This Adoptive Mama Is Creating A Beautiful + Inclusive Baby Brand
Every mama knows that sleep is key to a happy kid. But for Jill Apgar, founder of Coco Beans, it also means embracing her child's natural beauty. With support from our partner Office Depot OfficeMax, we are sharing Selfmade stories about entrepreneurs and their road to launch. Jill has designed an adorable set of silk crib sheets and pillowcases with her daughter's hair and skin in mind. But that's just the beginning. Learn how she's growing her brand with a set of micro-goals and big-picture thinking.
B + C: What motivated you to start Coco Beans? What problem are you trying to solve for your customers?
Jill: Coco Beans' first product was a line of machine washable 100% silk crib sheets originally designed to help manage my daughter Cora's tangled hair so that she would learn to love her natural curls. As a transracial adoptive mom, teaching Cora to celebrate her hair, a fundamental cultural pillar of her Black heritage, was a responsibility that I did not take lightly so when I couldn't get her bedhead tangles under control, I got to work creating the very first Coco Beans prototypes.
B + C: How has the company evolved since your initial "aha" moment?
Jill: From a product standpoint, we are learning from our customer's insights and feedback - they are directly influencing the direction of the brand. From a purpose and values standpoint, we remain steadfast in our mission to celebrate the beauty of what makes a family unique as well as our commitment to sourcing an ethical and transparent supply chain.
B + C: What startup challenges have you faced along the way?
Jill: There is certainly a steep learning curve to starting any business and launching during a pandemic presents its fair share of unique hurdles to clear. That said, my specific challenges range from navigating supply chain issues to learning to prioritize my time as a solo founder.
B + C: What strategies helped you overcome them?
Jill: I now accept that I am only one person and try to focus my time on projects to maximize impact. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the never ending lists of to-dos so I try to break them down into micro-goals and ensure that my days are set up to work toward achieving them.
B + C: What would you say are your top successes so far?
Jill: Closing our $25K presale campaign was a huge success and critical to launching the brand. Recognizing how many people believed in me and Coco Beans gave me the confidence to push forward.
B + C: How have you approached marketing your brand and raising awareness?
Jill: We operate a blended strategy of organic social media, paid advertising and grassroots PR, though traditional word of mouth has been the most successful in terms of conversion.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
Jill: The Selfmade coursework provided me with the structure to develop a strategic vision for Coco Beans. By stepping away from the day-to-day operations each week to attend the live classes and small group sessions, I was able to focus on big-picture thinking.
B + C: Who and what inspires you?
Jill: My mom has always influenced my work ethic and my daughter inspires me to dream bigger and create something that she will one day be proud of.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Jill: Just get started! As a founder, it's easy to get stuck in your own head trying to perfect your idea but it's impossible to know what you don't know. The best way to learn is to put your product or service out there, get feedback and adapt!
B + C: What's next for Coco Beans?
Jill: The sky is the limit for Coco Beans. I dream of Coco Beans as a household name, but in the more immediate future you can look for product expansion based on customer feedback into categories that ultimately feel like great adjacencies to our signature silk crib sheets!
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot OfficeMax scholarship to Selfmade done to help you grow your business?
Jill: The Office Depot scholarship relaxed the financial burden and allowed me to dive headfirst into the Selfmade coursework.
Have an idea and not sure where to take it? Start with micro-goals while staying focused on the big picture. Office Depot OfficeMax can help turn your next big idea into a reality with a suite of business services to help you accomplish more - from signs, posters & banners to get your business noticed to marketing materials to bring your brand vision to life. Learn more at Office Depot's Selfmade page.