Interview With Kathryn Johnson Wiley From Rockin’ Baby

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 16.58.23Tell us a bit about Rockin’ Baby

Well I am American but own Rockin’ Baby with my UK business partner, Mark Jeynes who I met at a kids trade show in New York almost 3 years ago now. He has a really well-established kidswear background and loved what I was doing with the slings and pouches I was selling. For every item sold we donated a new sling to mothers in Haiti and Kenya and he felt, with me, that as a business model that could work brilliantly on kidswear. Nobody else is doing it in the world. We literally make and donate a new item of clothing for every item we sell. We total how many units we sell each season and ask the charity we work with (ChildFund International) what they would like to have made from our ‘hero collection’ which is everything a baby and child might need in life. We are only in our third season but already in 23 countries! The thirst for what we are doing and our designs is overwhelming. By this time next year we will have donated 1/4 million pieces of clothing!

What inspired you to set up the business?

I was looking for a business that I could be passionate about, and also scale into a global brand. I bought a brand called Rockin’ Baby Sling and I immediately took the sling off the name in order to expand the collection and brand. I had 4 kids at the time and wore them all in the Rockin’ Baby sling. I loved it and felt beautiful in the textiles they had presented. When the company went for sale, I was looking for an opportunity, and this was a perfect fit!

Tell us about your Spring/Summer 2015 collection

The collection is bigger and brighter and how we see ourselves going forward. Autumn/Winter 15 was a great start but just to get us off the ground. Spring/Summer 16 has more in the older kids collection, we have UV protection swimwear, rainwear with matching wellies and some stunning dresses. One of the best sellers is our most expensive item the Esme dress – its just stunning – but when I say expensive its still only £32! Our prices are great value bearing in mind the design, quality and one for one giving. We have worked really hard to bring unique, fun, bright designs to parents at sensible prices and in comfortable quality fabrics.

 

Tell us about your ‘Mother to Mother’ and ‘Chid to Child’ mission

When we started the company and were just selling slings and pouches we decided to call the part of our business where we give one for every one sold ‘Mother to Mother’. If someone buys a product from us and we donate one then that mother really is helping another mother by using a Rockin’ Baby product.

When we started early discussions about adding kidswear and knew we would be repeating the very same one for one business model, we decided to call that part of our giving ‘Child to Child’. For every item you buy your child you will be helping another child around the world.

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How has the business grown and developed over the years?

The business has grown really well over the past 5 years… we have about 25 employees and our revenue has grown 7 times from the first year. We are super excited about where Rockin’ Baby is heading!

Have you got any new developments in the pipeline?

We are constantly looking to see what we need to add to the range – its important we listen to our customers and retailers – also the more we add and sell the more we can give away! So for Autumn/Winter 16 we have significantly increased our outerwear and rainwear collections – we now offer poly or down filled snowsuits! We have also added a lot more knitwear and a beautiful range of stunning party dresses for older girls. We have Christmas and Halloween covered and everything has co-ordinated knitted accessories!

Where do you see the business in 5 years time?

I see Rockin’ Baby as being known as the brand that gives in the Baby/Child space. I also see us as competing with the major fashion brands for designs/shapes of our clothing.

What have been the biggest challenges?

Quick growth has been the biggest challenge for us. Managing the growth steadily, while keeping up with our needs internally.

What do you find the most rewarding?

For me, the most rewarding part of the business is to know that THE MORE WE SELL, THE MORE WE CAN GIVE!

What have you learnt from running your own business?

I have been self-employed for 15 years. Though it seems wonderful to have your own schedule, the reality is that you are never off of the clock. You are the one that has to stay in the loop, and ensure that the company has what it needs to grow.

How do you balance running a business and being a mum?

Like all mums, this is a struggle. I think we all go through an identity crisis and try to find who we are with kids, much less a business. I am working on this area of life, but it gets easier every year the kids get older!

What would your advice be to another mum thinking about setting up their own business?

Absolutely…PUT FAMILY FIRST!

You can view the full Rockin’ Baby collection at www.rockinbaby.com

 

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