As a new mom, you quickly learn what works in your day-to-day life caring for your baby— and what doesn’t. It might be that your newborn doesn’t like the nipple on their bottle, or that you need to have more than one changing station in your home. And that’s just what happened to Karin Telegadis, creator of Ah Goo Baby, a collection of products by parents and for parents. Here’s her story.
How did your career start?
When I graduated from college, I was in advertising for two years. But then I came back to New York from Los Angeles and I worked for NBC for about four years in international business development. At that point, I was traveling a lot to get the NBC brand name out there in the Asian region.
About halfway through the 5 ½ years I was at NBC, I moved out to Los Angeles to the Burbank office, which is where my direct report was. Eventually, I landed a job at Showtime, working for the president as his right hand. I was director of programming there and anything that had to with the channel, I had my hands in. It was a really great experience for me.
And it probably helped you build your future business.
Absolutely. In many ways, not only from just the creative standpoint, but to have the celebrity, press, and network contacts I had when I had my product coming out helped to get some visibility out there. It really did help me with my relationships to have that past experience to help me leverage that right. Just being able to build from the bottom up and then maintain that definitely helped for sure.
So then how did your company, Ah Goo Baby, come to be?
When I had my first daughter, well, I don’t think it’s a very unique story. It’s actually quite common, even though it seemed unique at the time, but now I’m starting to realize I’m not the only one!
I’ve heard that a few times. [laughs]
I had the baby, and I went back to work. I had a full-time nanny but I missed the baby, and I didn’t want to be at the office all the time. You start weighing what the benefits are about getting home at 7:30, when you have an infant who’s falling asleep at six. I think that was the motivation to make that transition. All of our family was back on the East Coast and we had no real ties out in L.A. Because my husband was an entertainment attorney, he had the opportunity to work from the East Coast and continue maintaining his job in L.A., where he would have to go back and forth periodically to manage his staff. We ended up in Princeton, which is where I was raised. While I was at home, I had my second child, but I just had a business brain and I wanted to keep working but something that I could do from home.
That’s how many entrepreneur moms get their start.
Right. There were a lot of moms who inspired me who were into product development and product ideas for children. I had a bunch of product ideas in my head, things that I felt were voids in the marketplace. I had a C section and I kept going up and down the stairs to change the baby. The nursery upstairs didn’t get used as much as I thought it would. So I set up this permanent changing station, which was a big foam monstrosity downstairs, and was changing the baby down there. It was just this eyesore sitting in the dining room table. I thought it’d be so cool if I could have something that not only was more comfortable for the baby but that was cushy and soft, too. I thought it’d be really nice to have something that was really comfortable for the baby that I could leave out all the time but that I could roll up and store when I had guests or throw it in my diaper bag and take it on trips with me. And I wanted it to always have this feel of the nursery no matter where I went.
At the time, there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of solo portable changing stations or pads that were geared towards the comfort of the baby. We decided to marry the memory foam, which really hadn’t been used very much at the time in baby products, and use it as a portable changing station. We wanted it to meet the needs of a baby’s tiny joints and the back of their heads. I put together the memory foam with the Minky fuzzy cover, which has a poly blend to it. Just by merit of the material itself, it repels water, so you could pour water on the top, and it’ll just bead; it won’t absorb if there’s an accident or something.
There’s also a second layer underneath the Minky that covers the memory foam, which is called taslan. It’s a sporting material that it has almost a windbreaker feel. We used the finest taslan on the market so that it wasn’t going to sacrifice the comfort and the feel of the memory foam. It functions very much like a pillow; you unzip it like a pillowcase and the memory foam comes out. You wash it with the rest of your laundry, and then you just slip it right back on again.
Now, how did you choose the designs for the covers, which are beautiful, by the way.
I think in the beginning, we were trying to complement a lot of the fabrics that were in other products so that if people wanted to create an ensemble of products, our product would match. We would do surveys amongst hundreds of moms to get their feedback, even moms all around the world because obviously we want it to be a successful product on a global level. The poppy, which has the white background with very vibrant flowers ended up being one of my favorites. We really do rely on our grassroots efforts to get feedback not only for product development but also from a promotion level.
What has the response been?
Amazing. The sales have been great and it’s just got a really great following. We have CBS as a customer who gives it as a gift to their customers, their VIPs, and their celebrity pool when they have babies.
We touched on this a little bit, but what are your plans for the future?
Our business plan is to create more comfort for the baby, and more comfort for the mother. The new products that we have coming out are going to stay along that line where they’re accessories that make life easier for the baby and for the mom. We’ve decided to put our efforts towards products that are really unique and also great gift items.
As an entrepreneur mom, it’s very easy to lose your balance. How do you maintain yours, because if you’re not thinking about your kids, you’re thinking about your business as another child.
Yep. And as your kids get to a certain age, the sport they choose ends up taking up more time than you could ever even imagine! When we did the little My Gym and the Music Together classes, you go once a week for an hour, but now, I have one daughter that’s a competitive diver, and she’s on these regional teams, and they’re diving states away. If there’s a meet, you’ll spend eight hours just to go for see your kid dive for 30 seconds, and then you’re sitting there for another eight hours just waiting to get the medal! [laughs]
I guess we’re still figuring it out. My husband is now my partner and so we’re partners in everything. Fortunately, I got married a little later in life, and after experiencing dating for a while, I was able to the enjoy our friendship and it’s very solid. We fight like the best of them, but we also don’t go to bed angry. At the end of the day, it is challenging, but we are having a great time.
When the kids are around, I really do try to focus 100% on them the second day they get off the bus. I have to be really disciplined and not get distracted by things that can be done later. The second the kids go to sleep, though, I go down to the office to work again. It has its challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.