Baby Hero is a socially responsible children’s clothing company that was launched seven months ago. It sells organic fair trade baby clothes made with fair labour. On top of that, for every item sold, it donates a neonatal survival kit to developing countries to help mothers and babies survive childbirth and their first month of life. Wow, sounds very impressive, isn’t it? Let’s start from the beginning.
Alicia and Samar co-founded Baby Hero because they were very much inspired by their own births and experiences with motherhood. After going through very difficult births themselves, they became more aware of what women around the world experience when dealing with childbirth and pregnancies. They realised they are extremely lucky to have easy access to modern healthcare facilities in a place like HongKong, whereas many women in other parts of the world are not so lucky and have to do without.
“We were very moved to do something about this maternal and infant health care issue, which unfortunately, is not improving as fast as it should", says Samar.
Alicia and Samar wanted to make a product that could be used universally. Something that could bring the notion of ‘giving back’ into their everyday lives, an object that would be closely identified with the cause they were supporting – a baby onesie, a very essential item for all new born babies. Not just any other baby onesie mind you, but possibly the best you can find in the market, made of organic cotton, meaning that it comes without harmful chemicals and is naturally hypoallergenic.
Right now, Baby Hero products are sold through their e-Commerce store, and through seven retailers in Hong Kong and one in Singapore. To add on to these different selling channels, Baby Hero sets up pop up stores, and attends gift fairs and product fairs that happen quite frequently in Asia.
Alicia and Samar then decided that Baby Hero could potentially be ethical at every point in their value chain, even the manufacturing process. So they sourced for a fair trade manufacturer who uses fair trade organic cotton, operates factories where staffs work under social accountability certificates, and also gives back to its community. That explains the sense of pride whenever Alicia and Samar talk about their products.
After cold calling hundreds of fair trade certified factories from a database, and asking questions such as whether they work with organic products, whether they cater to smaller orders and the likes, they finally decided on a manufacturer based in Southern India that employs women and disabled persons, and also gives back to a HIV and cancer clinic.
Furthermore, Baby Hero is working with a group of researchers conducting a ground breaking medical study in Pakistan and Kenya. They are testing the kits donated by Baby Hero to see how effective they are, with the belief that these kits will reduce infant mortality by about 40%. The study will help fund the kits they are testing.
What’s exciting about this concept is that in a year or two, Alicia and Samar will actually have concrete proof on the number of lives that they have been able to save with the sale of Baby Hero onesies. Because when a customer buys a piece of clothing, they are potentially saving the life of a child who is receiving a kit.
To elaborate on the kits, they are low-cost and efficient with different items, giving mothers a tool to help reduce infections in their babies and keep their babies until they are safe to be transported to a place where they can get medical care.
“This could be a game changer for infant mortality. And as a brand, we’re super excited to have the opportunity and ability to help these kits be distributed to many mothers in the most rural parts of the world.”
It is really innovative and daring to build a business on a charitable, ‘buy one give one’ model. In addition, partnering up with a study that will be able to give Alicia and Samar evidence at the end of the day, reaffirms that what they are doing is making a different to the world.
Alicia and Samar are ultimately trying to build a brand that spreads goodness in the world – from the fact that it is more eco-friendly, fair trade, and it donates to a fantastic cause. Their number 1 job is to sell more clothes via the company so that all those can be achieved. Baby Hero is a completely ethical company and brand that helps parents purchase products that only contribute towards a good cause.
“We are very proud of what we’re doing, we think we’re at the forefront of a movement that’s growing – for companies to be ethical and to give back.”
“The system is great for us! We’ve created multiple locations on TradeGecko so we know where our products are, as most of our retailers take us on consignment. So we use the Multiple Warehouses feature to create different consignment locations. Every time we have a pop up event, we create a Sales Order for that as well.”
“More importantly, the reason why we use TradeGecko is that it offers Multi Currency. Alicia and I are both from the States; our aspiration is to take our brand to America – that’s our goal for the later part of this year. We’ve also found that a lot of our customers currently are in the US. Moreover, prices for international customers have to be displayed in US Dollar on our Shopify store.”
“However, we’re both based in Hong Kong; everything else we do is in HK Dollar. So we got on to TradeGecko in order to allow our Shopify store to be in a different currency from the rest of our business. And it was a smooth integration, we were very pleased with that. Recently, we also changed the pricing of products on our Shopify store and that change was completely seamless.”
“It makes a lot of sense for Alicia and I to be as flexible as possible, given that we both have our families to take care of while managing the business. And Cloud-based systems are the only solutions that offer us that flexibility. Right now we’re both still working from home, which allows us to maximise our time with our children as well."
“Using Shopify, TradeGecko, and Xero (all in the Cloud) means that it doesn’t matter if we decide to work from our home office or we choose to meet up to work together – whatever, whenever – we can always bring up these three applications: our website, our inventory management, and our finances. We also travel constantly, and as entrepreneurs, you can’t stop working. We didn’t even stop when we had babies. So you can’t do that if your applications are not Cloud-based."
Hong Kong is a very friendly place for setting up businesses, as setup costs are very low and the government is very responsive and helpful. In addition, there lies an advantage to being based in Asia; Baby Hero’s producers and factories are here and they get access to this fast growing market as well.
Besides gaining growth and increasing sales in Hong Kong, Baby Hero plans to expand into the US because that is where a prominent section of their market is. Their expansion in the US, while living in Hong Kong, is going to be a big challenge, but Alicia and Samar are very positive about it.
Electronic correspondences are taking place between the duo and their counterparts in the States. It’s a matter of telling them Baby Hero’s story, sending over samples, and identifying with retailers who have the same vision. Alicia and Samar also plan to attend baby fairs and trade shows in New York in October this year for an added push.
When asked about how the whole experience has been, Alicia and Samar let out knowing laughs and replied in unison, “Exhausting.”
Alicia has a two-month old baby at the moment, and Samar had a baby a few months before Baby Hero’s launch, and on top of that, they both have older children. They are obviously juggling their families with the business, meaning they have to constantly prioritise and reprioritise what they have to do in order to make Baby Hero a successful business.
“It’s been a wild ride – a very wonderful one. You can’t put a value to the lives that Baby Hero has saved.”
Alicia and Samar have great plans for this company; they want to go beyond selling baby clothing. They want to take this concept of an ethical supply chain and apply it to linens, bath products, baby toys etc. “We think there’s a great market out there for parents who want ethical products for their children.”