Baby K'tan Thrives With Guidance From SCORE Mentor
One of the many reasons why Moms make such fantastic entrepreneurs is their universal ability to get things done. In the case of Baby K’tan, mother of 3, Michal Chesal found that traditional baby carriers just weren’t cutting it for her son, Coby, who was born with Down syndrome and required special support because of poor muscle tone. So Michal took matters into her own hands, sewing together two separate slings to create one that provided the correct type of support. 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, Michal and her future business partner decided to give the venture a real go. 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 items a year and the company became profitable in 2011. The partners have one full-time and two part-time employees. The product is now sold in 700 U.S. retailers and through seven international distributors. The brand has received much media attention in major outlets and several celebrities have been spotted out and about with their own K’tan. The company is working hard to expand their offerings and hopes to soon debut a line of complementary baby gear products.
Michal met with 3 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 their venture.
Michal speaks of her mentors’ guidance saying, “They set us in the right direction. 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 Michal is more than happy to pay forward the guidance that her SCORE mentors afforded her.