As a women-owned and operated company, we know firsthand the joys and challenges of juggling motherhood and business—that's why we take so much pleasure in celebrating the successes of other mom-preneurs. Our "Moms Who Made It" interview series highlights business-savvy moms we love, and we think you will, too!
This month, we're diving into the business of baby-wearing with Elle Rowley, the genius mama behind one of our favorite baby brands, Solly Baby. Inspired by her own difficult transition into motherhood, Rowley started her business in 2010 when she was pregnant with her second child, Solomon (Solly for short!). She made her first wrap with a $50 serger she bought on Craiglist and discovered that she loved the experience of carrying her baby.
After selling in pop-up shops and on Etsy for three years, Solly Baby took off, thanks in large part to devoted parents sharing on social media. The brand has been highlighted by the likes of The New York Times, Vogue, Parents, Martha Stewart, and the Today Show, and earned celeb devotees that include Anne Hathaway, Ayesha Curry, and Serena Williams.
We’re so inspired by Elle's journey through motherhood and entrepreneurship, and couldn’t wait to pick her brain. Read on for more, plus an exclusive discount code for your own Solly Baby wrap!
Tell us a bit about your company and the products you’ve created.
I started Solly Baby with a pregnant belly and a $50 Craigslist serger back in 2010. I made one simple baby wrap for myself and a friend, and after having my son, we both quickly fell in love with the experience. Looking down at him that first time in the wrap and holding my toddler’s hand for our first outing, I knew this was something I had to share with other parents. I got to work while my babies slept, moving the furniture to a corner and lining the living and dining room floors with tape as cutting guides; experimenting with fabrics; and sewing on my serger, tweaking the design until it was perfectly functional, beautiful, and reflected my personal style and aesthetic.
Our headquarters are now in Carlsbad, California, and we have a whole assortment of soft good products for that first year, including swaddles, sleepers, crib sheets, and a next-steps carrier called the Loop.
Describe your business philosophy in a few words.
Small things with great love. When you continually put out thoughtful, intentional products and marketing to customers you really love and care about, great things happen.
What was the problem in the marketplace that you set out to solve, and how did you go about finding a solution for it?
I loved wearing my first baby (she had lots of colic and reflux) but I always ended each wearing with a headache and a backache. I was determined to make something better for my second. I knew that wraps were known for being comfortable, so that’s why I made one, but what I didn’t know was that I was making a much lighter, more comfortable version than the baby wraps that were on the market at the time.
What has kept you motivated throughout the journey of starting your own business?
Keeping vision. If I can see the next step, then very few things will stop me from taking it.
When did you start to feel like you “made it?”
There have been several hallmark moments for the brand, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I’ve “made it” and I actually don’t think I ever want to!
Who is your mentor, or an inspirational figure you look up to?
I look up to so many female entrepreneurs—most are also personal friends. I am continually learning from our conversations as we share experiences and offer advice and encouragement. On a more philosophical level, Clayton Christensen’s books have deeply impacted my life.
What’s your #1 tip for moms interested in starting their own business?
Know your “why.”
What does “me” time mean to you?
It means looking inside and asking myself what I need and then meeting that need. Sometimes it’s a girls night, sometimes it’s date night, and sometimes it’s a date with myself.
Any favorite books or podcasts that you’ve found particularly motivating?
The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer just changed my life.
What’s on your bedside table?
My journal, my planner, Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, and a book called Jesus Said that is just Christ’s words in scripture. And my cell phone charger and water bottle—always water.
Share your favorite inspirational quote, if you have one!
“Your real work is to figure out where your power base is and to work on that alignment of your personality—your gifts you have to give—with the real reason why you are here … Align your personality with your purpose, and no one can touch you.” —Oprah
As an exclusive for our readers, use code BELLYBANDIT to save 10% on your purchase of any Solly Baby product through September!