Talking to go-getter business moms is always a great time! What I love most about Sandy’s story is that she saw a gaping hole in the marketplace, and rather than throw up her hands, she got to work creating the perfect product to meet her need. By creating SpenceBaby, Sandy solved not only her own problem of finding fashionable, organic baby clothing, but she solved the problem that many other moms were facing as well.
Did we mention that Sandy and her husband have created and grown SpenceBaby while both of them continue to work full-time day jobs? As Sandy says, “Sometimes you have to make some sacrifices in order to make things happen.”
Sandy and her husband Paul are definitely making things happen. They recently returned from the ABC Expo in Las Vegas – the largest baby and child expo in the world! Scroll down to see pictures of their booth – it looked AMAZING!
If you’ve ever considering launching your own clothing line, this episode is packed with some insider info on how you might be able to get started. For any other moms out there with a brilliant business idea that seems too big to achieve, listen on!
On the Podcast:
01:06 – Turning a Problem into a Business
06:34 – Finding a Supplier & Manufacturer
07:56 – The Beauty of Bootstrapping
10:09 – 1 Day, 8 Babies, and a Beautiful Photo Shoot (Learn Sandy’s best tips for photo shoot success!)
13:59 – How She Does It (What does a typical day look like for Sandy?)
16:38 – Marketing Strategy (Sandy shares what works and what doesn’t)
20:30 – Order Fulfillment, Inventory, & Staying Organized
25:46 – Even Go-getters have low points, hear how Sandy pushes past them
27:39 – Making this muddled world a better place…
33:37 – The ABC Expo (why they almost didn’t get in, and the importance of just asking!)
Learn even more on the podcast, such as what a GOTS certification is all about, why it’s so important to Sandy, who designs the clothes for Spencebaby, and what customers have to say about the quality of their product.
Turning a Problem into a Business
When Sandy discovered that her sister-in-law was pregnant and expecting a girl, she began the hunt for adorable, organic baby clothing. Although she was able to find some organic options, there wasn’t much style involved! The same uninspired onesie and romper styles kept turning up.
Not long after this, Sandy discovered that she was pregnant too. Finding a way to create fashionable, organic baby clothing became a passion. Her husband, Paul, has always been entrepreneurial, so together they started SpenceBaby, named in honor of their daughter, Spencer.
Finding a Supplier & Manufacturer
Finding the right manufacturer for their clothing line as well as the right suppliers to source their fabrics proved to be a long process. Sandy and Paul knew that they wanted to use GOTS-certified suppliers and manufacturers.
For fashion newbies like us, Sandy explained that a GOTS certification covers so much more than just being “organic”. Organic fabrics are created without the use of pesticides, but a GOTS certification means that every step of the manufacturing process must be free of harmful or toxic chemicals. This regulates the dyes that can be used in the fabrics, the materials that can be used in the buttons and zippers on a clothing item, and so much more.
To find a GOTS-certified manufacturer that was reputable and trustworthy, Sandy did lots of searching online. She found Alibaba to be an excellent source as it’s user-friendly and provided tons of options for her to explore.
Once she found some different options, she was able to get samples made and sent to her and then decide which suppliers and manufacturer to use.
The Beauty of Bootstrapping
Sarah and I were so surprised to learn that Sandy and Paul started SpenceBaby using only their own capital. They are bootstrapping it all the way!
Sandy says that they thought long and hard about this venture. They really believe in their product, so they decided to jump in and do it!
Guess what?! Sandy designs all the clothes for SpenceBaby too. She has 20 years’ experience as a visual merchandise manager, and she considers everything from the cut, sizing, colors, style, and all the little details in each piece.
1 Day, 8 Babies, & a Beautiful Photo Shoot
We’ve included a link to SpenceBaby’s Fall Lookbook (isn’t it gorgeous?!) and we just had to pick Sandy’s brain on how she pulled this one off!
(If it had been up to me to handle a photo shoot with 8 babies, we all would have wound up in a crying, spit-up-filled heap!)
Tips for a Great Photo Shoot
- Find a photographer who shares your vision (They used Ksenia Koldaeva)
- Create a schedule
- Break up the photo shoot into multiple parts
- Have all props, accessories, and backdrops organized and ready
- Steam the entire wardrobe ahead of time
- Hire a Stylist if you can afford it (They used Heather Rome)
- If you can’t afford a stylist, grab an extra pair of hands to help!
- Lighting is KEY – sunset is the perfect time to shoot outdoors, or an overcast day works well.
- Book multiple babies so that you can continuously rotate out that baby that’s tired or fussy with the baby that’s currently happy and playful
(This cutie certainly looks happy to be photographed! Sandy gave us so many adorable, gorgeous photos that we just had to share as many as we could with you throughout this blog post! Hope you enjoy them!)
How She Does It
Sandy still works a full-time job, so she’s up at 6, gets Spencer up at 7, then it’s off to daycare and work. At the end of the day, she and Spencer take the dogs out, then her husband arrives home. Next comes dinner, watching Spencer, bath-time, bedtime for baby, and then finally at that point, Sandy can begin work on SpenceBaby.
“Everything happens when Spencer is sleeping,” says Sandy.
She also mentions that her husband, Paul does the website work, and he does most of that on the weekends while Sandy is watching Spencer.
As Sandy puts it, “we’re looking at it as a small sacrifice now for a big win later.”
Marketing – what works & what doesn’t
Partnering with Mommy Bloggers for Product Reviews
Contests and Giveaways
(check out spencebaby.com/free for their latest giveaway!)
Facebook Ads (although it works for getting more “likes”)
They ran an ad in BUMP magazine – a magazine for pregnant women that thousands of OB and peds offices subscribe to. (We hope they see a payoff for this soon!)
Order Fulfillment, Inventory, & Staying Organized
Sandy and Paul fulfill all the orders from the website themselves. Some of their products are selling on Amazon, so fortunately those items are fulfilled there.
SpenceBaby has an excellent inventory system built into their website, and beyond that Sandy uses OfficeOnline and OneDrive so she has access to her excel and word docs whenever she needs them.
She uses Trello to make lists and organize her workflow.
Even Go-getters have Low Points
Sandy confesses that her lowest points are when she allows the fear of failure to take over. When she starts to wonder, “what if this doesn’t work?” she knows she’s keeping herself from simply doing the work that needs to be done.
Her husband Paul sometimes believes in her more than she believes in herself, and he pushes her to be better, work harder, and helps her when she’s feeling overwhelmed.
(Many of the other mom entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed talk about the importance of having their husband as a business partner and/or huge supporter of them. Having that extra support can make a huge difference!)
Making this Muddled World a Better Place…
Sandy’s favorite quote:
What is the use of living if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone. ~ Winston Churchill
The ABC Expo
The ABC Expo (All Baby and Child) is the largest trade show for kids and baby in the world, and Sandy and Paul almost didn’t get in!
After first learning about the Expo, they realized that they had already missed the application deadline. Not easily deterred, they reached out to the expo and just asked, “Is it too late? We’re a new company and we’d love to be a part of this.”
Someone from the expo responded back and let them in!
Sandy reported back to us that the expo resulted in some great orders and lots of potential new clients. Congrats to you two!
Below are some photos of their booth at the expo. Isn’t it incredible?
Stay in touch with Sandy and SpenceBaby!
What do you think? Is there a problem you encounter every day that you can solve? Do you see a gaping hole in the marketplace that a product you develop could fill?
Let's chat in the comments!