As a new mom myself I can say this with authority: Having a baby is pretty all-consuming. I consider it a win if I can shower, brush my teeth and get dressed without being interrupted by a crying little guy. Which is why I’m especially impressed with Monica Royer, the founder of kids’ clothing line Monica & Andy. Because in the middle of the chaos that comes with being a first-time mom, she had an idea for a company … and actually acted on it.
While I bow down, read on to see how she turned her idea into a thriving brand.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT MONICA + ANDY.
Monica + Andy is a baby brand that I started just after my daughter is born. It is named after my brother and I, based on the aspiration that siblings will be best friends. We are focused on baby essentials that are “better”. We focus on comfort, fit, and fabric. All of our baby fabrics are organic and are free of lead, phthalates, and flame-retardants. We are also very focused on customer experience. Our first guideshop in [Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood] is interactive with children’s clases beginning at 3 months. In New York City we have a same-day delivery service for gifters as well as new moms so we can get our items delivered to your doorstep same day.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START IT?
I was inspired to start the brand by my daughter. While I have always been interested in fashion, I became obsessed with baby fashion after she was born. I was surprised at how scratchy many of the fabrics were and was concerned about the first things that were touching her skin. It really evolved from there.
WHAT WAS THE START-UP PROCESS LIKE? HOW DID YOU TAKE YOUR COMPANY FROM AN IDEA TO A BUSINESS?
It was a process. I stayed at home with my daughter for the first three years after leaving my corporate job. I only worked on the business during nap-time and bedtime for her. However I took daily inspiration from what we were doing and built the aesthetic of the brand around that. In the meantime I met a lot of other moms who helped to work with me. From photography to customer experience, we built a small team who helped to launch the brand.
WHAT WERE THE EARLY DAYS IN BUSINESS LIKE?
It was a lot of kids running around while the moms met to do the planning. Since then we have built a slightly bigger team and there are still kids running around.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST MAJOR SUCCESS AS A COMPANY?
Honestly I feel like just getting through the day sometimes in a success. I measure success in how I balance work and being a mom. Some days are more successful then others.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
My biggest learning experience is realizing how little I actually know. It is humbling to start a company. Much like parenthood, it unveils your weaknesses quickly. You have to accept that you can’t possibly know and do everything and set out to find other people that can fill in some of the pieces.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR CLOTHING DESIGNS?
My clothing designs have been highly inspired by looking at the world through my daughters eyes. Much of the original design work we do on the blankets might be animals her and I have seen at the zoo or things we have read about together. I want the clothing to be beautiful from the parent’s perspective but I want kids to look at the prints and be excited by them as well.
WHY DO YOU THINK PARENTS ARE RESPONDING TO YOUR BUSINESS?
I hope it is because we try to see the world as new parents do. I remember how beautiful and terrifying those first few days home with your new baby can be. I built the brand around that experience to try and share with other parents what I wish I could have had for Bella and would have known in those first months and years.
BESIDES JUST MAKING GORGEOUS BABY CLOTHES, MONICA & ANDY ALSO HAS A PHILANTHROPIC ARM. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT WHY YOU’VE MADE IT YOUR MISSION TO GIVE BACK, AND SOME OF THE ORGANIZATIONS YOU’VE WORKED WITH?
We have been fortunate to work with so many other organizations who do such an amazing job of giving back. One of my personal favorites is More than Milk based here in Chicago. They are not only incredible in their giving back but part of their mission is to teach kids to give back as well. In 2016 we are going to start a Kindness Calendar. We are excited to take some of what we have worked on to the next level this year.
YOU’VE BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR JUST OVER TWO YEARS. WHERE DO YOU ENVISION THE BRAND IN TWO MORE?
Every day is an adventure. It is hard to say sometimes where we will be. I hope that we will be just as inspired and excited about what we are doing today as we will be two years from now.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
“Its now or never.” My brother told me that once and it still rings so true. Sometimes you just have to take the leap and see where you land. If you don’t, you might not get the chance again.