The true measure of a successful product is: Does it solve a customer problem? As new, active parents, Paul and Rachelle Baron faced a common problem when trying to take their little one swimming. They wanted a high quality, reusable swim diaper that handled solid waste well, but there was nothing on the market that met their standards. “The problems we saw were that disposables were not good quality, didn’t contain solid waste well, and were sold in size specific packs that we wouldn’t get through by the time he outgrew them. The reusables that were on the market were also size specific and had complicated sizing information,” said Paul. Out of this need, they began developing the Nageuret (Nah-jour-ay; French for small swimmer) one size reusable swim diaper with their own son Beau acting as a built-in product tester. The resulting reusable swim diaper grows with the child, from 3 months old to 3 years old.
In July 2015, they officially launched Beau & Belle Littles online and learned there was a market demand for the product. After attending Loveland Startup Week in 2016, they met with representatives from the Loveland Business Development Center and began a mentorship relationship. The husband and wife team harnessed the great combination of Paul being a risk taker while Rachelle prefers calculated moves, allowing them to be open to opportunities without rushing in. They began meeting with LBDC consultants on a regular basis, who helped them dig into their financials, accounting and taxes. “If you can’t see how much is coming in and going out, it gets much more complicated,” said Rachelle. In the first year of their business, they faced issues with manufacturing and keeping proper inventory levels, in fact, they went out stock 2 times in 2015 because of this. In January of 2016, sales of the Nageuret were between double and quadruple what they were in December 2015, which caused them to go out of stock for nearly 3 weeks. Paul recalls, “There were a lot of learning curves since there is not a lot of textile or apparel manufacturing companies for hire in the US.” They have continued to meet with their LBDC consultants to establish a predictive model for how much inventory they will need for different times of the year in the future.
Despite challenges, their reusable swim diapers continue to generate attention, proving the need for the product. They have been featured on the Rachel Ray Show, in November 2016 they won a competition for a $10,000 grand prize from OnDeck, had mentorship meetings with Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank, and have plans to continue to enter entrepreneur competitions to grow their product. These successes have allowed them to donate to Compassion International, along with their local volunteer support of the House of Neighborly Service and the Loveland Big Thompson School District’s entrepreneurship program.
Paul’s advice for entrepreneurs is, “Don’t get discouraged, and understand that it’s a lot of hard work. Look for mentorship and people who are smarter than you.” Rachelle encourages others to stand your ground when it comes to your vision for your business, even while taking advice. While they are excited to continue exploring products that help families enjoy time with their children, their focus will always be family first, business second.