Last time we told you all about what we love about Beluga Baby and today we get to share our interview with Beluga Baby’s founder, Haley Campbell.
What is the story behind Beluga Baby?
Haley: I had my daughter three and a half years ago and before that I was working advertising and marketing in various different disciplines; I worked for a direct marketing agency for a while and I worked a couple non profit jobs, lived in Australia for a while, but when I had Sawyer and I went on maternity leave I started making my own baby wraps. I had tried other wraps and they were good but there were things that I found that were lacking from each of them. So, ‘I thought I’ll make my own’. Usually you end up having kids at the same time as your peer group so I made some for friends and then I thought ‘well with my background in advertising why not see if I can make it into into a company’. I worked while my baby slept instead of sleeping which was a recipe for a lot of postpartum depression and anxiety. I didn’t even realize it was happening to me at the time, I just thought it was normal motherhood, but it was insane sleep deprivation and a lot of pressure on myself. I launched the company when my baby was 5 months old. It went really slowly at first, I had no expectations for it and I didn’t put a lot of money into it. I borrowed about two and a half thousand dollars from family members for start up costs for my logo design, my website design, my first order of fabric, and my first round of products filled. They [the wraps] have always been made here in Vancouver so it was a bit more expensive than manufacturing overseas. I grew organically and I was quite experienced with social media so I learned quickly how to find influencers and work with influencers which was my biggest help with my organic growth. At the time it was really cool because there was a group of women between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley who were all were starting baby companies at the same time: Little More Shop, Baby Deluxe, Glitter & Spice, Tattrd Threads, Remzo and other I’m forgetting. We ended up with this group of 15 of us who met on Instagram and built this WhatsApp group chat and it gone insane because by the end of the day you would look at it and there would be like 1,250 messages to get through. We were all excited that we’re all starting these brands at the exact same time and we all helped each other out. Like if someone found it influencer who is really effective they would tell everyone else about it. That’s how I connected with Jillian Harris, I got all my friends with brands and we built this awesome basket for her and Leo. We all helped each other and it was a really cool experience. Some of the companies are not in existence anymore, some kept it little, and some are big national business is now. My friend Amanda rebranded Baby Deluxe to So Luxury; they have a whole Factory in Mission now. With their help and my background in marketing the company grew painfully slow, but enough that by the time my maternity was over I didn’t have to go back to work.
When you started Beluga Baby what was your goal?
Haley: I had no goal. I was just like ‘okay I’ll see if I can do it and see how it goes.’
Kyle: Now what is your goal for Beluga Baby?
Haley: I would love to get to a point where I can have a nice office with people that I enjoy working with where I can go on vacation and other people can keep the company running for me. It’s still just me; I’m the only one who works at Beluga Baby. I have a seamstress and I have a couple some contractors to help me with AdWords and SEO, and a website programmer but essentially it’s still just me, I package up all the boxes and do all that. So yeah I would love it to be something that serves me instead of the other way around and there is a plan.
What was the hardest thing starting out?
Haley: Other than the classic you work all the time and you also have a new baby, so I’m working literally 24 hours a day, plus my daughter never slept through the night until she was a year and a half until I weaned her. That was probably the hardest thing. Also, at about the 2-year mark, my husband quit his job because he wanted a change in careers, so while he was transitioning he worked for me for about 6 months and it was fine but it was good when he went back to work for both of us. He still will come to the office and pack boxes for me, or pack boxes for me when I’m super busy.
Looking back on where you were and where you are now, what are you most proud of?
Haley: the fact that it is still growing, we’re projected to be 70% over where we were last year. I have a 4 year business plan that is laid out and at that point it should be where I have a really nice office and employees.
Beluga Baby designs and makes everything here in Vancouver, where is your fabric sourced from?
Haley: Our fabric is sourced from overseas as most bamboo fabric is. There is one bamboo mill in Canada that has fabric, they are in Ontario and they are very very expensive. Even at our quantities, if we were to switch our cost would double and it’s already priced as a luxury items. What we do do is work with fabrics that are all Oeko-Tex certified which means that all of the dying process and everything is environmentally sustainable and bamboo itself is an environmentally sustainable fabric.
Have you been over to where your fabric is being sourced?
Haley: No, we use a middleman and they provide us with all the information that we need but I will be going over to China in the next 6 months, which is kind of intimidating. There’s so much I need to find out and so much information I need to do my own research on so that I can go over there and be responsible with the decisions that I make and not just be like ‘I don’t know anything so it’s not a problem,’ you can’t do business like that, you have to ask the tough questions.
This summer Beluga Baby launched a very special product, the Reid and Rhett wrap, what was it like launching that product with such an important story behind it?
