Entrepreneur, mother and BRIKA fan, Molly Fienning is one of the Co-Founders of the trendsetting children’s sunglasses brand, Babiators. In less than two years, Molly and her partners have taken Babiators to over 1000 stores in 25 countries worldwide, including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Harrod's, Nordstrom, and Diapers.com.[caption id="attachment_1674" align="aligncenter" width="300"] How amazing are these?![/caption]
Babiators has developed a devoted celebrity fan-base, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Garner, Mariah Carey, Hilary Duff, Giuliana Rancic, and Neil Patrick Harris. Babiators was also recently named ‘Best New Company’ of 2012 by Earnshaw’s Magazine.
To kick off our new series about celebrating entrepreneurial successes, Molly shares with us a few highs and lows she has exerienced along her Babiators journey. - Jen[caption id="attachment_1643" align="aligncenter" width="513"] These glasses have made fashion statements on some of the most famous babes in Hollywood.[/caption]
Success #1: A Happy Entrepreneur
I am proud to be a female entrepreneur, to be someone who took a risk and started a fun, successful new business. As a mother to my one-year-old son, Sawyer, I am grateful to Babiators for the opportunity to work hard yet still be flexible and present with Sawyer throughout the day. Entrepreneurship and small business afford women and mothers the ability to pursue their passions and careers while remaining sensitive to their own or their family’s schedule.
A number of my female friends have recently started rockstar new businesses, putting their huge potential towards something they care about. It is so inspiring to watch these businesses flourish. I personally feel very content (and yes, definitely busy) in this toggle between work and family, and to me, that is success for our business, too.
Success #2: Engaged Customers
Our Babiators customers have become enthusiastic, interactive and excited brand ambassadors. I feel this is one of Babiators’ greatest successes to date. Tens of thousands of new parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends purchase Babiators for the babies in their lives, then share photos of these kids in our shades on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and other social media. The pics are always adorable and you can’t help but giggle, like or share them too!
When launching Babiators, I read Chris Brogan’s and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents about the importance of connecting authentically online, which has really guided how we communicate at Babiators with our customers and fans. I highly recommended Trust Agents for anyone starting or considering a new business because, as we know, the tech/media revolution is real and here.
Success #3: Locate a Gap...then Fill It
When creating Babiators, we addressed a great need in the children’s eyewear space — namely, fashionable high-quality sunglasses for kids that are affordable for everyone, don’t break and are safe for little eyes and skin. While other children’s sunglasses brands existed before Babiators, they were not bringing together these different yet important qualities in one stylish and memorable package.
Babiators fit into a sweet spot for many retailers, which is why we moved quickly from 1 to 100 stores in just 12 weeks and are now selling in over 1000 stores worldwide in under two years of sales, including Neiman Marcus, Harrod’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.
If you want to build a new business, create a product or service that is missing in an existing field of your interest (better yet, a new field outright!). I think it is far easier to take the lead in a new space than to play catch up behind an industry leader. Ask yourself: Where is the best place, the overlooked yet potentially quite profitable gap, for you to add your value?
Challenge: Close Friends as Colleagues
When building a startup, the founder team is truly integral to its success. Working with friends whom you trust and whose company you enjoy is a real blessing. My partners were (and still are) two of my closest friends (and my husband, of course, is my best friend!). But everyone has a distinct personality, and these differences can pop up as minor stressors or tensions from time to time in the various ways we handle stress, change or feedback. If we didn’t address these minor tensions, they might bubble up to become bigger issues.
So, before launching Babiators, all four of us took the Myers-Briggs personality test to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to most effectively interact with one another in an entrepreneurial setting. We now check in at regular board meetings, to recognize any notable achievements we've met by working well together and prevent anything negative from festering for too long.
We also schedule at least one weekend away each year for the four of us to connect solely as friends, no talk of Babiators allowed. Keeping our friendships strong is incredibly important to us, regardless of what happens on the business side.
Babiators sell for $20 per pair, and can be purchased in retail stores or online at www.babiators.com. And just because we love you, buy your Babiators online with a special 15% off coupon code "BRIKA" until this Sunday, March 24th!