When we set out to create the Mommy Mailbox Limited Collection, a care package for new and expecting mothers was a must-have for all three of us. Our goal was to create a combination of products that mothers would use over and over again and feel beautiful and confident while incorporating these items into their lives. The Solly Baby Wrap hit our checklist on every level for the Born for This gift box, from the product itself to the inspiring mission behind the company. We sat down with Solly Baby founder Elle Rowley to talk about motherhood, running a business and life on the road as her family embarks on a new adventure in Oregon.
Tell us about the early days of Solly Baby? How have things changed since then?
In the beginning my husband was still in school and I was pregnant with our second child, our first being two years old at the time. I had used several carriers with my first and, although I loved wearing her, they all left me with headaches and neck pain. I set out to make myself a wrap style carrier that was more comfortable and that I was excited to wear. In the process of making this wrap and testing out fabrics, I made it much lighter weight and more compact than other wraps on the market. Not being super familiar with wraps at the time, I honestly didn’t know I’d done anything that different until my friends started asking me to make them one as well. So I bought my first serger on Craigslist and went to work during naptime.
Now, four and a half years later, my husband works with me full-time, we have a small handful of employees, and we’ve grown into a multi-million dollar business. More than that, our product has a positive influence on the lives of mothers and fathers all over the world. We feel so incredibly blessed to do what we do.
What has been your biggest success since starting Solly Baby?
Feeling connected to our community is my #1 goal and it's so validating when I hear from our customers that they love our brand. Kindness and thoughtfulness is our mission. We get to be a part of one of the most special times in life and we want to make that experience as beautiful as possible through a gorgeous product and interaction with our team.
The babywearing trend is in full force these days. What makes your wraps different?
We believe that parents and caregivers shouldn't have to sacrifice their individuality when they welcome a new baby into their lives. We know that a baby product shouldn't be one size fits all, especially one that you have to wear. So we work hard to embrace the colors of the season by offering our customers a wide variety of fashion-forward styles without sacrificing comfort and functionality. All of our production is in the United States, which is really important in overseeing the quality and staying connected with our suppliers. And, lastly, our fabrics are everything. If you've ever held one, you know what I'm talking about.
What do you want your kids to remember about you running your business?
I hope my children forget some of the chaos and, instead, remember the feeling that the sky is the limit. That you can make your life what you want it to be. You don't have to wait for it to come to you and you don't have to accept someone else's definition or expectation of what your life should be. You can create it. Running a business gives you that power.
What tips do you have to separate family time and work time?
I'm no authority on this subject, but these are a few things I remind myself. Stay organized. Ask for help when you need it and don't feel bad about it. Try to find your flow with both and let go of what you didn't get done.
As I answer this question, I'm on my laptop in bed with my 6 and 4 year old as they are falling asleep. Jared has been out of town for the last week so I've been working crazy hours. Instead of feeling guilty about this multi-tasking, I'm trying to learn to be grateful that I'm with them instead of sitting in an office somewhere.
We love that you get to work with your husband. What is your favorite part about working with him? What’s the most challenging part?
Date night is almost always a tax write-off! Ha! But, really, we talk so much about the business together, which is the best thing and can be challenging when you're trying to mentally take a break from thinking about it. Still, I wouldn't trade it. Jared is pretty much the other half of my brain at this point. And he's the most endlessly optimistic and generous person you'll ever meet. He's always been the other half of this business, even before we technically started working together.
Tell us about your home. What tricks have you discovered to make a small space work for a family of five?
Well, right now, we are currently "displaced" as we wait for our home to close here in Oregon, but we spent a few years in a 640 square foot home in San Diego on a little plot of land. In the end, we officially outgrew it, but for the first year, it was heaven. We had to keep everything we owned to a minimum, which gave me a new appreciation for simplicity and how we look at material things. If it isn't functional and beautiful, it doesn't make the cut.
What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
I love a productive Saturday morning and a lazy afternoon with a date in the evening. And good food somewhere in there. Good food is always a must.
What advice would you give to other mamas out there starting small businesses?
It doesn't all have to be perfect today. Just do what you can and figure it out as you go. Your business will always be there, but your little ones won't always be little. So soak it up and do what you can, when you can. Moms get a full day's work done in half an hour so don't get down on yourself.
To sum it up, motherhood to you is…?
The hardest but the best thing I've ever done. Running a business is a cake walk compared to motherhood! ;)
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