When I started up this section called ‘Ventures’ the first person I thought of was my friend Cecilia. Some people just seem to be able to do it all. And effortlessly. I admire both Cecilia and her husband Alessandro, who just seem to have it all under control. And that’s with 3 kids under the age of 5 and a booming business to run! They still manage to invite us over for lunch parties, dinner parties, and show no sign of stress (I stress over the tiniest little things all the time). And they have the most amazing family life and manage to dedicate so much time and love to their 3 little kids. When I see them, I always feel like anything is possible. So nice to be around such positive and encouraging people.
Cecilia and Alessandro started MiaMily, a baby carrier business, while they were looking for the perfect baby carrier for their 2 young kids at the time. Here is my Q&A with Cecilia:
Q: Where did the name ‘MiaMily’ come from?
The name Milamily came from our 2 daughters Mia and Emily. The funny thing was we came up with the name even before we were having a second child. Emily was our second girl name choice, and we decided to combine it, and we just hoped that if we had a second child it would be a girl. Now that we have a 3rd child Noah, we are trying to figure out how to incorporate his name into the business so we are fair!
Q: How did you come up with the Hipster concept and how did you go about designing this product? How does your product differ from all the other baby carriers out there?
I was a hormonal pregnant woman and obsessed with buying the right baby gear for the baby because in my mind picking the right stroller and carrier was what determined how good of a parent you were. So I was especially interested in baby carriers and even made Alessandro come with me to the baby shops and test out the baby carriers with stuffed dolls. When Mia arrived I was always carrying her to the point that I pinched a nerve in my back. I tried many different types of carriers but none took way the back pain. Luckily my family business is in manufacturing and I asked my uncle who lives in China to source me a baby carrier factory, and we started making prototypes. It was solely for our personal use initially, but we then often got stopped on the street by people asking what brand it was, and thats when we realised we had something special, and the idea of turning it into a business started from there.
Our carrier is different from the traditional carrier because we have a built in 3D hip seat which ensures that the baby's hips are also in the correct M position ideal for hip development and hip dysplasia prevention. We also have the biggest storage in the market, allowing parents to store all their baby necessities and not have to leave the house with the diaper bag.
Q: You are a dynamic husband and wife duo. How is it working so closely together?
(big laugh...) 'let me see how to phrase this delicately...... working together was a very natural choice because at the time I was a desperate stay at home mom, looking for my next venture, and Alessandro has always had a very entrepreneur spirit so it all just fell into place and was a natural progress. To say it was challenging would be an understatement as we have very different working styles, not to go into detail, one of our worst arguments ended with 'I'd rather save the marriage then continue on with the business’. That being said, we work very very well together now because we made sure we separated our responsibilities in the company so they don’t overlap. Alessandro is in charge of sales, production and finance, and I am in charge of product design, marketing and customer service. I wished we had figured that out earlier, would have saved many tears and frustration but we are stronger now as a couple because of it.
Q: I know you have just had your 3rd child. How is it running such a successful start-up while having 3 kids under the age of 5!
I know in a few years I'll look back at this time fondly but if I had to explain my life in one word, I would pick "survival". There's no doubt life with 3 young kids can be very hectic and overwhelming. We are very lucky that we have a lot of help from our parents and our nanny. Since we work for ourselves, we are able to schedule our work around family events so I am proud to say that Alessandro has never missed a single doctor's appointment for any of the kids!
Q: In which countries have you found yourself to be most successful, and what are your plans for the future in terms of which markets to enter?
The US market is our biggest market because parents really embrace new products and are very open to online shopping.
Q: I know you launched on Kickstarter back in 2014, how was your experience, and do you have any tips for other entrepreneurs considering crowd funding?
Going on Kickstarter was the best decision we ever made as a startup. We wanted to raise USD25,000 and in 30 days we sold 600 carriers totalling in USD72,000 to 33 countries. I recommend Kickstarter to every start up, because it's risk free. Not only do you get capital to fund your first production, the free global exposure you receive is priceless. We did a second kickstarter campaign last year and this time, we raised USD180,000 and received 1,100 pre-orders. The exposure on Kickstarter is just not something you can do on your own.
Q: Any plans to diversify your product?
We want to establish ourselves as a 3D baby carrier brand but we are planning to come out with a toy hipster for toddlers to wear their dolls..