Nursery area for baby products
Wilmington is known for its clinical research cluster and its financial technology cluster. But what about its cluster of baby products?
The region is home to at least five companies that provide niche products for infants and toddlers. Managers from three companies recently met and chatted.
“I am surprised and delighted that we are sharing best practices and rooting for each other,” said Amanda Legbeti, co-owner of Glider Skirt. The fledgling company manufactures a fabric skirt to prevent the moving parts of armchairs and ottomans from pinching their fingers.
Legbeti and her husband, Emmanuel, met up with Edward “Trip” Coyne, CEO of DockATot, and Brendan Collins, CEO of Mimijumi, this spring. Both established global companies are headquartered here.
Mimijumi, in Wilmington since 2014, when Seahawk Innovations LLC invested in the then Nashville-based business and brought it to town, manufactures and sells baby bottles with nipples that mimic the experience of breastfeeding, allowing babies to alternate gently between the breast and the bottle.
DockATot, whose baby lounge chair and related products are made in Europe but sold worldwide, came to Wilmington in April 2020 when Coyne, a local attorney who served as legal counsel for the company, was chosen. to run the business.
Glider Skirt, which the Legbetis envisioned three years ago, is still a home operation. Most of the company’s sales are through its website, but the owners recently negotiated with Amazon and Walmart to have the skirts also available through these retail giants, which sell armchairs and ottomans. .
To be accepted by large e-merchants, Glider Skirt had to go through procedural steps.
“We have to be approved as a brand, have a registered trademark and all that,” said Amanda Legbeti. “It’s more than we thought, but we’re really concerned about Asian copycats who are Amazon sellers. If you are an approved brand, you can protect your product.
In the month since Glider Skirt became an Amazon Authorized Supplier, sales have been going well, Legbetis said. Their next steps are to hire an Amazon advertising specialist and then build their brand within Walmart.
Despite their best efforts to develop online sales, Legbetis do not overlook in-store options in the local market.
While the Legbetis are working on a small scale to increase their visibility and increase their sales, DockATot and Mimijumi have spread their workforce and sell their products all over the world.
“Our bottles and teats are made in Austria and are sold in over 30 countries,” Collins said. “Sales continue to grow and we are increasingly focusing on direct-to-consumer sales. We sell through Amazon and through our own website; we recognized the trend of online commerce early on. You can be in Wilmington and sell around the world.
Mimijumi now has a complementary sister company. Seahawk Innovation has invested in a Danish company, Natursutten, which specializes in all-natural rubber pacifiers. Natursutten is now headquartered in Wilmington.
The same Brunswick County facility is used for assembly, warehousing and order fulfillment services for both product lines.
DockATot continues to expand its product line. In addition to the two sizes of the original oval-shaped padded lounge chair, the company added a nursing pillow, Moses basket, and play tent.
“DockATot is a fast growing global company,” Coyne said. “In some territories we do direct sales, but in others we work with well-known distributors of children’s products, who have their own sales relationships. … I have added seven people since my arrival on board.
Coyne oversees a global workforce of approximately 25 people and manufacturing is done in several European countries.
A fourth Wilmington-area company, LainSnow, produces specialty swimsuits for babies and toddlers as well as adults. The 4-month-old business operates out of the Ocean Isle Beach home of owner-founder Becca Ingle.
“The idea started about a year ago,” said Ingle. “I had been blogging about family travel for five years and represented other swimwear brands. During COVID, I was doing nothing and wanted to create my own brand, in partnership with other companies. But some friends said I should make my own line [and company]. “
Ingle didn’t have to look far for the name of the company, a play on that of her daughter, Lainey Snow, a 6-year-old who sketched the girls’ high-neck, long-sleeved swimsuits. Ingle also created a look for adult women.
Armed with the concepts, Ingle reached out to the heads of other swimwear brands and asked them how they got started. She was referred to a consultant who knew many swimwear manufacturers and had also started a brand from scratch. The consultant accompanied her through the nine-month gestation process of LainSnow and continues to advise the company.
The California-based maker of Ingle strives to keep production up to date.
Ingle said she “worked full time to get this started; it was just me with no investor. With my initial investment of $ 20,000, I have doubled and now tripled my inventory. My consultant predicts LainSnow will reach $ 1 million by next year.