Mom of 2 Invents a New Baby Product in Her Dreams
The idea for Hugga-Bébé came to Kimberly Davis in two very vivid dreams. First she dreamed about her nephew being swallowed up by his activity center, then the next night she dreamed about exactly how to create a product that would help support him properly. By day three, Kimberly, who had never sewn before, had a prototype ready to test on her nephew -- and it worked.
That was in 2007, and after a year of making the product herself, the mom of 2, who had previously worked in the automotive industry building school buses and wiring up their engines, found a manufacturer overseas that could mass produce her product. Now, Hugga-Bébé, a support system for children 4 months through toddler years for use in activity centers, jumpers, walkers, high chairs and more, is sold online and in specialty stores and gift shops.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma, mom recently won second place in StartUp Nation's Leading Moms in Business competition, and she loves the positive feedback pouring in from moms and dads that use her product to help their children sit more comfortably and confidently.
Here's how she made her dream a reality...
How did you get the idea for your product?
I started this company because of a dream I had in March 2007. I had a Nephew who had trouble sitting in his activity center. He, just like my kids, would fall over because the seats are way too big. That night, after I left my sister-in-law's house, I had a dream that my nephew was being swallowed up by his activity center. In my dream I came up with the idea for Hugga-Bébé.
The next morning I told my husband about this silly dream I had and I tried to draw most of what I could remember out on paper. We both laughed, and I threw the paper away. The following night I had another dream, this time of how to sew, stuff and measure this product to make it fit in all of these things. The next morning I jumped up and grabbed a cup of coffee and a pencil and paper. This time I could see the idea so much better and I really could draw it out.
Later that day my husband went to work and I took one of our daughters to school. I started picking up the house when I ran across the drawing on the kitchen table. I stood there and said "I can do this." I snatched up our other daughter and we went to my sister-in-law's to get the activity center. I ran to the fabric store and bought what I needed and ran over to a friend’s house and picked up a sewing machine, though I'd never sewn before.
I measured out the seat and started making Hugga-Bébé, working until 4 a.m., thinking to myself how crazy I was. I took our daughter to school the next day and called my sister-in-law and asked her to bring my nephew over so he could try out this thing I made. I put him in the Hugga-Bébé and it worked! It was Brilliant!
What process did you follow to determine your product’s marketability?
I called day cares in the Tulsa area and asked them to fill out a market research form to see if I did have a need. All of the reviews came back positive.
What process did you follow to find a manufacturer?
I was lucky enough to find a person in California that had wonderful connections with overseas manufacturing and went that route. They sent me prototypes until I was happy, and then I ordered product from them.
Were there any setbacks in product development that had to be overcome?
Yes. The stuffing is very important to the shape of the product. It's a fine line to get the right amount of stuffing to make the product look good and function great. The factory that makes the product weighs each one to make sure it's perfect.
What was the biggest learning curve in terms of developing your product?
I come from a background of working in a sweat shop for a living. I did not know anything about pricing, cold calling, reps, package design, insert placement...there has been a learning curve throughout the whole process.
What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing?
Sending your products in for a review from major bloggers gives great publicity. I have also been lucky enough to have won several awards, including ones from iParenting Media, PTPA Media, Creative Child Magazine Top Choice Award 2009, and WTS toy review 5 stars. They have given me great publicity.
How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner and mom?
I am a super busy mom and sometimes I feel as though I'm pulled in many different directions. I still spend time with my kids, but before I would have all the time in the world to run to the park or run around and play with them, and now I have to spend a lot of time tending to the business. We also eat out a little more than before because I will work up until the last minute and then it's late, so takeout is just easy. I wish I could clone myself and have time for everything, but it's not possible.
How did you finance your business ?
We were lucky enough to have our house paid off, so we mortgaged it. In total, we have invested a little over $100,000, including patents, trademarks, manufacturing, and other added expenses. We feel great about this investment as without a doubt this will be a multimillion dollar company.
Our financial picture is good. We project that in about 2 years the company will earn a little over $3 million in profit and just continue to grow from that.
What advice would you offer other moms developing their ideas?
Live your dream. At times you have to be your number one cheerleader and just do it. Look into the future and don't be scared or afraid to conquer the world. Rome wasn't built in a day and, yes, it will take time, but what else do we have? Live life to the greatest and when you're old and you look back, think about the gratification you will have in knowing you did it.
Thank you for sharing your story, Kimberly! If you have a great story to share, we'd love to hear it!
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