From the Kitchen Table to Global Baby Phenomenon – Meet Raegan Moya-Jones of aden + anais – This week’s AWNY Startup Story

Raegan Moya-Jones is an Australian who has lived in New York for 18 years. From her kitchen she created the baby brand aden + anais which is internationally recognized, acclaimed and loved by celebrities the world over.

Congratulations on the huge success of your global baby brand aden + anais! Tell us about yourself and your business?

I’m originally from Australia, but have spent the last 18 years of my career in New York City. When I was expecting my first daughter, I was living here in New York, very far from home, and preparing the way that new mums do, nesting. We tend to stock up on all of the things that brought us comfort when we were young, things that we saw our mums and in my case sister using on their babies, and for any Aussie mum to be, a stack of muslin swaddles would be the first thing on that list.

I looked all over New York – a city where you can find absolutely anything – and there wasn’t a piece of muslin in sight.

At the time, I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I didn’t have aspirations of owning a business. In fact, my most recent boss had told me that I didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. I was working in research sales at The Economist, and I was good at what I did and was successful. But in the back of my mind, I knew that the little voice telling me that I could make American mothers fall in love with muslin swaddles was right, and I decided to give it a try.

This is the part where I walk right in and turn in my resignation, right?

Wrong.

I started aden + anais as an additional full-time job, one that I worked on at night in my kitchen after my girls were in bed and I’d worked a full day at my “real job.” I survived on a few hours’ sleep every night. I went way too long without washing my hair. And I believed from that very first day that what I had in my kitchen was the makings of a 100 million dollar business.

How long did you have the idea for this business and why did you decide to start aden + anais?

The entire brand was inspired by necessity. I knew that if mothers in America had the kind of swaddles that mothers in Australia did, if they realized that this one piece of fabric had multiple uses and would become indispensable after having their baby, they’d fall in love with it. And for whatever reason, I thought that I could work out a way to make that happen.

classic swaddle 4 pack jungle jam bird

Why do you think your brand has been so popular in the United States? 

Ultimately, we all want the same things when it comes to our children: to know that we’re making good choices for them, that we’re bringing products into our lives that we trust, and that the things in our lives feel authentic and true to who we are. You can’t fake any of that, and our brand is popular not because we have a massive advertising budget – we absolutely don’t – but because we’ve been focused on doing what we do best. We make beautiful, useful, high quality products that we’d want in our own homes. We make things well. We make things to make life easier for parents and caretakers. And we make them stylish. We owe our success to every parent who loved our product and told their pregnant friends, who told their pregnant friends…

After your success in the USA how long afterwards did you start exporting?

That happened very quickly as I realized that outside of Australia no other country had heard of muslin swaddles either so I worked quickly to expand globally. I started the Australian office first in 2008, as that was easier in terms of staffing. My sister Paige ran the business and my mum Barbara was our bookkeeper. Then I expanded into the UK in 2009, Canada and Japan in 2010 and just this year we incorporated in China.

What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?

Having Adam Sandler photographed with his first baby, using one of our products…and then Gwen Stefani…and then Beyonce…that kind of truly authentic PR coverage, where celebrities were using our products not because we were sending it to them, but because their own friends and family had suggested it to them and purchased it for them, THAT was special.

Beyonce, Jay-Z And Blue Ivy Leaving St. Barth

What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York and how does it differ to Australia? 

I’ve only ever started a business in the US so I have no comparison to starting one in Australia. I would think that the challenges would be the same. It is a huge amount of work to start a business from scratch regardless of what country you start it in. Had I known going in how much work it would be I may not have dived in so willingly. That said, now I am out the other side I am very happy that I did.

Are there any particular manufacturing challenges you have faced and what tips would you give someone looking to start a product range? 

It took a long time for me to develop the quality of muslin we are known for at aden + anais. Once I found our manufacturer, which in itself took me two years, there was endless back and forth until we perfected the fabric.

