I have the pleasure introducing super mamma – Anna Lapta. Anna is the mother of three kids, interior and graphic designer, aircraft designer and inventor. Her recent invention, BabyComfit Under - All Pants, is gaining popularity among many moms. I was very fortunate to sit down with Anna and talk about her life journey, the invention of the Under-All Pants and her business and family balance. Anna shared great insights about her process navigating the land of entrepreneurship as a busy momma.
Can you tell me a bit about your background?
Yes. I was born in Kazakhstan, and at the age of sixteen My family and I moved to Kamchatka (Russia) where I lived for another sixteen years. In Kamchatka, I established myself as an interior designer, got married and gave birth to my first child Leo. When I was 31, I moved to Seattle, Washington to start my new life in the new country. In Seattle, I continued to work as an interior designer for a few years until the market went down in 2008. Then, I went to school to study design engineering and eventually landed a job at the Boeing Company. Right now I'm a stay home mom continue taking design classes and just launched my brand new Babycomfit business.
Can you share when did you give birth to your other two children?
Yes. It wasn't intentionally, but I have three children and each of them was born in a different country! The first one, my son Leo was born in Moscow, Russia in 2000. Then when I got married again in Seattle, we had our daughter London in the United States. Since my husband is originally from Canada, we decided to move to Canada and had another daughter, Victoria, in Canada.
You seem like a very proactive individual working on your business around your family schedule. Do you think it is important to show your children your professional side?
As a mom, you’re setting an example for your children. They absorb everything like a sponge. It is important to show them that a stay-at-home mom who constantly taking care of the family which I absolutely love to do, but also have inspirations and goals. I want them to know how important to explore this world and find something they are passionate about.
What are the top three things you want to teach your children?
1. Find your true passion.
People spend a lots of time at work they don't like. If you just do the work that pays you well, eventually you will feel that something is missing. You often hear people say that “I would love to do this but it doesn’t pay well….” I believe if there is a will – there will be a way to achieve your goal.
2. Life is short.
Enjoy your life and celebrate every little successes. Be happy with every single thing you achieve. Celebrate with joy like a kid. I keep the goofy spark with my children through daily activities and play. I always have 20 minutes a day for my daughter to play the game she likes. Because of the Halloween season when she breaks or spills something she always says "Witch did it!". Then I would say “Oh no, I saw that witch in the window!" And we start fighting the witch we created in our imagination. This way I keep the connection with my children in a creative and fun way.
3. Show your children the value of productive work.
I am always striving towards balance so it is important for me to show this side of me to my children.
Whenever I need time to do my work: reply to an email or talk to a customer, I explain to London that I need this time, and right after I'm done, we are going to do art or will go to playground with picnic (her favorite thing to do)). She seems to be cooperative for most of the time.
Let’s talk about your latest invention BabyComfit All-Over Pants. Could you share your story, how did you start?
When my older daughter was about 5 months, we were very active, going to friends’ houses, restaurants, traveling, etc. I liked dressing her up in beautiful dresses and baby outfits but I faced a challenge with baby tights. They only went to the waistline, and when I or a friend was lifting up London, her tback got exposed, and I was constantly worried that she might get sick. I also didn’t like how tights were very tight on the waist area squishing her stomach and leaving a mark on her tummy. I started to look for something that is more comfortable for my daughter. And I couldn't find anything. Then, I decided to design my own. I did some drawings, bought fabric and created my first prototype. My daughter wore this piece for seven months. My husband liked the idea and asked me once "would you think it will be a great product?" And that's how babycomfit was born.
How did you look for a manufacturing facility?
I started with Google. Then I found a company and website that rates manufacturing facilities and decided to go with China. Originally I selected 72 companies, then narrowed it down to 5 then to only one. My criteria for collecting the facility were based on quality, process, and communication.
How long was the process to create and manufacture the garments?
It was a very long process because my product is original and there was no template the manufacturing facility could use as a reference. There are many important tiny details. We went through 10 samples back and forth. It took me almost two years to finally launch the final product.
How many colours do you currently have?
The product comes in 4 colours. After the research, I found out that dark blue, pink, cream and grey match better with everything.
Are there sizes or does it go by age? How long would such product last?
Yes, there are two sizes that go by age: first size 0-9 months and the second 9-18. The latter has the stopper rubbers on the shoes to protect the baby from falling on slippery surfaces. Each piece has 3 adjustable snaps to readjust the garment for the baby’s height. So the under-all pants should last nine months or longer. It grows with your baby and very economical which is important for moms.
What challenges did you face while designing the product?
The material itself was very difficult to select and required a lot of testing. For example, some material we tried looked very good at first but in time would start to stretch out and cause saggy knees. So we had to do a lot of trial and error. Eventually, we settled on 85% cotton, 10% spandex, and 5% elastin.
What was your first reaction when you finally got your product at your doorstep?
I was excited and worried at the same time! I was planning to sell on Amazon, but ran into delays so I decided to sell through my website, and local stores.
How do you market your product and how can people know about your product?
BabyComfit Under-All Pants can be purchased on my website https://www.babycomfit.com/. I also participate in trade shows. Recently I went to the Baby Bump trade show close to Seattle where BabyComfit sold really well. I got a lot of positive feedback and encouragement there. I am also working on building relationships with local stores to make BabyComfit available in physical stores.
Did you patent your product?
What advice can you give to other moms looking to patent their product?
I would suggest doing the patent process through a local company. When I tried to do business with the California office, there were many extra charges and fees. When you do business with local people, you can see the people, the company, and choose who you feel comfortable with.
It seems like your product will soon become very popular and will require a serious time commitment. How are you planning to balance this with your children?
I have my family support because my mom lives here. My husband is very supportive with the kids so I can count on him. He is helping me with my business too.
My business is like welcoming a new baby! I always love to see when there is support from the people around you – it helps me find and maintain that family-business balance.
What advice can you give to a mom who wants to start her own business?
Maybe you like to teach or create things with your hands. Maybe you want to sell something? What will keep you going during restless nights?
2. Forget about perfection.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. When you grow little humans, as a mom you will run into unpredictable events and this is okay. Just keep moving. Ask for help a professional if you stuck.
3. Building a business does require an investment, but you can define how much you’re willing to put forth.
There is always a way of how to find money for your business; Credit card, investor, savings maybe, planning your life your spending helps a lot. We buy things we don't necessary need, start to save money etc.