1. What inspired you to start your business?
The idea of my first product, the Snuzi, was inspired by my sweaty head babies. I found breastfeeding to be uncomfortable on my arm due to the combination of baby’s hot head and Hawaii’s humidity. Since I couldn’t find a product out there made specifically to pad the area between baby’s head and my arm, I thought I would create one myself. And then it occurred to me that if I had this problem, then surely other moms share the same discomfort. Hence Mālama Baby (iNurse inStyle back then) was born. My goal was to create other useful and unique products for mommies, daddies, and babies.
2. What were your ultimate goals when you started your business?
I imagined the Snuzi to be the next Boppy, something every mom would put on their baby “must-have” list. But I also knew that it wouldn’t end with just one product. I wanted to create a line of baby products that were just as creative and convenient as the Snuzi.
3. What excites you the most about your products?
I get excited when I come up with a design that works. I love it when I come up with something totally unique, but also love to improve things that already exist in the market. I guess it’s all about being creative and allowing my visions and ideas to come to life. There is a lot of thought that goes into creating each product. Some of the things I think about when working on a product are:
- How can I make it simple and easy to use?
- How can I make it safe? No hazards especially to baby (ie. choking).
- Can it have more than 1 purpose?
- Can it be easy to clean and maintain?
- Don’t make it too bulky or fussy.
4. How do you come up with ideas for your products?
The ones I come up with myself are directly from being a mom myself. Taking care of my children everyday presents all kinds of ideas. But a lot of my ideas come from other moms. They ask me, “How can you make this easier?” Or, “Can you make something that does this?” Then the gears in my head start turning…..and turning….and turning.
5. What challenges do you face with being a busy mom entrepreneur?
As a mother of three children ranging from ages 2 – 9, I know what moms are challenged with in the everyday tasks. Time becomes “gold” as it seems to diminish with having kids. So anything that helps to make things more efficient and convenient is priceless. I think that’s reflected in my products as they all have to do with making things easier. In regards to being an entrepreneur, the challenge is definitely balancing family with business. Of course family comes first and I never want to look back and say that I wish I had spent more time with them. So I do as much as I can with the business and have learned to get help and outsource things where I can. I’ve accepted that having a little one still at home with me, means things just don’t always get done in the timeframe I would like. I have to remind myself to be more realistic in my goal setting with timeframes and I know that eventually it’ll get done. I think the business will always be there, but my little ones will grow up in no time and I can never get that back. It’s all about time management and planning. Sounds simple, but it’s always a work in progress.
6. What challenges do you see other busy moms and dads facing?
I think they deal with similar issues, balancing “busy-ness” with quality family time. Whether you’re a stay-at-home or a full-time parent, there’s still the challenge of setting your priorities and giving your family the quality time you want to spend.
7. What are the most important things that you consider when creating a baby product?
- Safety; no choking hazards, no chance of strangulation or entanglement.
- Ease of use; moms should be able to find it convenient and practical.
- It should look nice; simple and sleek designs.
- Easy for moms to take care of; machine washable and dryer-friendly if possible.
8. What is in the future for Mālama Baby products?
I will always come up with new products that are practical and easy for moms to use. There are so many ideas floating around in my head that I want to work on. I would love to start an organic line and come up with better “green” packaging.
9. Your products’ motto is, “Making mom’s & dad’s lives easier and babies more comfortable.” What exactly do you mean by that?
Mālama Baby products make parent’s lives easier by keeping the everyday things organized, comfy, and tidy. These things include: breastfeeding, changing diapers, putting babies in strollers and high chairs, and being out and about with baby like going for a stroll in the park or shopping at the mall. For example, my Seat Liner fits strollers and high chairs and was designed to be a barrier between messy baby and clean seat. It’s easy to install, remove, and wash. The Seat Liner is also lightly padded and the shell is 100% cotton, so baby is comfortable, too! Another product, the Diaper & Wipes Clutch, is an all-in-one for your diaper changing needs. It fits all the essentials you need, so you’re not fumbling around in the diaper bag looking for things like the diapers, the wipes, the cream/powder, and the changing pad. The built-in changing pad is made with a plush Minky fabric that is so soft against baby’s skin.
10. How do people find out about your products?
I think a lot of moms are introduced to Mālama Baby products because they are received as gifts. Many times a mom will tell me that they love the products so much that they become gift givers themselves and share them with other moms. Gift givers and moms can find Mālama Baby products by various means:
- The best place for everything baby is the Baby Expos in mid-May and mid-October. I often introduce new products and see how they are received at these expos. You can find specific dates, times, and place by clicking on Events.
- A handfull of retails stores carry my product. It’s always nice for my customers to be able to touch and feel the products for themselves. The list of retail stores continue to grow as I expand the company.
- Then there are the various craft fairs I do during the holidays. It’s a gift giver’s paradise.
- Then finally, my website offers all the up-to-date products and fabric lines I carry.
I can’t wait to add joy and Aloha to you and your family!
People often ask how I juggle the roles of businesswoman, wife and mother. That’s easy: Planning! When my boys are at school and my daughter is napping, I focus on my business. All the other hours in the day are spent as mother and wife, with a little time thrown in here and there to check emails, sew and think up new products.
