Business: Bobee, LLC
About your business
I moved to Denver three years ago with my husband and 18-month-old son, while eight months pregnant. When we moved into a small apartment, I needed something to hold diapers and wipes where they were convenient, but also out of the way so my son wouldn't see them as something to play with. A wall-mounted dispenser was exactly what I needed, but I couldn't find anything online or in stores that would hold both the diapers and the wipes. I had a need and I couldn't find a solution online or in stores, so I created one myself; the Bobee Diaper and Wipe Dispenser. Bobee is currently sold in baby boutiques around the country and online.
What inspired you to open your business?
I was encouraged with feedback from mom's and dads who also had this need. Finding the solution to my problem was my inspiration and kept me going. Now, as I am selling to retailers, I am inspired every time I make a sale or receive a photo from a mom who put the Bobee dispenser in her nursery. It is very rewarding to see something you made being used by others.
What has been your biggest unexpected challenge?
My biggest challenge has been funding. The cost of starting a business is so much more than I ever expected but luckily we had the means to take on this challenge ourselves. I did take a hiatus at one point and went back to work for six months. Additionally, I received the 2012 Huggies MomInspired grant of $15,000 earlier this year which helped cover the cost of product photography and graphic design of our website and packaging. With this grant, I was able to bring my product to market.
How do you balance family and business?
I structure my time very well. My family has a set weekly schedule for school that I coordinate with my work time. We have a calendar on the refrigerator that outlines "mommy days" where I spend one-on-one time with my sons, my husband's travel, and family days where we are focused on the family (no running to answer an email, phone calls or allowing anything to interfere from our kids). This allows us to have better focus for our kids and our work.
When you are really stressed, you are most likely to _______________________
Eat a pan of brownies. I'll be honest here, running your own business and the time and financial investment are huge. But I wouldn't trade the challenges and opportunities for anything. Being your own boss takes a lot of dedication and motivation but the rewards are ten-fold.
A piece of advise for other Moms interested in opening a business.
My advice has always been that you'll need to increase the time and cost that you budget. Through the process of designing and manufacturing the Bobee Diaper & Wipe Dispenser, the time to do things was always twice what I expected. For example, the tooling to create the mold for the dispenser had delays and even our last production run was delayed due to the Colorado Springs wildfires. There will always be something out of your control that you cannot plan for, so I always add more time to the estimates that I receive. Our budget has always gone over too. I learned early on that an estimate is just that, a guess as to what it will cost. While in many cases you can hold the service provider to that number, there will be instances where you must allow for overage. And there are those opportunities that come up that you just don't want to miss out on but never budgeted for.
Fun fact about you
I'm really handy and creative. When designing the Bobee Diaper and Wipe Dispenser my first prototype was from a cardboard box, the second from plexi-glass. I went to the hardware store and bought sheets of plexi-glass then used the Drammel and cut the sheets to size and the diaper and wipe openings. My 19-month-old son would be at a drop-off daycare so I could rest and take care of my newborn son. But I found myself getting really creative with the diaper caddy I wanted to create.