One of the many reasons moms make such fantastic entrepreneurs is their unflagging ability to get things done. In the case of Baby K’tan, mother of three, Michal Chesal, found that traditional baby carriers just weren’t cutting it for her son, Coby. Coby was born with Down syndrome, and required special support due to weak muscle tone.
Chesal took matters into her own hands, sewing together two separate slings to create one that provided the right type of support for her son. She had the product in hand (and on her back) for several years before turning it into a business. But after people started noticing and inquiring about her custom carrier, Chesal and her future business partner decided to pursue the venture.
Not sure where to begin, they turned to SCORE for direction in sourcing, manufacturing and ultimately bringing their product to market.
Baby K’tan sells about 50,000+ carriers a year, and the company became profitable in 2011. At that time, partners had one full-time and two part-time employees to support the company.
The Baby K'tan line of wraps and slings is now sold by more than 700 U.S. retailers and through seven international distributors. The brand has received much media attention in major outlets through the years, and several celebrities have been spotted out and about with their own K’tan. The company is working hard to expand their offerings and plans to debut a line of complementary baby gear products.
Chesal met with three SCORE mentors, all of whom had extensive experience in the garment industry. They advised Michal that her first step should be sourcing: finding a manufacturer that could produce a high-quality replica of her product idea. They provided her and her business partner with local contacts in the industry and advice on starting out, including tips for incorporating Baby K'tan.
“They set us in the right direction," Chesal says of her mentors. "It was as if we were trying to scale this mountain by climbing randomly every which way, but they provided us with a clear, logical path to reaching the top.”
Now aspiring entrepreneurs regularly contact Baby K’tan looking for advice, and Chesal is more than happy to pay forward the guidance that her SCORE mentors afforded her.