How One Mompreneur Turned Her Hobby into A Successful Business

Baby Jack & Company Founder Kelley Legler and her kids.
Baby Jack & Company Founder Kelley Legler and her kids.

By Dan Leberman, SVP, Head of SMB and Partner, PayPal 

PayPal is fortunate to work with more than 35 million businesses, the majority of which are small businesses. One of those businesses is Wisconsin-based Baby Jack & Company, a children’s brand that was founded by Kelley Legler in 2009. Soon after giving birth to her son Jack, the recession hit, and Kelley was let go from her job. She didn’t let that slow her down, however, and instead turned what was once her side hobby into a successful business.

We spoke with Kelley to learn what inspired her to launch her business, how she’s preparing for the holiday shopping season, which PayPal tools are helping her business grow, and what advice she has for other entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting their own business.

Dan Leberman: What inspired you to start Baby Jack & Company? 

Lovies Sports

Kelley Legler: Baby Jack & Company is a children's toy manufacturer that designs educational products that help teach, stimulate, and comfort kids of all ages. My son, Jack, was the inspiration behind the business. As a baby, he loved playing with colorful loop ribbons, but one day he got his finger stuck in a ribbon loop tag blanket. That inspired me to create a safer alternative. We sew the ribbons shut so that little fingers and toes don’t get stuck in the loops.

Initially, this started out as a hobby for me. But when the recession hit and I lost my job, I decided to turn my hobby into a real business. Together with my mother-in-law -- who helped me in the earlier years -- I built a business that was all about family, comfort, and creativity. My kids and I began designing the fabrics together, based on inspiration from our own experiences and adventures. As my kids grew, so did the business.

DL: You’re an omnichannel business, selling across multiple channels. Which channels do you sell on?

KL: We sell Baby Jack products on our website, on our social media channels -- including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest -- and in more than 1,200 local stores throughout the U.S. We work with airports, zoos, gardens, museums, aquariums, national parks, historical centers, and even space training centers. Our police, fire, and American flag designs recently started being sold at the 9/11 Memorial Museum gift shop. Partnering with various sellers has helped us expand brand awareness and offerings, which has helped to grow the brand significantly and drive sales. As we’ve grown, we’ve relied heavily on PayPal and PayPal Working Capital , which has helped us invest back into the company and to expand inventory production as demand rises. 

DL: Speaking of PayPal, which PayPal products do you use? And how have they helped your business?


KL: PayPal has been a great partner to Baby Jack & Company from the very beginning. PayPal has a very versatile set of offerings for small businesses, and we use many of them -- from PayPal Checkout to PayPal Invoicing, to PayPal Working Capital -- to help boost our business.

We initially began selling on our Baby Jack & Co. Facebook business page, and we would invoice customers individually via PayPal. That was before we had a website. 

Now, on our website, we offer PayPal Checkout so customers can have an easy and secure checkout experience. 30%Thirty percent  of our customers purchase Baby Jack products via PayPal Checkout on our website, and we invoice 60% of business partners directly from our PayPal account using PayPal Invoicing. We also use PayPal’s QR Codes for quick payments when we’re selling at craft fairs.

Since we started, Baby Jack has relied on PayPal Working Capital loans to access money instantly for things like inventory purchasing.2 This low-risk loan made it easy for us to scale as a small business, and helped us increase inventory to fuel our B2B business-to-business  wholesale store accounts and quickly pay back the loan, pulling directly from our growing sales.3

DL: What are you doing to prepare for the holiday shopping season?

KL: Given all of the shipping delays and logistical issues we’ve encountered in the past, we began shipping more inventory to our Wisconsin warehouse early in anticipation of a successful holiday season. Inventory management has always been an ongoing struggle, but this is a good problem to have for a small, growing business. This year, we’re excited to debut the first of many holiday prints, a special Christmas fabric perfect for baby -- or pet -- stocking stuffers. Finally, we’re working to grow our partnerships with local stores, to expand where Baby Jack products are sold in time for holiday shopping.

DL: Which social channels are you on   and how do you use them to engage with your customers and prospects?

Kid and Lovie

KL: We’re on a range of social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. My marketing experience has taught me the importance of building a brand. The social following of Baby Jack is like a family to us. The insight we get from our social media followers helps us with product development ideas. Our social media followers also help us spread brand awareness, while also inspiring our kindness project of giving back with Baby Jack. Over the years, Baby Jack has gifted thousands of lovey tag toys to families with children in hospitals, to police and fire stations to comfort children during rescue rides, to military base families to ease separation anxiety during deployment, and to nonprofits supporting causes like pediatric cancer, congenital heart defects, neonatal care, and more. We find comfort aligning ourselves with people and businesses that want to do good and give back.

DL: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?  

KL: First, always lead with kindness. After experiencing it firsthand, I'm a huge believer in the fact that you get back what you give. Second, have grit and don't be afraid to fail, pivot, change, and embrace beta test mode. Third, find ways to do things yourself to cut costs and allocate funds towards bigger projects.

1The lender for PayPal Working Capital is WebBank, Member FDIC. 2Subject to eligibility and credit approval, as determined by the lender. 3Results or experience may vary.

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