The biggest tip I have for someone trying to start a product range is to understand that you are signing up for hard work. It’s work that you can do, but you better want it and love it, because it’s not going to be easy and it certainly won’t be glamorous. I started aden + anais at my kitchen table, and worked it full time from 8.30pm through to 3am every morning on top of my full time job …while raising my daughters.

Everyone thinks “I can do that,” and the only thing that will set you apart is actually doing it. You don’t need to be an expert in everything. You need to have a vision you can stay true to, and enough humility to be able to surround yourself with people who are experts at what they do…and let them do it. 

classic swaddle 4 pack jungle jam hanging

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

We have never spent much money on traditional marketing; in fact the first time we paid for any marketing placement was in 2014. I am a big believer in PR and have worked with the same PR agent, Kristina Junger Godfrey since back in 2008. She did an amazing job getting the word out on aden + anais. We are lucky to be a brand that people really connect with and because of that they are happy to spread the word for us. Most of our success has come from word of mouth, mums telling other mums that they have to use aden + anais.

Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks? 

I have never had a mentor and I am not much of a networker. There have definitely been people over the years that I have gone to for advice. The most significant being my first private equity firm, Seidler Equity Partners. Bob and Matt Seidler were instrumental in the early stages in guiding me on how to build a successful healthy business. I definitely owe a lot of my business success to them.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business? 

Make sure you believe in your idea 150% otherwise the amount of work you need to do to get it off the ground will derail you if you don’t. Know what you know and what you don’t know and fill in the gaps with people who do. Trust your instincts, mine still guide me and to this day have yet to let me down.

Your first product was a baby swaddle. Why do you think that Americans didn’t use swaddles before you introduced the product?

I think that plenty of Americans knew about swaddling, but thought it was too difficult, or were using entirely the wrong kind of blanket to do it. Cotton muslin is really the ideal fabric for a swaddle. It’s soft, and breathable, and has the right amount of stretch to make sure you can get it right. A muslin swaddle was designed to make swaddling as easy as possible. It has a natural stretch, it gets softer with every wash, and it’s intentionally oversized, to make it easier for parents to get a nice secure swaddle.

What is next for aden + anais?

We always have lots of things in the queue, which is why I’m still excited to come to work after ten years. I can tell you that we plan to keep growing globally, to continue to innovate and make great products for families around the world, and that I plan to still be here steering the ship for the foreseeable future.

Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members?

I have set up a 20% code for your members at www.adenandanais.com if they enter AWNY2016 at checkout. The code will be valid through November 1st.

classic swaddle 4 pack jungle jam packaging

Follow aden and anais on social media to keep up to date with this wonderful business. 

Twitter: @adenandanais

Instagram: @adenandanais

Facebook: /adenandanais

 

Love this AWNY Startup Story? Want more?

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Are you an Australian female who owns a business in New York?

If you do and you want to tell us all about it, email us at awny@aaanyc.org

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Maternity Leave in the US Makes Me Want to Move Down Under

Written by Laura Forer

Peanut butter, Disneyland, better Netflix… yes, there are truly some great benefits to living in the US. But if you’ve ever had a baby here, or know someone who has had a baby here, then you know that one huge disadvantage is the lack of paid parental leave.

Nearly every country in the world—and all developed countries—offer some type of paid leave to new parents (always mothers, sometimes fathers). Except the US.

So I wrote this letter, which lists 13 statistics about how the US is behind and why it’s important to change, and I’m asking for your help:

  1. If you are registered to vote in the US, please send the letter at parentalleaveletter.com to your representatives. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE. So far this letter has been sent from hundreds of people in 35 states. Let’s make it thousands of people from all of the states.

Of all the issues, why am I championing this one? Because it affects literally every person. Because babies need their parents, parents need their babies, and when paid leave is done properly it actually saves employers money and creates a healthier nation.

Right now paid leave in the US is not done properly. It’s true that some lucky people get paid time off because they work for a generous employer. Google, Facebook, Adobe, and the aforementioned Netflix are just a few of the large tech companies footing the bill. But most workers do not enjoy this benefit. It’s very common for expectant moms to save up all their sick and vacation days to allow them an extra couple weeks to be with their child once their six weeks of disability pay expires.