Some of you might be wondering how I met my husband of 11 years. Well, we first met in class at Kapiolani Community College. He was moving toward a certification needed to work in the Emergency Room and I was trying to stockpile experience so I could pursue a degree in the medical profession. The stars aligned, we got married, and created a family. Although I never made it to med school, I can definitely say I went to KCC to meet my husband.
It was our family that gave me the impetus to start this business and create unique products. If I didn’t have trouble finding a product that would work for my son and I, I would have never had the idea of the Snuzi. So thank you, family and especially my sons for providing the reason!
People may look at my life and call it too crazy and too busy. I don’t. I really love the business I’ve created. I get to create new products and it fills my cup to make things to help other moms. Helping to make your lives simpler and happier make everything worthwhile.
What gave you the inspiration behind the Snuzi?
The idea of the Snuzi first came to me when I was breastfeeding my 1st baby in the middle of June. The summer days were hot and I remember how uncomfortable I was breastfeeding him. I would use a burp cloth between his head and my arm but when I would put him down in his crib to sleep, the cloth would fall onto his head and sometimes wake him up. But I didn’t really do anything more than that until I found myself in the same situation with my 2nd baby. I remember going online to see if I could find something designed for that purpose. Finding nothing, I decided that I would try to create something myself. After 1 year and many hours of blood, sweat, and tears, the Snuzi was born and the rest is history.
How does the Snuzi differ form other similar products out there?
Other products aim to solve a similar problem, but the Snuzi is the better product for many reasons. Its sleek contours the arm when bent and has just the right amount of padding and softness. Because it is made to alleviate heat, it’s breathable and uses only natural fibers. It is also convenient to use and carry around. Being a mom myself, I know how important it is for a product to be easy to use. And last but not least, I wanted it to look pretty so moms want to put it on and not feel awkward about it.
What do moms like best about the Snuzi?
“I LOVE the Snuzi! My son runs soooo warm all the time and this keeps both him and me from overheating. It’s cute, small, portable and stays in place. Plus I love the fact that it’s made in Hawaii!”
“My first experience with Malama Baby products was the unique and totally practical Snuzi. Love it, used it with both of my boys, and shared it with other moms who enjoyed using it too.”
Malama Baby strives to make moms’ lives easier and babies more comfortable. We do that by providing practical yet stylish products and we promise to always keep it local and Made in Hawaii. With that, we’d like to introduce some of our most popular products.
Comfort for Mom and Baby
The Snuzi is a patented design that Mom wears on her arm to keep both herself and baby from excessive sweating, thus alleviating the heat and pressure during feedings and/or carrying. The Snuzi is so mom-friendly that it comes in small or large, is reversible, machine washable, and dryer friendly. It wasn’t too long before we discovered that the Snuzi can also be used by dads, tutu, and other caregivers, too!
Changing made easy … and stylish
The Diaper and Wipes Clutch with built in Changing Pad makes changing time a breeze. It’s all-in-one design fits a travel wipes container, up to 3 or 4 diapers, and the luxurious minky changing pad easily folds out. Babies love the feel and moms love the convenience.
This product, like the Snuzi, is machine washable and dryer friendly.
Everything in its place
If you’re a mom on the go, you’ll be organized and chic using the stroller Keiki Caddy. It comes with a cup holder, as well as a small and large pocket. Its adjustable straps make it easily attachable to any stroller and it is great for carrying keys, cell phones, diapers, and wipes.
The first month with a new baby can be the hardest time for a mom. Sometimes it can be kind of a blur because you may not be getting enough rest and relaxation. My husband and I created a routine where I would let him sleep at night so that he could help me to take care of the baby during the day. It allowed me to get the sleep I needed during that time and do all those other things you usually don’t think twice about, like taking a bath, eating, getting dressed, etc. Personally I was really lucky during the first month because my husband, mom, and mother-in- law helped a lot with whatever it was that I needed, especially sleep!
“The first few days after birth are sometimes called the ‘taking in’ phase of postpartum adjustment,” says Nicole Rawson, Certified Nurse Midwife, of Magee Women’s Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Your body is going through many physical and emotional changes as you begin to ‘take in’ the reality that the baby is here, and you are no longer a pregnant woman, but a mother now.”
Labor pains vary from woman to woman, and even between pregnancies. My personal experience is that it didn’t differ between my babys’ gender or the amount of children I have. The duration of labor may decrease, but the pain will almost always remain. I was induced with my first child and the labor seemed unreal, the worst pain in my life. I really wanted to go “all natural”, without drugs. I’m not sure if being induced had a significant effect, but 13 hours after and being only 3 cm dilated, I threw in the towel and begged for the epidural. I did finally give birth 8 hours later. For the next two pregnancies, I decided that I would forgo the desire to go through so much pain, and requested for the epidural the first moment I could.
I have to say, though, that the pain is always worth the baby they put in you arms when it is all over.
“The most important thing you can relax during labor is your mind,” says Stacey Rees, a certified nurse-midwife at Clementine Midwifery, in Brooklyn, New York.
My general opinion on C-sections changed with time. I was very lucky to be able to have all of my children naturally, although the possibility of a C-section came up when I was ready to give birth to my little girl. Everything looked ok until 3 days before she was due when she “decided” to turn around into the breached position. Fortunately my doctor was able to quickly and painlessly turn her and less than 5 hours later, my daughter was born.
Even though I didn’t have a C-section, I believe that those mothers that did should try and get as much help and rest as possible. You are the most important person when it comes to recovering and we need to be healthy and strong for our little ones!