[quote style=”boxed”]Being open-minded is key and you should never discredit any person as they could be your biggest advocate. [/quote]
Kelley Legler is a thirty one-year-old wife of Brian and mother of two, Jack and Bailey. She studied Advertising and Multimedia obtaining a BA at University Wisconsin-Whitewater. She resides in Hales Corners, Wisconsin – a suburb of Milwaukee and keeps a packed daily schedule being a Work at Home Mom. She enjoys Fall TV Lineup when Time Warner Cable doesn’t have blackout channels, Zombie related movies and shows but shuns any other horror flicks. Her guiltiest pleasure is the Disney Store, Reality TV, Celebrity mags and Fro-Yo. She cannot start her day without her Isagenix Ionix Supreme daily organic drink.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I am attempting to increase production for my business and find local talent to assist with computer engineering; creating a machine to decrease labor intensive projects. My vision is to always support local and give back to the community with projects and involvement.
Where did the idea for Baby Jack Blankets come from?
Upon my return from maternity leave with my first child Jack, I was let go from my position at a local marketing company. During a recession it was a long shot to bounce back and find a job that had meaning and brought in a significant income. Adjusting to the many demands of being a stay at home mom, my mother introduced me to the craft of sewing and ever since we have evolved. The idea for my business, Baby Jack Blankets, came from my son Jack as I noticed the him playing with his toy’s tags, especially the tag on his baby blanket.
After seeing many different products on the market, we created a tag blanket with ribbons along the edges but over the years, our product evolved into sewing them shut – creating our own design for our baby Jack blankets brand.
Baby Jack Blankets are customizable baby blankets, with a twist. While moms can choose their blanket of choice – silky satin fabric, soft and plush minky textured dots, cozy fleeces – ribbons are sewn shut, attached at the sides of the blanket. These tabs prevent tiny fingers from getting stuck in the loops while providing play, comfort and security for children. There is also a “link loop” with a NUBY toy link to attach to a carseat, stroller or baby carrier.
Babies develop cognitively, socially and emotionally through different forms of sensory play which is why we offer a variety of textures on our creations. It started as a creative outlet for me but it’s turned into a small business – a successful one, at that. My product has been picked up by stores, bloggers and publications, both locally and nationwide and we are now selling online at www.babyJackblankets.com as well via Amazon, Vault, Diapers.com and Bumblebean.
How do you make money?
I specialize in marketing and web design and offer freelance services for local clients, giving myself capital to invest in the business. My husband Brian is the bread winner of our family and supports our household while I am at home with the kids and able to follow my passion.
What does your typical day look like?
With four year old Jack and two year old Bailey, I am up by 6AM and getting the household ready for Preschool. I am grateful to have a few hours to myself on the days when I have Grandmas over and typically sew the day away or answer emails/sales calls. I employ a fantastic team of local mom as a team of seamstresses and am usually shuffling between Preschool or picking up supplies / orders from my team all before noon and without ANY caffeine in my system. By lunchtime I am able to sit down with the kids for a meal and grab a possible nap with them, awaking to some more emails / playtime / sewing in my creative studio. In the evening I engage and network with other Momprenuers via Facebook and connect with my Baby Jack Blankets community by posting sales / pictures / discussions while my husband Brian organizes and ships orders. My mini executive board of kids #CEOJack and #VPBailey then drop off orders at the Post Office with me the following day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I run instantly with my ideas and am not afraid of failure. I have tried many different approaches to add to my baby line but realized that I should just stick to what works and perfect it. I solicit feedback from friends, family and my Facebook community and I go all in with every idea that comes to me. Being open-minded is key and you should never discredit any person as they could be your biggest advocate.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Celebrity Babies motivates me to create. I know they are just people but when a public person has a baby, I like to think I can create the perfect item that matches their style/personality and get feedback from my Facebook community. So far, we have created for Giuliana and Bill Rancic, Molly Mesnick, Christie Lynn Smith, Kelly Stables, Tori Spelling, Ian Ziering, Scott Wolf, Nick Lachey, Lisa Ling, Jimmy Fallon, Jenna Bush Hager and more.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I try to take every opportunity and turn it into a key learning. Everything you do ads to your resume and is a stepping stone to where you are supposed to be. With my experience in fast food – as my very first job – I truly don’t have any insight except to learn that working with food simply wasn’t for me and to always follow your passion with tremendous effort.