This means that many new parents in the US have to choose between staying with newborn babies or going back to work. And too often, this decision isn’t made in a matter of months—situations become desperate in a matter or weeks, or even days. 30% of women in the US do not even take maternity leave.

But one thing moms do well is help each other. And we can change this. To learn more about how paid parental leave helps babies, parents, and yes, even employers, check out this letter and then spread the word.

 

About the Author

Laura Forer is an American who lived in Australia during university and fell in love with antipodean culture. When she moved back to New York, she founded Waltzing Matilda’s Bakery to share her passion for Aussie sweets and treats. Now closed, she currently works in content marketing and, after the birth of her first child, has become an advocate for changing maternity leave laws in the US. Connect with Laura at llaurra@hotmail.com.

AWNY Mums & Dads February update: Love is in the air

Written by Anita Davison

With a plethora of pink love hearts and talk of ‘candy grams’ at school this month, February has arrived with gusto. Not only have we had some of the warmest winter weather on record, we managed to survive the second worst blizzard to ever hit NYC. I must say I really enjoyed the snow; it truly is a thing of beauty to watch white snow flakes float from the sky, hear the world muffled & quiet, and watch the snow blanket the ground so quickly. Watching my newsfeed on social media on Sunday proved that everyone had the same idea to get out and into it. We had a blast sledding at St Nicholas park, watched many snowmen being built, but also witnessed many people cross country skiing as well as a few snowboarders and being towed by jeeps in the streets. It felt like we were in Aspen!

We moved house last week, our third time in 2.5 years (more times than in the last 10!), and to say it was exhausting is an understatement. I feel as though the boxes are multiplying as I unpack them; I think I am at the end and more appear out of thin air! We are almost done and I must say there really is something to be said for a fresh start; new year, new home, happy times ahead. Although we didn’t move far, there are new things to discover in our area and new Seamless ordering options to peruse!

Congratulations to all parents who got their kindergarten applications in last week, what a mission that was! Commiserations those of you now working through their Pre-K applications, I have the double whammy this year of Pre-K & Kindergarten; so I will be consuming more wine than usual this month. Ella Colley over at Inside Schools shared an event they are running on February 11 called the  “The Low-Down on Pre-K Admission”, click here to get more information and purchase tickets. You can also check out their website to read more about Pre-K and the application process, important dates and information on public schools in the five boroughs on their website, here.

That’s it from me this month so please keep an eye on the AWNY and M&D’s Facebook pages for upcoming events. Keep sharing and posting on the page also, we love to see what everyone is up to, gather useful information and support one another when a call for help or information is posted.

Anita xo

PS: Don’t forget that I’m always keen to hear from our group members if they are interested in providing content for our monthly updates. Just PM me!

 

AWNY Mums & Dads September update: A bittersweet time of year

Written by Anita Davison

As Labor Day weekend fast approaches, signaling the end of the NY Summer, it’s time to reflect on the new beginnings ahead of us. As we travelled, played, explored, and reveled through our summertime break, the days rolled into one another and now those days are coming to an end.

One of the biggest transitions many of us will experience this month is that of our kids heading off to school. Whether it’s their very first time in a school environment, the first day at a different school, or moving up a grade, emotions run high for kids and parents alike.

Like with most things, preparation can really help ease everyone into any new phase, so I’ve compiled a list of resources (some serious, some not so serious) that you may find helpful.

Aha! Parenting is an online resource that I have found useful on many occasions through my parenting journey (I have no affiliations with the site, I just enjoy the content!) and this week I read an article called “Preparing Your Child for the New School Year” written by Dr Laura. In the article she covers 15 steps on helping your child adjust to the whole back to school process. I highly recommend the read.