Haley: A lot of tears. It was a lot of time, me and Emma, met in very unfortunate circumstances. We had babies within weeks of each other, but hers was stillborn at 40 weeks. We reconnected when she was pregnant with Everett who is a year and a half or two now. We spent a long time developing this wrap; the amount of types of rainbows I’ve looked at, I have hundreds of drafts. I went rainbow crazy for a while, but we’re really proud of how it looks. It’s hard to get a rainbow that is also cool looking. So, when that came out, we spent a lot of time up front working with influencers to get everyone talking about it on the same day and it was the first time I’ve ever launched anything with any kind of plan. Usually, I’m just like “…and we have a new product!” because you don’t have any time because you have a kid. This product was special and we wanted it to have the weight behind it that it deserved. So, that launched and just to see the orders roll in on the first day and for people to share their stories with me and with Emma, we eventually talked to each other and said we could only read our direct messages once per day because so many women, let’s be honest it’s all women writing in, have so many stories and they’re all similar and they’re all so different and they need to be read and acknowledged but it’s just a lot to take in when you’re reading them all day long. There are these women who have never had a place where they can talk about it. The photoshoot in the field, you’ll see a lot of those photos, those are all mothers and one grandmother who have a connection to loss. The grandmother lost her son Adam, stillborn at 40 or so weeks, but back then you don’t talk about it really, so she was there with her daughter and her daughter’s new baby son who is also named Adam after her brother. Chills, right? So the grandma wore her grandson for the photoshoot named after her son that she lost. There are all sorts of different types of loss stories too, like Sky, she’s the one with the little Japanese baby, she’s blonde and totally not Japanese, but she adopted her daughter from Japan, had the baby home with them for several days, was breastfeeding and then the birth mom changed her mind so they had to go back and give the baby back. That’s a type of loss you can’t talk about because she’s alive and doing well she’s just not in their life anymore. It was cool because she was wearing her 5 month old adopted daughter and she was also 5 months pregnant at the time. You asked earlier about what I was proud about, I think being able to tell a story like that and have it connect and mean something to someone other than just a business that makes money.
As a business owner, how do you feel about the second hand market?
Haley: It’s cool. It’s actually on my list of things to do this month, to make a Buy, Sell, Trade, page. Yes, no problem, go, buy second hand. I think it’ll make the community bigger, make the name bigger, you gotta think long term, right? I might miss out on a couple dollars today but more people will get to try it. The only thing that I would worry about is that, we do a lot of limited editions, and there is a lot of carrier Buy, Sell, Trade pages so if people sell it for more than they bought it for I don’t know how I feel about that.
What kind of criticisms or negativity has Beluga Baby faced?
Haley: Obviously I try really hard to be diverse and welcome all types of families and background to the babywearing community. So, I’ve had people who write in and say “there’s no one how look like me on your website” and that’s hard because where we live only has certain amounts of ethnicities and then you’re also looking for a new mom, when you’re doing a photoshoot, with a baby under 6 months old who is available at this time with like 2 seconds notice because that’s how I roll. It was a super valid thing that they were concerned about, having women of colour, people of colour on the website. At that point, it was like 2 out of 12 on the website were women of colour, but none specifically that represented this one minority. You can only do so much, right? But at our next photoshoot we made sure it was more diverse. There are other little ones I won’t mention, but people assume we’re a big company a lot, which is a compliment because it means I’m doing a good job at my marketing and social media,l but ots of times people are surprised when they find out it’s just me doing it.
Kyle: I didn’t know, I thought you had at least one person helping you out.
Samantha: I was very surprised, it’s funny because I messaged you once and you responded right away and I thought, “who is responding that fast?”
Haley: Oh it’s just me, it drives my husband crazy because I’m always on Instagram.
What does the future of Beluga Baby look like?
Haley: Oh, very exciting, the fall collection is out, which is 6 new colours. Then in the next year, we’re prototyped already, I already met with the manufacturer, we’re coming out with a buckle carrier for larger babies like 6 months to 3 years. The weight range will be 15-60 pounds.
Kyle: That was our big issue because both of our kids were massive and we needed a little bit more support.
Haley: I’m really excited about the buckle carrier, that’s a whole other beast because we can’t get them made in Vancouver, but we still want to get them made in either Canada or the US and they’re going to be made from either hemp or linen. The prototypes are beautiful, they’re so soft, so excited.
How much of your success do you attribute to your skill, abilities, and hard work and how much of it was due to luck?
Haley: I don’t think any of it was luck. It was a market that already had products in it. I’m sorry, that might have sounded so egotistical but I don’t think that a lot of people could do it especially at the time of life that I did it with a new baby. That being said, I totally could not have done it without my husband; I would have ended up in the hospital or something. It wasn’t luck but it wasn’t just me, it was me plus my husband, plus my family, plus this network of ladybosses that I connected with, it was a village for sure but I don’t think any of it was luck.
We want to give a final huge thank you to Haley from Beluga Baby for spending time with us to do this interview and providing a swaddle for our Instagram giveaway.
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Never stop adventuring!