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would simply avoid participating in craft fairs if I could do it all over again. Selling at events for Baby Jack Blankets proved to be a waste of time and money. I discovered early on that engaging with my Facebook community and building a more online presence has truly paid off.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend that every person become familiar with web design as it can save you so much money. There are so many web templates out there that can assist with creating a modern website and I am the type of person that likes trial and error. I feel everyone should be fearless in exploring this evolving medium as there is always an undo button. This is one of the reasons why I offer freelance services in marketing / web design to assist other small businesses in saving money when creating a fantastic website.www.babyJackblankets.com is created and maintained by myself.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have the mentality that things happen for a reason. When a sale doesn’t come through, it’s a door opening to another lead that will bring more business and opportunity. Having that state of mind has allowed me to live the entrepreneur life of no regrets. One obstacle that I had to overcome was patent infringement issues early on when starting our business. A large baby brand company owns the patent for 2+ ribbon loops along the edge of fabrics which devastated us thinking that we are complete with our brand. After thinking thoroughly and different beta tests in product, we created a unique design that sews shut all of the ribbon loops into “tabs” providing a safer and secure sensory accent for babies. We are now the #1 competitor to that baby brand.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Wine2Go – people need wine instantly and when an entrepreneur is that committed to her job, she needs wine to influence others to come to her house and help with inventory.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I am very passionate about raising awareness for childhood cancer; specifically a rare brain cancer AT/RT that local Milwaukee girl Hailey Roser battles. My kids and I donated a blanket to a fundraiser and ran into Hailey and mother Sabrina. After learning more about Healing Hailey, I donated my design and social media skills by creating a website that helps with funding for the family and communicating with Healing Hailey facebook fans selling merchandise, organizing events and donating sales. The one thing I would change in the world is to find a cure for cancer. Nobody, especially children, should suffer from this horrible disease. To help raise awareness on childhood brain cancer AT/RT, visit www.HealingHailey.org.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I am a closet Harry Potter fan who can name over 127 characters from the entire series…after two Leinenkugals Summer Shandys.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
My s go to place and forum for support, advice and venting is the MENtors and MOMtors Facebook group for entrepreneurs. Here is a place where men and women in the retail product industry get together to discuss best practices, events and collaborate on marketing opportunities. After learning about the successes others have had in this group, I was introduced to FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) which assists with marketing her product and shipping to paid consumers. Another tool that I find is a must for businesses is Instagram. Having this tool to post on Twitter and Facebook saves time and it is easy to connect with celebrities, stores and bloggers.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
- @FaveMom – she gives great confidence to newbies in this industry
- @JoelOsteen – truly inspirational quotes
- @AaronRodgers12 – because he is great at what he does and doesn’t complain
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
@MommyShorts is my go-to laugh out loud baby snark genius.
Who is your hero, and why?
I look up to my mother in law and business partner Nancy Legler of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Nancy Legler has been a huge asset from the conception of Baby Jack Blankets as well as the voice of reason behind decisions. My mother in law is the most selfless human being that I know and Baby Jack’s number one fan. She has given her heart and soul to the company and I will forever be grateful for all she has done for me personally and professionally.
Would you sell your company?
I think that anything is possible and will be entertained by offers. Call me Mark Cuban!
What does being a mom inventor mean to you?
I receive validation from seeing my own two kids attached to my creations as well as others post pictures on my Facebook community. By being able to showcase the passion and love into every item that I ship out, I am showcasing how to truly love what you are doing – to my kids, my family, friends and the world since Baby Jack Blankets keeps on growing.
Email: [email protected]
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.