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Karen Barski launched KB Designs, LLC in 2008. As the maker of the Woombie baby swaddle and newest brand Mod’Swad, Karen continues to identify the needs of parents and babies which always brings her to the drawing board to design new innovative eco’friendly products. She is a mother of five with a 19-year nursing background and is a Certified Newborn Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, Infant Sleep Consultant and Parenting Consultant.
The Woombie allows for natural movement, softly cocooning your baby without restricting mobility or development. The Woombie has been shown to promote a more natural and peaceful sleep environment for infants resulting in longer periods of sleep with less restlessness- which is why Infant Care Experts recommend the Woombie to institute successful sleep patterns from birth to 6 months.
MO: Were you always interested in entrepreneurism or did you have an “aha” moment that inspired you to launch your business?
Karen: My AHA moment came when I could not find a safe swaddle for my baby girl. She came five weeks early and had a super startle reflex with mighty-mouse strength. We tried every swaddle we could find; even the ones with Velcro – nothing worked. She unraveled herself within 15 minutes…ALL NIGHT LONG, EVERY NIGHT. I found Bella time and time again with the swaddle blanket unwrapped and up over her face making her hot and red – very scary to say the least.
Clearly there was a need for a different solution. So, I used my nursing background to design a safer alternative to swaddle blankets in the market . One sleepless night, I took out my grandmother’s sewing machine and created the first Woombie. I sewed and sewed until my daughter was gently “contained” in a peanut-shaped cocoon. She stayed intact and snug, but at the same time she could stretch if needed and the fabric would then automatically re-conform to the snug cocoon – just like in the womb. After the product worked miracles, I knew I could successfully sell the product to the world.
MO: How long did it take from initially having the idea for the Woombie to actually getting it to market?
Karen: It took approximately 10 months. Two months to make my contacts and two months of prototyping abroad. After the prototyping was confirmed and perfect, production took four months and finally two months in transit to the USA. (Note: Picture of first prototype attached)
MO: What have been some of the key elements of setting up a successful Ecommerce store?
Karen: Knowing your market and demographics and having an understanding of how Google and search engines work. I taught myself how to manage Google AdWords. Paying close attention to website and Adwords analytics is crucial. Using a weak keyword phrase or combination, setting the daily budget too low, not testing ads, or other factors can create a drop in sales or on the other end of the spectrum, can increase advertising costs tremendously. We have learned to balance our Google marketing to make sure we reach the right audience on a consistent basis. Learning how to market yourself so customers land on your page versus the competitors has been an integral part of our success
MO: What inspired you to launch your new brand, Mod’Swad?
Karen: Although the Woombie is available in multiple colors and designs, I was looking to make the Woombie more fashionable and upgrade the fabric from cotton to something more luxurious (Heathered Bamboo, Muslin, Cotton or 100% Australian Merino Wool). The design has a vintage fish-tale look which is both fashionable as well as functional as it allows the length of the fabric to be adjusted with a knot as the baby grows. Now parents can receive the same benefits of a great swaddle, but in a more fashion-forward way.
MO: How do you combine running a successful and growing business with being a mother to 5 children? How do you find time to be creative and bring your ideas to life?
Karen: I have a rigid daily routine. Mornings are always busy answering emails, overlooking orders and prepping the kids for school. This is followed by product design, packaging/graphics, marketing projects, accounting , more emailing, telephoning and working with China. Owning your own business is 24-7 – especially an eCommerce Store – but it’s important to separate family time, and – if possible – even integrate family into your work, like when I brought my daughter along to China when I went there to inspect and meet the manufacturer…or when I answer emails at night with the two twins on my lap. Balancing creativity with motherhood is not difficult. The kids inspire me endlessly in designing new and innovative products. For instance, my kids always lost their pacifiers so we designed a blanket that attaches to the pacifier – we called is the Mo’Mo Blanket (the name actually inspired by my oldest daughter Morgan whose nickname used to be Mo’Mo when she was little). Yes, I am an entrepreneur, but first and foremost I am a mom so as a parent I come across the same problems and when I cannot find a good solution, I go to the drawing board to create something new. Also, optimal time management skills and the ability to seriously multitask is essential!
MO: One of your favorite Books is “The Secret” – which provides a code that you and your family live by. For those of us unfamiliar with the book, what is it about and how have you applied concepts of the book to your life?
Karen: Ah… my favorite subject! Anyone who knows me knows that I use the “Secret” (book by author Rhonda Byrne) in my life every single day. This book has helped me in essentially every area of my life. The success I have – both personally and professionally, are due to its many teachings. To an amazing marriage; being a parent to 5 beautiful, smart, healthy children; my success as an entrepreneur; being healthy physically and mentally; to even my strong and empowered state of mind. Plainly put, whatever you believe you will achieve! Think it, truly envision it as “already achieved”- believing that it is yours, and it will flow to you through the universal laws of attraction. I literally live my life every single day using these laws and BELIEVE ME – it WORKS!!!! Whether you are struggling financially, personally, with love or health – or none of these at all – you will see positive changes in you, your life, or possibly help bring positive changes to someone else’s life.