely on Strategy to guide us to the best approaches. They’re also really friendly, knowledgeable, and responsive. They answer all of our questions and never make us feel foolish for asking. We’ve learned so much from them and wouldn’t be here without them.
LAUREN: You’ll notice a common theme here… We knew very little (read: NOTHING) about digital marketing. Strategy was the first significant investment we made in an outside vendor beyond our manufacturers because we recognized it was a set of skills worth paying for. There are eleventy-million decisions that go into opening and running a business. It’s lovely to have a partner who we trust to guide us through the confusing world of SEO and CPCs and other acronyms that I can’t even pretend to remember.
What’s happening next in the Pip & Grow world?
AMBER: So many great things! We have some new products coming out, new ideas, etc. We are looking at doing some trade shows next year which are always really fun and provide great energy to the team. We have so many great ideas to engage our customers, we are having a blast!
KATE: We’re working on a few new products (stay tuned!) as well as expanding our marketing to new venues like Pinterest. We’re experimenting with placing Smitten in a few brick and mortar stores and have new Smitten designs in the works. The adventure continues!
LAUREN: We have a lot of exciting prospects on the horizon. We’re working on new products. We have new partners coming on board. To quote the Magic Eight Ball, “Prospects are good.”
To learn more about Pip & Grow, visit their website.
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Published in Office Life