Infantile Inventions

Look Who's Buying

If you want to get your baby product in retail stores, try contacting buying groups. Individual baby stores frequently band together to form buying groups, not only to get better name recognition, but also to negotiate better prices from big vendors.

When Shawn Boice started In Touch LLC in Bothell, Washington, in 1999, she first sold her Carseat Companion to individual stores. Boice, whose product is a mirror that helps parents keep tabs on their babies while driving, says, "The product was a big hit at every store, and some of the store owners told me I should contact corporate headquarters for bigger orders."

The first major event where Boice met representatives of buying groups was the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) show in Dallas. Not long after returning home, Boice, 39, she used success at the JPMA show to get the attention of other buying groups, too.

According to Boice, buying groups gave her an advantage by opening the other two avenues into the market. Groups offer a catalog of products that member stores can buy from, and they host their own trade shows where store owners can place orders.

Before finally becoming an entrepreneur, Shawn Boice was employed as a pediatric nurse, where she met new parents all the time. "I heard complaints from my patients about rear-facing car seats, but I never realized how big a problem it was until I had my own child [in 1998]," she says. "I wanted so badly to see how my child was doing, and I didn't like only seeing the back of the car seat."

So in 1999, she developed the Carseat Companion, which retails for $24.95. It comes with a mirror that attaches to the back seat so that a driver can look through her own rear-view mirror to see a baby in the rear-facing car seat.

Boice started her business cautiously at first because she was funding the invention on her own. She began by making a few of the mirrors at home and selling them in the pediatrician's office where she worked. After finding success there, she sold on consignment at a local baby store. When that lot sold out, Boice took her product to other local baby stores and eventually started marketing through baby-products buying groups.

"Sales have been wonderful," says Boice, who's bringing in $125,000 every three months. "I need 5,000 new Carseat Companions every two to three months."

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the October 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Infantile Inventions.

Loading the player ...

2014's Most Overhyped Innovation

Ads by Google

Share Your Thoughts

Connect with Entrepreneur

Most Shared Stories