BabyBjörn is one of the top-notch brands in the Baby Carriers category, and has presence in more than 50 countries around the world. Kelly Ryan, Director of Marketing and Merchandising at BabyBjörn, Inc, shares the brand philosophy, recent developments and drawing out the core values of the BabyBjörn in this exclusive interview with Mommy & Baby Times (MBT).
March 19, 2019
MBT: Please tell us a brief history of BabyBjörn?
Kelly Ryan: BabyBjörn was founded in Sweden in 1961 by Björn and Lillemor Jakobson. They had actually launched with the Baby Bouncer first, and it was called Baby Sitter back then. And then, we really just continued to grow the assortment, and Baby Carriers have been one of our top categories. Considering how important plenty of closeness is for newborns, Hjärtenära (“Close to Heart”) was launched in 1973, giving parents in Europe the means to carry their babies safely on their chest. Working with the commitment to make everyday life easier for families with young children by developing innovative products for children up to the age of three years, we have introduced various products and product categories gradually over a period of time.
MBT: How would you describe the evolution of the brand?
KR: BabyBjörn has these major product categories: Baby Carriers, Baby Bouncers, Travel Crib and Cradle, and products for Kitchen and Bathroom. Speaking about the recent evolution, I would like to say that we have been constantly evolving even within the category of Baby Carriers and have been adding new fabrics. This year, we’ve launched the 3D jersey and the 3D mesh which is a really unique fabric for the baby carrier space that has typically always been a cotton or cotton-blend. We also do kitchen wear, and offer feeding sets that are really geared towards allowing baby to self-discover eating so they have a sense of control and ownership over their feeding experience. This includes an ergonomic High Chair that’s easy to pack up for storage in small spaces. Other items like our Cradle and Travel Crib are fantastic, especially with how easy they are to set up and start using right away. The Travel Crib packs up small and weighs only 13 lbs making it super easy to travel with. The Cradle would certainly be great for those early months home from the hospital, having baby close next to your bed for easy access. It’s also light-weight so you can move it from room to room.
“We had launched the 3D jersey and the 3D mesh in 2018 which is a really unique fabric for the baby carrier space that has typically always been a cotton or cotton-blend.”
MBT: As you had mentioned that you have quite an elaborate product range, going in for different applications. So, what kind of advantages does this offer to the brand?
KR: We want to be a lifestyle brand for the parents, so believing that, the parents are coming home and they are using our Baby Carrier Mini for those first few months to really create those bonding moments, but then, also considering that they place their trust in the brand for carrying their child gives us a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Our kitchen products come in cheerful colors, like plates, bibs and cups, and they are cleverly designed, sturdy and durable and also make mealtimes more fun for children. In the Bathroom product category, with our practical Step Stool, a child can reach the bathroom sink and toilet on their own. We have an ergonomic Bouncer seat, on which the baby can nap, rest and play safely and comfortably in the baby bouncer, while the parent gets a chance to take a shower, unload the dishwasher etc. These little things make a parent’s life easier and then having them go from a bouncer to the nap time, so putting the baby in a Travel Crib or a Cradle. The parents really can progress with the brand for their various needs, let’s just say that it’s a complete brand for the family that grows with your little one.
MBT: What are the core values of the company?
KR: We have six core values i.e. Safety, Quality, Style, Passion, Caring and our Swedish roots. Safety always is the first and foremost priority for us. Quality means that we are completely assured that we’re partnering with the right manufacturers. All of our materials are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 Class 1 certified which is the most stringent classification or standard to have when it comes to the textiles that are used with babies. Style, knowing how important it is that our carriers, for example, can be worn by both the parents and it’s not something that is gender-specific. Having it be stylish, for us, is really important as you would see with our new line that we’ll be launching soon, and you might have seen in the past years also, that is, having colours that are on trend: those fresh new spring-looks or fall-looks. But then, we also have the other side of things that aren’t necessarily product-specific, but it’s much more about being caring and passionate. Another core value is the fact that we’re Swedish, how we raise our children in Sweden and how we go about every part of parenting is really unique. There are certainly some aspects like co-parenting, paternity leave in Sweden is very much mandatory, a father would have to be taking that time off to spend with his child. I think that can be seen in that the founder of our company is a male and he was very much invested in those bonding moments with his nieces, nephews, and his own children. Thus, being caring and passionate for the next generation, making sure that our products are not only sustainable, and of an heirloom quality, but, just knowing that we are creating something beautiful and great with the bonding, gives us immense satisfaction.
“Babies are being carried throughout the world every day in BABYBJÖRN Baby Carriers, close to a parent’s chest. And every day we receive positive feedback from parents who are enjoying being close to their baby. Nothing makes me happier or prouder.”
– Björn Jakobson
MBT: Are there any recent developments at BabyBjörn?
KR: As I had mentioned, the 3D Mesh and the 3D jersey Materials are the two recent innovations when it comes to fabrics. They have been received very well in the marketplace. We’re always trying to strive for sustainability in the best way possible for the brand and so, we’d be continuing to try to incorporate more of organic materials. Another really exciting occurrence for the brand has just happened is that we launched our North American office. It’s actually based out of New York and this is the first time that it is a wholly-owned subsidiary in the United States, taking over control for US and Canada.
MBT: Would you like to share something about the manufacturing capabilities?
KR: One thing, I think, that really separates us and the major point of difference that is there, is that we have a lot of control over the quality and the safety of our products. For instance, our buckles and any of the hard parts that are used in our carriers are actually designed and manufactured in Sweden. The place that they are designed is literally a ten-minute drive to where they are produced which ensures that we are holding a good control and check on the quality. As a matter of fact, our teams regularly visit on a weekly basis to make sure that the products are up to our standards.
MBT: So, it’s a collaborative procedure…
KR: Yes, it’s a very collaborative process, and actually, a lot of our manufacturing partners have been associated with the brand for 30+ years. So, these are long-term, family-owned brands, just like BabyBjörn. We do not have any outside investments and we are not owned by any private equity firms. We are owned and operated 100% by the Jakobson family and that is something I would say is another really great feature as we have the flexibility to make what is right for us and not be pressured by any outside forces. Coming back to the actual product, although the buckles and the hard parts are being made in Sweden, we’re always exploring where materials can be produced that would help the local communities, whether that be it in Turkey or China, or anywhere in the world. We’re always mindful and trying to make sure that we’re leaving and allowing for positive impacts in whichever way it’s possible.