Colleen Mook started her business after she had her first child. She’s faced some tough challenges, but kept going and now has a very successful business. Read her inspiring story below.
What motivated you to start your business?
I always knew that I would have my own business as I grew up in an entrepreneurial family yet I wasn’t sure what it would be until after the birth of my first daughter, Molly. I was not planning to go back to my corporate america job but knew I wanted to do something after being a stay at home mom for 9 months. I needed more than playgroups and cleaning up after the baby and the house. I was so proud of my daughter and the name that we had chosen that I wanted her name on everything and that is why I started Baby Be Hip. It started with our personalised baby burp cloths. All babies spit up, let’s let them spit up in style. My daughter was always spitting up so I always had several burp cloths with me but I wanted this essential item to showcase her name and match her outfit–hence the birth of our personalised baby burp cloths–still a best seller almost 10 years later.
Tell us about your business
Baby Be Hip is a web based retailer headquartered out of Horsham, PA in a 2000 sq foot facility. We sell personalised baby gifts that are fun, functional and fabulous and of course personalised.
What started with a single product has since grown into multiple products including burp cloths, bibs, hooded towels, buckets, ceramics, etc. The common thread is that we highlight the baby’s name.
Parents think long and hard about the perfect name for their baby and we have found that our customers can send these great baby gifts without a whole lot of work (all they need is the baby’s name) and then they receive these awesome thank you notes. Who doesn’t want to be remembered for sending a great baby gift?
At Baby Be Hip we really strive to leave our customers and recipients smiling. Our goal at Baby Be Hip is to, “always leave you smiling.” We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service. I especially love getting to know my customers from over the years. It really is a happy business and for that I’m thankful.
What is a day in the life of you like?
Crazy good could best describe most of my days. But I love it like this and have always said that I do thrive in organised chaos. Besides running Baby Be Hip, I have four little kids that need me so I would say my day begins with getting the kids up and off to school (the older 3) and then it is me and my assistant vice president, Delaney, my 16 month old that charges forward with me depending on the day. I usually take her to work as I have a playroom there and a pack n play for her but have found that she has become a walking tornado so I have started to have a babysitter a little more often so I can get some things done uninterrupted. Once I get to the Baby Be Hip shop, I wear many hats. I am there if any of the girls have questions on really anything, I am there to make sure that our high quality workmanship is the norm. I am then always out of the shop by 3pm so I can get home for the kids. But with the advances in technology, I am accessible all the time. With an IPhone in my pocket all the time, I can respond to customers at all hours of the day. I think that has really served Baby Be Hip well over the years.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
For me the biggest challenges have been raising a family and all that comes with that while also raising another baby, my company. I was doing just fine after baby #1 & #2 and the business was growing slowly on it’s on and it was a great balance and then in 2005, I had my 3rd baby who was born with severe special needs. My life changed dramatically overnight. For the first three years of her life, she was very sick, had multiple surgeries (heart surgery, many many hip surgeries, etc). As a result, my attention was on my daughter. I had friends and great employees that really stepped up with Baby Be Hip but my heart wasn’t in it. How could it be? But here we are and she is now six, she is in “kindergarten” she is relatively healthy yet still many challenges (non-verbal, non-ambulatory) but she is a love and she has taught me so much.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I overcame my greatest challenge with my business of finding great help when I could not be there to make sure things were being done as if I was there. I have learned that hiring the “right” people is so critical.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Do not be afraid. Go for it. Just Do It. Collaborate with other like minded individuals. Be cooperative versus competitive. Network and find trusted friends that you can talk shop with.
Remember the customer is always right and it is imperative that your employees know your values and the values you want your business to conveyKnow that you will have tough times in business as in life but just hold on, it will get better.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I have my vision board that I look at when I need a pick me up. I play upbeat music that I love, it always makes me smile.
What’s your favourite quote?
Be Yourself but Be Your Best Self!
Who inspires you?
Nell Merlino, founder of Count Me In and M31000. She gave me the confidence and tools to believe in myself and take my business to the next level.
My daughter, Ellie (with special needs), does as well. She has a tough life–I do not. She keeps going (she has no choice, her Mommy pushes her) despite all of her challenges and is generally happy. How can that inspire one?
And of course, my Mom and Dad who taught me everything I know.
Do you have a business philosophy?
Just Do It. Give, give, get.
Get in touch with Colleen…