If the emotions are running higher for you as the parent then they are for your child, you can find some helpful “Tips to survive your child’s first day at school” here. Continue reading

AWNY Mums & Dads July update: Summer School Holiday Activities

Written by Anita Davison

With school holidays upon us thought I would share with you a list of 20 things you can do to entertain the kids in the city this summer. Be sure to share your experiences on the FB page, give your feedback and reviews on events you’ve discovered, loved, and even those that may not have been worth the effort.

If you’re like me, I was ready for September a mere two weeks into the holidays. I have now started working through the list below and I’m enjoying the time much more; an entertained 4 year old is a happy 4 year old! Click the title of each to find out more details.

1. Hudson Riverflicks Family Fridays – There’s something for the whole family on Friday nights in Hudson River Park. Hudson RiverFlicks’ Family Fridays returns to Hudson River Park’s Pier 46 this summer and features recent favorites and many classics. Films are rated PG. Movies begin at dusk (generally around 8:30pm). Free popcorn.

2. Wild Wednesdays at the Highline – I love walking the Highline, especially at this time of the year when it becomes an adventure playground for kids. Wild Wednesdays run in July and August and kids 4+ can learn about the animals and plants that call the Highline home, how they create their homes, find food, and help our city environment.

3. Brooklyn Botanical Gardens – The BBG’s Discovery Garden is now open and offering some great events for kids of all ages. There’s the Family Discovery Weekend events, First Discoveries for Toddlers (2-4), Kids Discovery Stations and more.

4. NYC Public Pools – Public outdoor pools officially opened on June 27, so take the kids for a paddle or enroll in free swimming lessons for all ages. Its a great way to keep cool during the hotter months!

5. Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Open Tuesdays – Sundays, and offering ‘free hours’ every Thursday from 2-5pm (until August 27), this is a great option when trying to escape the heat. Check out the events calendar for info on all the fun events on offer for toddlers through to teens.

6. Urban Farm Exploration Days, Randall’s Island – Every Saturday (until September 26), take the kids to explore and learn about farming. They can hang out with chickens, venture through the grown fruits and veggies and learn about rice paddies on a self guided tour.

7. Summer in the Square – there are over 45 events happening for kids at Summer in the Square presented by the Union Square Partnership. Every Thursday they can participate in events such as Yoga Storytime, Swedish Cottage marionette shows, PopFit Kids FUNctional Fitness programs, Live music performances reading, crafts and more.

8. Revisit Alice in Wonderland – celebrate 150 years of Alice in Wonderland at the Morgan Library & Museum. Ages 4+

9. Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks – Celebrate the 4th of July with a bang!

10. Free Summer Musical Theatre in the West Village – This summer Theatreworks will present Skippyjon Jones Snow What (& the 7 Chihuahuas). 

11. Frolic! at CMOM – The Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s new interactive rock ‘n’ roll-themed pop-up play space dedicated to children 0 – 5 years old is now open. Throw your hands up in the air as you sing, dance and play in this pint-sized rockers’ dream.

12. Broadway in Bryant Park – Check out some Broadway performances, then take a spin on the Carousel – a perfect day out! Beginning July 11.

13. Check out this list of 20 of the best water playgrounds in NYC.

14. Catch and Release Fishing in Harlem Meer – FREE

15. Kids concerts at Madison Square Park – free interactive concerts on the Farragut Lawn every Thursday morning from May 28-July 30 at 10:30am (lawn opens at 10am)

16. Coney Island – Ride the big wheel, eat a hot dog and get some sand between your toes. A day at Coney Island has so much to offer!

17. Ride a Carousel – this list is the pick of the bunch

18. Visit a zoo – there are 5 zoos and an aquarium in NY and if you’re a member of one, you get to see them all!

19. Central Park – I bet you haven’t explored every corner of central park! Take a different path next time you visit, explore the top half, or check out the park’s website to see all the amazing things it has to offer and plan a great day out.

20. Explore a new area – sometimes the easiest activity is just to pick a neighborhood to explore. Some of the best things in NY are the ones you discover on your travels. And don’t be afraid to leave Manhattan!

And Happy 4th of July to all!

Anita