Mother Knows Best
For Julie Dix, adding soft satin tags to her son's blanket led to the creation of a multimillion-dollar business.
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This story first appeared in the March 2008 issue of Startups. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.What: Toys, clothing, blankets and books for infants and toddlers
Who: Julie Dix and Danielle Ayotte of Taggies
Where: Spencer, Massachusetts When: Started in 1999 Startup costs: $10,000
When Julie Dix, a stay-at-home mother of three, first noticed the wear and tear on the border of her son's favorite blanket, she decided to fix the blanket herself by sewing looped satin ribbons around its edges.
Her son loved the ribboned blanket so much that Dix, 42, decided to make more blankets for the children of family members and friends, and Danielle Ayotte, 39, was one of the lucky recipients. The two quickly noticed their children's fascination with the ribbon tags, and before they knew it, the Taggies concept was born. "The real reason Taggies works is that children rub those ribbons and feel comforted and secure," says Ayotte, who is also a mother of three.
In 1999, the pair began selling at local craft fairs in central Massachusetts and got such a strong response that in December that year, they braved the doors of local boutiques. The blankets were soon in high demand, and Dix and Ayotte worked on developing new items. Today, the product line includes toys, children's apparel, bedding and even books, after a deal with Scholastic in 2003. The items, which all feature the signature satin tags, can be found in baby boutiques across the nation as well as national catalogs and well-known retailers such as Babies "R" Us and Nordstrom.
This year, Taggies plans to expand to additional countries such as Japan. With Ayotte's background in home health care and Dix's in education, the duo is grateful for their smooth transition into the business world. "If it's not fun, we won't do it anymore," says Dix. They project sales of their products to reach between $10 million and $15 million in 2008 and joke that Taggies has become their fourth child.
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