To start September’s Sunday Showcase, I interviewed Ashly Sharpless. Ashly, aged 28, is the owner of BABE: Bold Accessories for Baby Entertainment based in Champaign County in Illinois, USA.
BABE: Bold Accessories for Baby Entertainment makes custom silicone teething accessories.
Here is my interview with Ashly…
When did you start your business?
I just started making and selling custom silicone teething jewelry and accessories this year, in 2016.
What made you decide to set up your business?
Someone had gifted me with a silicone teething necklace. It was a simple pendant that I could easily hide if I did not want it displayed and could easily slip in my shirt, then pull out when I needed to use it. Primarily when nursing! We all know little ones like to play, explore, touch, pull, etc etc. I was amazed at how much the necklace helped my little one focus on the task at hand. Eating! It also helped deter bad habits that often mothers stop nursing for. It kept him from scratching me, biting, pulling my hair, tearing at my good jewelry etc. Instead, he could play, pull, bite, and hold the necklace.
What do you do and what products do you sell?
I sell silicone teething jewelry and accessories that are made to slip onto car seats, strollers, baby carriers, Made with a breakaway clasp to avoid little fingers or hands getting tangled.
What products seem to be your best sellers?
Elephants, Anchors, Cookies, Necklaces, and owls. They are all so fun and can be customized to suit any style, theme, and favorite colors.
Who are your biggest competitors?
There are others who sell on Etsy, and bigger companies that do teething jewelry. Some Big stores like Target and toys are us are starting to sell these. However, I try to keep mine at a competitive price, affordable S&H and offer a part in the design of the piece which goes a long way. I keep my prices at a rate I would like to pay. The bigger stores typically charge much more and steep S&H. I Buy from the USA and other small business to help support local moms and their business dreams in hope that it will come back full circle.
How do you advertise your business?
At the moment I am using Facebook and Etsy and craft shows and word of mouth.
How would you recommend your business to potential customers?
Silicone Teething Jewelry is so great because it offers a drug-free teething pain and chew relief. It can even be put in the freezer to be kept cold. Teething necklaces are made from 100% food-grade silicone made specifically for the mouths of teething babies. It is FDA approved silicone, and BPA free. It helps baby focus on nursing, keeps baby from biting, many call these nursing necklaces, it offers a bright, fun, and fashionable sensory item. An exciting aspect of the silicone pieces are that, not only are they for teething babies. But for big kids as well. My oldest is 7 and wears a shark pendant. This keeps his mouth off the hems of his clothes! Kids of all sizes chew. No need to load them up with meds, try something like this first. The Large pendant pieces are also great for kids with SPD and Autism. It provides them with something to chew, play, fidget with and also a comfort item.
Did you have any problems when starting your business? If so, how did you overcome them?
I am really good at talking myself out of doing something, for this or that reason. I didn’t really believe in myself. With the encouragement of my husband and family, I was able to take the first step and then another and another. I only hope to keep going from here. I have always wanted to create something, to own something of my own, to have a small business. So this is one step in the right direction.
Do you recruit? If so, what are the benefits?
No. Currently, it is myself and the help of family members and a couple friends. Small and close knit.
How do you decide on your designs?
I love to base designs off of baby themes, baby carriers like Tulas and Lillebaby carriers. This has also opened up a whole other world for me. I had never invested in an expensive carrier like these, and am now so happy that I did! I also let the customer request what colors they like. I often present them with a couple different design options and let them choose which they like the best.
What has been your favourite piece to work on?
Honestly, I love them all!
Are there any offers on your products running at the moment?
I always try to cut a good deal, Check out Bold Baby Accessories on Etsy and BABE Bold Accessories for baby Entertainment on Facebook to check in on deals. The most expensive option right now is the large “On the Go” Teething Accessories. These are about $20. But I will offer discounts and savings when you buy more than one. For instance. Buy two of these I will take off at least $5 sometimes more!
What has the experience of owning a business been like for you?
It has caused me to step out of my comfort zone financially, emotionally and socially. It was nerve racking for me to take the first step but so far I am really loving it and it provides a creative outlet as well which I definitely need. It is also something that I am Passionate about, I love kids, I love helping kids, and providing them with something special made from the heart every time!
Where do you see your business in the future? What dreams do you have for your business?
I would love to be the #1 Teething Accessory Creator for Central Illinois, Illinois in general and even the midwest. How cool would that be! However, I am happy with whatever may come my way or wherever this may lead.
Listed below are the store and social media links for BABE: Bold Accessories for Baby Entertainment.
Ashly has also suggested that potential buyers or people interested in silicone teething accessories read her note on Facebook, entitled “Why Babe? Silicone Teething Accessories“
Thank you for answering my questions, Ashly. It has been a pleasure interviewing and getting to know you. I wish you well in your business venture.