They say nothing good ever happens after 2am. Unless you’re a Stanford graduate, business-minded woman who is awake at 3am, feeding your lovely newborn little boy. In that case, lots of good things can happen in those sleepy morning hours, including being struck with inspiration for a company that fills a niche market for quality baby products.
At least that’s what we figure, based on baby product brand Coco Moon, from the island of Oahu in Hawaii, USA. Amber Thibaut is the founder of Coco Moon, and like many parents of 2 little boys, she’s great at multi-tasking.
We had a conversation with Amber about her 3am inspiration, how her business found success, and how TradeGecko is helping her run Coco Moon in as little time as possible.
THE idea of the month
Amber has always been driven, inspired and full of ideas. Her husband would (lovingly) joke about her having “ideas of the month”. Well, at least one of those ideas happened to be a really viable business plan.
As a mother of two young boys, Amber found inspiration in her lifestyle and needs within it. She saw a real lack of well-designed, island-inspired, high-quality items for babies on the market. Everything that was available in Hawaii was either catered towards tourists or cheaply made with fabrics that she didn’t want to wrap around her little one.
Looking at her snuggly, wrapped up little baby, Amber decided to start producing and selling the one thing she didn’t live without in those days: a swaddle. They would be functional swaddles influenced by the islands where Amber was born and raised: Hawaii.
Sourcing and manufacturing
One of Coco Moon’s unique selling points is the quality of fabric and the swaddles themselves. As a result, sourcing and manufacturing were essential aspects of product development.
In order to find materials and manufacturers up to her standard, Amber started with a lot of research.
“I contacted as many manufacturers as I could, and spoke with them about quality and pricing, narrowed it down and got samples from each. The designs are all my ideas, but I work with local artists to help get what’s in my head onto paper.”
She relies on two major factors while choosing who to partner up with: price and quality. However, she stated that now she also looks at one other factor - ease of communication.
“Now that I’ve grown, I also look for ease of communication. When you manufacture overseas, language barriers can be a big deal. Now I look to build relationships with manufacturers who are better communicators and have more respect for procedure and processes.”
Coco Moon is now a wholesale and retail business that Amber operates almost entirely on her own. She feels lucky to be able to dedicate 3 days a week to the business, squeezing in extra working hours during naptimes and late at night after bedtime has come and gone.
Finding that market niche
In the beginning, to find customers, Amber targeted wholesale boutiques that she wanted to be in. She realized pretty quickly that she had found a niche, and business spread quickly. Now, she uses social media for international customers and word of mouth in the tight-knit Hawaiian community to get the word out about Coco Moon.
Most of her current customers are within Hawaii, but she also gets plenty of wholesale business from mainland USA and Japan. And she’s looking at growing her hold in the market, both domestically and overseas.
Right now, Coco Moon has one product category with 9 active SKUs but within the next year would like to grow to at least 6 product categories with 40 SKUs. Coco Moon is also looking for more wholesale accounts, especially in the mainland USA and Japan.
Amber handles all of Coco Moon’s operations, except when she has a lot of orders, in which she enlists the help of a friend. Before finding TradeGecko, when Amber would receive a wholesale order through email, she would retype it into a word document for a packing list and retype it into an excel spreadsheet to make an invoice.
The invoice would be sent to the customer and her bookkeeper, who would enter it into QuickBooks to manually track sales dollars, quantities, individual sales and so on. That was a lot of double, even triple, entry going on for each order.
Human error, a lack of centralized data, and sometimes running out of stock lead her to look for another way of doing things.
After many free trials of several different types of software, she settled on TradeGecko, citing it was the easiest to use, and had the best functionality for what she was doing.
Amber now uses TradeGecko with a Shopify integration as she processes orders and shipments. She enters all her orders into TradeGecko, and syncs with ShipStation to handle fulfillment. Her own house and an offsite storage unit serve as her warehouses. “Now, there’s no more double work. My bookkeeper doesn’t have to re-enter things, which helps save me money and foremost, a lot of time. It has been a positive thing to start using TG for sure.”
Coco Moon has found a niche market and run with it, producing just the kind of swaddles any mom would be excited to wrap around her newborn. And may the success of Coco Moon be a reminder to never underestimate what a new mom can do - especially if she’s anything like Amber Thibaut.
See Coco Moon’s beautiful products here.