As a new parent, you’re often deluged with the many, many, many baby products out there. Whether you’re searching for the right baby carrier or wrap to wear your little one or mastering the art of the swaddle to soothe your newborn, sometimes it can be hard to find the perfect thing that works for your kiddo. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we’re chatting with Elle Rowley, the founder of Solly Baby, a baby wrap company, about her journey as a mom who couldn’t find the right kind of wrap for her son Solomon and ended up making her own.
Meet the Baby Wrap Pro: Elle Rowley
In 2011, after her second child, Solomon, was born, Elle — a recent college graduate — wanted a new kind of baby carrier to wear him. She wasn’t thrilled with what she found on the market, so she experimented with her sewing machine and fabrics. After buying a serger machine off Craigslist, she worked on her wrap design while her babies slept. Solly Baby (named after Solomon) was born. She sold the wraps in an Etsy shop. Through word-of-mouth, fashion bloggers and Instagrammers, Solly Baby had hundreds of pre-orders before she even launched her official company.
1. Give back whenever possible. Elle credits her friends and family for helping her to grow Solly Baby into the booming business it is today. “From driving fabric across the country to watching my kids and shipping orders from our garage with us, there is no way Solly Baby would be where it is today without the hands of so many people in my life,” says Elle. To pay it forward, Elle likes to support other small businesses and “be generous” to those who have helped her.
2. Build a great community. As a baby-focused brand, Elle knows that the community of moms who use her product are a big part of the success of Solly Baby. “They’re legitimately the coolest, creative, most thoughtful, supportive moms I’ve found online. I feel so lucky that we get to meet such amazing people and I am so grateful to work with an equally amazing team,” says Elle. Surrounding yourself with like-minded creative folks will only bolster your business.
3. Family first. Since Elle and her husband work on Solly Baby together, they make a lot of decisions that are based on what’s best for their family instead of what may be great for a traditional biz. “We make a lot of choices or pass up opportunities that other people may perceive as mistakes, but we don’t,” says Elle.
4. Be inspired by your children. As a working mom with three kids, Elle turns to her daughter for creative inspiration. After watching her mama, Elle’s seven-year-old daughter has started dozens of businesses — teaching babies to talk, making nature jewelry and selling vintage baby clothes, just to name a few. “I’m so inspired by her creativity,” says Elle.
5. Take your kids to work. As the owner of a family business, Elle never has to ask her boss if her kids can come along, so her children visit suppliers with her, listen to conference calls and hang out during photo shoots. “I think running a business is the best education for my kids. It’s all really just teaching them to think creatively and to become problem solvers,” says Elle.
6. Keep it simple. One of the reasons moms love Solly Baby wraps is that the patterns, colors and choice of fabrics are stylish while being highly functioning baby gear. “We work really hard to keep up with current color and pattern trends, mostly by watching the runway for the upcoming season and just recognizing the things that are inspiring me, but since it’s also functional baby gear, I don’t want it to be too trendy,” says Elle.
7. You’re the expert. When Elle first started Solly Baby, she deferred more to experts than her own gut. “I thought everyone I met knew something more about our business than I did,” says Elle. But after realizing that she is the number one expert of her own brand, she trusts her instincts better and makes the right decisions for her company.
Perfect Your Skills
1. Connect With Your Customers on Social Media ($39): In this course, home goods designer Erin Dollar shares 11 lessons for creating social media that engages your audience and builds your brand online. (Want to learn how Erin started her company, Cotton and Flax? Read about it in the How to Quit Your Day Job interview with Erin.)
2. Sewing Online Class ($19): This one-hour class will give you the skills to make three sewing projects — a napkin, pillowcase and maxi skirt. Learn how to choose the right fabric and start sewing today.
3. Take Your Child to Work Day (Free): Elle regularly brings her kids to work so they can watch and learn from her business savvy. Every year in April, the Take Our Daughters and Sons Foundation designates a day when children can go to the workplace with their parents and shadow them for the day.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Solly Baby)