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Monday
Jun252012

An Interview with Storksak and Babymel's Founders Melanie Marshall and Suzi Bergman

Club MomMe absolutely loves Storksak and Babymel diaper bag lines!  Carrying a Storksak Diaper Bag has made my life so much easier as a mom in that I am organized and everything has a place (no more losing my keys give times a day!), the bag is stylish and sophisticated and yet easy to clean, and seamlessly transitions from days at the park to mom’s nights out.  

Storksak was started by two moms who wanted a better diaper bag.  They are not just moms and entrepreneurs, they are mompreneurs, and their story should inspire any woman who wants to start her own business or do their own thing after having a baby.  Melanie Marshall and Suzi Bergman are just like so many of us, who just so happen to make two incrediblely beautiful lines of diaper bags. So let’s dive right in:

What inspired you to create a line of diaper bags?

(melanie marshall) I was inspired to design diaper bags after having a child of my own. After my husband and I had our first son, I found that there were no changing bags available that met my requirements. Having worked as a fashion designer for many years, and knowing that there was a need for good quality, stylish and functional baby bags, I realized there was a great opportunity to fill the gap in the market.

What is your approach to designing diaper bags?  Does form follow function or how do you go about designing a new bag?

(melanie marshall) Storksak designs are often inspired by contemporary fashion, but we don’t follow it slavishly – our customers generally want to invest in a more classic, enduring style. By bringing that design vision together with durability, which has always been demanded in this category, we aim to give our customers a product which survives the rough ride metered out by modern parents. Storksak provides great fashionable baby changing bags for parents that want a high quality product without having to sacrifice any functionality. We've found that modern parents are willing to spend a bit more on our bags as they know that they are investing in something that will last beyond the baby-stage and become a stylish accessory for years to come.

How do you decide what features to include in each bag?

(melanie marshall) All of our range includes features we believe are most important – wipe clean linings, lots of compartments, a padded changing mat and an insulated bottle holder or insulated bottle pocket. We have designed other bags with additional features to suit certain parents’ needs, such as built-in stroller straps on the Tania and Nina and a pop-out organizer on the Helena.

How is the Babymel line of Diaper Bags different from Storksak?

(suzi bergman) After the success of Storksak, we decided to launch a fashion conscious 'sister' brand that was positioned below Storksak in the market and targeted a younger, more modern parent. Babymel bags include most of the functional features seen in Storksak bags, but are a more affordable alternative. All Babymel bags come with signature built-in strollerstraps, are extremely lightweight, and many feature our original prints, which we design in-house.

How did you two decide to work together, and what is it like having a partner in business?

(melanie marshall) Suzi and I became friends when I was working as a designer in a fashion company and Suzi was a law professor. We met outside our kid’s school, and realized we had a great idea, and thought our combined skills were ideal for launching a business together.  We both had a strong desire to create stylish, functional solutions for modern parents and, at the same time, wanted to determine our own schedules, so we could be available for our families.  Flexibility was and still is paramount to us.

(suzi bergman) Having a partner in business is so important, especially if you have different skills. Because Melanie and I had different professional backgrounds but were in similar positions as parents when we met, we knew that we could support each other while balancing our work life with our family life. We both work the same amount of hours, and make sure we leave on time so that we can spend as much time as possible with our families.

What steps did you take that you think best set you up for success?

(suzi bergman) We refused to take no for an answer! You have to be confident and extremely determined in order to successful. We have also reacted to the needs of different markets.  Several seasons ago, we were given feedback that some of our bags were too big for a certain territory, we designed a smaller, more lightweight bag the next season to respond to their needs. For example, the Jools was designed specifically for the Asian market. Funnily enough, it then became very popular in the US! You have to be willing to take feedback on board.

What advice do you have for other aspiring mompreneurs?

(suzi bergman) Market research is crucial in order to find a gap in the market and stand out from your competition. Make sure you really believe in your product too and feel passionate about it.

(melanie marshall) Also, it is critical to have a good business plan and a great quality product. Big retailers are always looking for new, innovative and exciting products. Don’t be afraid to approach them from the beginning.

If you could go back and give yourself advice from when you were just starting Storksak, what would it be?

(suzi bergman) I would encourage myself to talk to as many other people in business as possible and get as much advice as I could before starting out.

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