MEET THE MOMPRENEUR® OF THE MONTH
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2 boys: Matthew 9; Tommy, 3
MY BIZ: organicKidz, the world’s first stainless steel baby bottles.
BUSINESS BIRTH DATE: July 2008
MY GREEN INSPIRATION: organicKidz baby bottles were born from frustration. When the BPA scare hit North America in 2008, I realized that the baby bottles I had used for my children contained high levels of this chemical. BPA (bisphenol A) is an endocrine disruptor linked to cancer, fertility issues, ADD, and more. I felt tremendous guilt for having exposed my babies to this toxin. I had nieces and nephews on the way and I didn’t want them or any other babies to be exposed to BPA or other toxins found in plastic. I started thinking about inventing a safe, BPA-free baby bottle.
ECO-FRIENDLY INGREDIENT: Our bottles are made from stainless steel, an inert metal that’s a safe alternative to plastic, and great for the environment too. Because stainless steel doesn’t break, these bottles can be used for years. organicKidz baby bottles convert to Sippy Cup and our Water Bottle attachment is in development. Our goal is to go from birth to toddler to school age and beyond with the same products. It’s better for parents’ pocketbooks and better for the planet. Stainless steel is recyclable, so our bottles won’t end up in landfills somewhere. Unlike glass and plastic, our bottles are naturally bacteria resistant, so they don’t require harsh cleaning chemicals that can damage the environment.
START-UP STEPS: Once I knew I wanted to create stainless steel baby bottles, I chose a bottle design that was made for little hands. The most difficult process was figuring out how to see inside stainless steel – parents needed to be able to measure how much liquid their baby was taking in. To accommodate this, I made the 4 and 7oz bottles from a single layer of steel, and had a measuring scale stamped in the side. This allows for parents to “feel” how much liquid is in the bottle. If you pour 4oz of warm milk in the bottle, you will feel warmth up to the 4oz line on the scale. The same works for cool liquids. Each bottle’s lid doubles as a 2oz measuring cup, making it easy to measure formula perfectly. I wanted to offer the World’s First Thermal Baby Bottle too – so our 9oz bottles keep liquids hot or cold for 6+hours. This makes play dates, travel, and outings so much easier! No more hassles trying to find hot water to make formula with, or refrigeration to keep milk cold. Once these designs were worked out, we had molds created for the bottles and then went into manufacturing. There have been some small changes along the way, but for the most part, the bottles remain the same as the prototypes.
READY, SET, LAUNCH: The best move I made was launching at the ABC Kids Expo, the biggest baby and child tradeshow in North America. It was a big risk, with the tight timeline I had from idea conception to manufacturing. When I came up with the idea we had just over a month before the ABC show. In fact our bottles didn’t arrive until 2 ½ days into the show! organicKidz was fortunate enough to get into the Naturally Kid’s Section of the ABC show so that gave us instant exposure to Green Retailers and buyers looking for safer product choices. Because there is a strong media presence at the Show – we were able to get a lot of publicity from our launch as well. We walked away from the show having created a big buzz – which was exactly what we wanted.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: We grew quickly—in just over a year from the date our first shipment of bottles hit store shelves, we’re in 21 countries. With growth like that, we’ve had our share of manufacturing issues and it’s just now that we are feeling like things are starting to go more smoothly.
TOP MARKETING STRATEGIES: Launching in the Naturally Kids section of the largest baby show in North America helped set us up with a lot of opportunities. Applying for awards also gave us credibility and publicity. organicKidz is now Disneyfamily.com’s Top Green and Organic Product because of this. It’s great to have the marketing power of Disney behind us and it has definitely helped us on a consumer level. EcoBabyWorld and ptpaMedia both chose organicKidz for Green Awards and that has really allowed us get our name out in the Green Community. I was fortunate enough to win the JPMA (Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association) Innovation Award for one of the ten most innovative products in North America. This brought awareness about organicKidz to retailers and trade media. Additionally, I chose to do some celebrity gifting, as celebrity endorsements would allow us to get exposure faster than we would have otherwise. organicKidz can now say that Matthew McConaughey, Tim Allen, and Charlie Sheen use our bottles for their babies!
BEST BALANCING TRICKS: Balance? What’s that??? I’m not sure balance is the right word! Some days go really well and I think I’ve got it made and that I can handle anything! Then the next day, one of my kids will be in tears or I’ll forget to grab something from the store that I needed to make dinner and suddenly things are crazy. That’s just the way it is – I don’t think it’s about achieving balance as much as it’s about accepting that there will be great days and not so great days. But at the end of every day, my children know I love them and my business will still be there tomorrow. And I’m happy with that!
ADVICE TO NEWBIES: Trust that your company won’t disintegrate if you take a couple of hours off to be with your family. Close your laptop and put your cell on mute and just enjoy your kids. Life becomes a whole lot easier when you learn to do this.
Learn more about organicKidz, the world’s first stainless steel baby bottles!