The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
Gary: My first child and daughter, Camden, was my inspiration to start endue. During my wife's pregnancy and after Camden was born, I was exposed to a lot of different baby clothing brands. There are some great brands out there, however I still felt like something was missing in children's apparel–a more modern look using soft fabrics and a brand that stood for something. As the idea for endue was forming, Camden was born and changed my world forever. During our regular trips to the pediatrician, she began to steadily decline on the baby weight curve, at one point almost falling off the curve completely. As any new father or parent would understand, this caused me to panic-I consulted with nutrition experts and researched infant nutrition and weight, reading anything I could get my hands on. All of this opened my eyes to the scope of the child hunger epidemic. Thankfully, Camden is healthy and happy and her struggles did not approach the scale of the problems children in many developing countries face-but the experience inspired me to do more. As Nate and I laid the foundation for endue, we made giving back, in the form of nutritious food, a core piece of the endue story.
Nate: For me, going through the experience of buying a baby shower gift for my cousin Nico was what inspired me to join Gary in the creation of endue. At the time, my wife and I really wanted to get a “nice” gift of baby clothing. We found some okay clothing out there, but nothing that really matched our aesthetic. Also we were really hoping for a gift that had a wow factor, after all, we knew that it was going to be opened up in front of a crowd of people and we didn't want to give something that underwhelmed. Short story, we never found it, and so when Gary approached me about starting a baby clothing company I instantly “got it”, and knew that we had an opportunity to create unique, special clothing, with a packaging story that would be sure to wow. I am really proud to say that I think we have accomplished that. We have a ton more to do of course, but it is so fun to hear from our customers about people's reactions when a gift box of endue is opened up at a baby shower. People are really amazed with the quality and the experience.
What do your kids think about your job?
Gary: Camden is only 2, so she really doesn't understand yet what's happening. She only knows I walk out the door in the morning and then I come back to play with her in the evening. Nothing beats her reaction when I come home though. I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world!
Nate: I'll have to get back to you in a couple years regarding this question, no kids yet.
Tell us about a total dad + biz fail.
Gary: Lots of business fails to choose from (though I think of them more as learning opportunities), so I'll focus on a dad fail. We were up in the mountains for the holidays and my daughter got to experience her first white Christmas. I was pulling her up a small incline while she sat in a sled. The sled was an inflatable sled designed for toddlers and had a rope attached. While I was walking, I got stuck and accidentally let go of the rope. My daughter started to go down the incline, and although it was very slight, the experience freaked her out. What made matters worse is that she was facing downhill and ended up face planting into a snow bank! She was fine but cried and cried. Needless to say, I felt pretty bad.
Nate: Oh man, well I can't tell you about a Dad fail, but I'll share with a business challenge with you. I definitely prefer the term “challenge” to “fail” because in my mind it isn't so much that there are failures, it is more that when one is “failing” it is more likely that the best strategy hasn't been figured out yet. Pivoting strategy is very important. A good example is that when Gary and I started this business we had hoped that we would be able to largely avoid selling through retail stores, we thought that our website could drive 95%+ of our business. Thankfully we pretty quickly realized that this wasn't going to happen. So much of what makes our product stand apart is the feel of the fabric. Our customers describe it as being silky smooth, and softer than any cotton that they have ever felt. As a result we learned that we needed to be on shelves for customers to feel the difference for themselves. Making this adjustment to strategy was a pretty big deal for us.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
Gary: Just like with our learning experiences, thankfully there are lots to choose from. For me, it was probably the awesome feedback from our first customer, who also happens to be a repeat customer. As a new product start up, hearing from our satisfied customers is the greatest reward.
Nate: Wow, there are so many, it is really hard to choose. I can still remember the first time that a person that we didn't know liked our Facebook page, our first sale, our first sale to a customer that we didn't know, and the first order from a boutique retailer. For me, the biggest win has to be the first time that we made a donation of food to a child in need. When that happened it meant that no matter what happened with endue we had made a difference. It is a thought that makes it a lot easier for me to manage the feelings of fear that come with being an entrepreneur, you see, from this point on it was impossible to fail, because we had already made a difference. That was, and still is a pretty great feeling. I started my career as an investment banker and I certainly did not feel that my days back then were spent helping to make the world a better place. I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to know that now they are spent making a difference.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
Gary and Nate: We are huge Mamalode fans. We read a TON of Mommy (and Daddy!) blogs and magazines and Mamalode is one of our hands down favorite places to go for great content. We were lucky enough to get introduced to Elke in 2013. She is a phenomenal individual, so full of positive energy it is hard to walk away from a conversation with her without an extra bounce in your step, and the story of Mamalode is such a wonderful one. So, we are huge fans. We spend time on the website, of course, but one of the things that we think is so unique about Mamalode is the print edition. It is a wonderful way to experience the incredible content that is inside and so refreshing in a world that is transitioning away from print towards digital. Are we the only ones that miss being able to hold a magazine in our own hands, taking the time to relish flipping from page to page? We sure don't think that we are, and so thank you Mamalode for allowing us to continue to do so!