Monday, August 8, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Stacy Harfert of Bobee Inc.

Being a first time mom, I have found over the months how to be creative in tough spots when it comes to changing my daughter's diapers.  We have been at restaurants and other public venues where there were no bathroom changing tables available.  So, I would have to revert to changing her diaper on the floor of a stall, on the grass in the park, etc.  And, at home, we ended up bringing her changing table down into our bedroom while she was sleeping in our room, as it was easier than running up a flight of stairs to change a diaper.  But, with my mini makeshift changing station, I always found that either the diapers, wipes or creams were not handy all the time.  With the limited table space I had, items were falling on the floor or simply out of reach when I needed the.  I found myself peed on numerous times, while trying to reach for a diaper that had fallen.

But, thanks to Stacy's intention, the Bobee Diaper Changing Station, these worries are a thing of the past.  To learn more about Stacy's product, head back here on Friday, when I will be reviewing her product in more detail and offering one lucky Inspired by Savannah reader a chance to win one for themselves or someone they know.

In the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mommy interview with Stacy below.


Name: Stacy Harfert
Company Name/Product/Service:Bobee Inc.
Company Location: Arvada, CO
Company Website:
Age of Company: 1 yr. old
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas Edison.  This quote encourages me to persevere and to recognize the achievements I've already made.
Favorite Book:  When I think back to books I’ve read and liked, I am also influenced by the context of where I was and what I was doing in life.  For example, I read “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel in a book club with some great friends when I lived in Seattle.  I really liked the book, but its significance to me includes many memories from that time in my life.  I liked the twist at the end of the book, and it’s definitely worth the read!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc. 
I have two sons; Colby - 3 years and Ben - 20 months. I love recreational boating given that I grew up near the water in Seattle.  I’m looking forward to Ben getting a little older so we can all boat together as a family.  My career background is sales; everything from Audi's to art, golf clothing to ice cream.  I’m currently training for my first 5k run!
Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about? 
As a new mom I had my hands full! I needed something to hold diapers and wipes where they were convenient, but also out of the way.  We moved to Colorado and every surface seemed to be taken up by something. That's when it struck me… I needed a wall-mounted dispenser for my diapers and wipes.  I searched in stores and online and couldn’t find something that would provide this function, so I created one out of cardboard, then one out of Plexiglas and used it for several months. It worked so well that I decided to move forward and design a dispenser that I could sell to other parents.
What is a typical work day like? 
The boys are usually awake by 6am. I try to go for a jog in the morning before the kids are awake.  I focus on the the boys in the mornings, clean a bit during nap time, then have babysitter in the afternoon so that I can focus on Bobee.  Evenings and weekends are family time (trips to the pool and the Denver Zoo seem to be the favorites.) 
What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 
Start-up cost. Being able to finance a start-up independently has been a struggle.  There are clearly other avenues to find capital, but I wanted to retain as much control as possible in the initial stages of building our company.  We have used nearly all our savings as well as cashed out a 401(k) to invest in the idea, and we have managed our finances so that this outlay of funds does not put our financial future at risk.
What did you do in your past work life?  
Most recently I was a sales and internet manager for a large Audi dealership in the Seattle area.  I’ve also been in charge of promotional marketing for a high-end condo complex in San Francisco and have sold Jack Nicklaus sportswear (among other clothing lines) to golf course pro shops in a four-state region.
What have been some of your major successes?
Professionally, I consider the launch of Bobee to be my biggest success.  Although I just received product and am only starting to generate sales, I’ve been able to navigate all of the processes thus far and have received many compliments about how I’ve handled the process from professionals in many industries along the way.  I’ve gone through two industrial design firms, two graphic designers, two patent law firms and numerous production issues in order to finally have a great, quality product that I’m proud to be selling.  I feel I’ve learned so much and pushed my boundaries further than ever before.
What have been some of your major challenges? 
 Dealing with the manufacturing firm that did the tooling and initial production run.  I have very little experience in the tooling process and plastic injection molding in general.  I did quite a bit of research, and at the end of the day chose a firm that was local (so that I could stay close to the process) while still holding production costs low.  The net result is that although our product turned out great, there were continuous production delays.  The process took twice as long as promised which caused a lot of juggling as the advertising had already begun to hit well before I had product in inventory.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going? 
 I think it’s belief in myself and my product.  I’ve always been able to accomplish everything I put my mind to, and the research I did before jumping into this venture supported the decision to make such a large investment of time and money. I received hundreds of surveys from pregnant women, mothers with kids in diapers, and daycare centers to measure the potential success of the product. This provided great feedback that I incorporated into the product’s design and marketing tactics.  I have also had good direction from friends and family members who provided insight on everything from manufacturing to marketing.  They believe in my product as much as I do which continues to bolster my confidence.  I also continue to receive enthusiastic comments from parents who are currently using our diaper and wipe dispenser.  I know the product works great and that people who use it will recognize its benefits.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?  
Structuring my time.  I have a set schedule which provides consistency for me and my children.  I also utilize part-time day care and schooling for my children so that I’m able to devote the time needed for both my business and my family.  My husband and I work in a date night from time to time which I think is also very important.  He is my biggest cheerleader, and making an effort to keep our relationship on the front burner really helps me in all the other areas of my life.
What is next for your business? 
I am working on expanding my marketing plan for direct-to-consumer sales and beginning the process to outline the plan to enter the retail market.
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?   
The best advice I have received (and wished I had taken more to heart) was to double my budget and timeline. No matter what expectations you have for your budget (both in dollars and in timing) you should always pad them. There have been so many great additional marketing opportunities that I couldn't pass up, additional manufacturing and tooling costs, more legal expenses, etc.  My advice is to take your budget and double it!

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