Believe in yourself. You are the heartbeat of your brand and you understand it best. Trust your instincts it will lead to great things!
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dahlia Rizk from Buckle Me Baby Coats.
Dahlia Rizk is a single mom of three raising her children in snowy New Hampshire. She is the founder and inventory of Buckle Me Baby Coats — a coat designed to be used safely in the car seat that was recently seen on Shark Tank. Dahlia has a background in mental health and treats PTSD in the multi-clinician private practice she founded with a friend 12 years ago. Dahlia enjoys escape rooms, reading, learning new things, and in her spare time she sells coats.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I am the daughter of immigrants. My parents immigrated to the United States from Egypt looking for a better life and opportunities. As a child both my parents always had projects and small businesses running out of our dining room in addition to their day jobs.
I grew up around new ideas and entrepreneurship.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
I am a mental health clinician by trade and a patent holder/productpreneur by circumstance. As a young mom I was very careful about car seat safety and I was surprised to learn that winter coats were dangerous. The more I struggled daily to take my little ones coat off the more I thought — coats should not be dangerous!
One day — completely fed up with the daily struggle — I came up with a better idea — a coat that would work safely in the car seat. I shopped my idea around to every kids coat manufacturer imaginable and they all felt that coats did not need to be redesigned for the car seat.
I know other parents needed easier, safer coats just like I did so I decided to make them myself.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started I had no design, sewing, or production background whatsoever so I often relied on what was already on the market for background information like standard coat sizes. When sending in measurements for my first pattern I realized that the sleeve length in a pattern and a sleeve length on a finished sleeve are different but I wasn’t sure by how much so I estimated. My first sample came back and the sleeves were too long! At first I thought I would have to remake all my patterns but then thinking about how kids grown.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have always loved Joy Manganos story who invented the Miracle Mop and of course Sarah Blakely who invented Spanx. They both saw needs in the market and came up with better ways to do things. Neither found success right away but believed in their ideas and bootstrapped their way into getting their product into every house through hard work, and creativity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If you treat your idea like an idea it will always be just an idea. If you treat it like its real — it will become real.
Give it the same attention you would give a job — clock in and clock out — create goals and deadlines and you will be soaring before you know it.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand? What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
A lifestyle brand inspires, educates, and motivates — there’s a conversation between the brand and the customers. Buckle Me Baby Coats is all about car seat safety and that transcends our product — car seat friendly coats. While talking to parents and caregivers we give lots of options on winter car seat safety. Obviously our goal as a company is to sell coats but my mission as a mother is to provide parents with alternatives to dangerous traditional coats so I talk about ponchos, blankets, and light fleece jackets as acceptable alternatives too.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Life is Good, Aviator Nation, and Ben and Jerry are all amazing examples of brands that extend beyond their product through the social work they do nationally, and the community work they do locally. Each company has amazing heart that shows in their voice and often in their activicism.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
I don’t think its about wanting to create something people are in love with and crazy about. I think you first have to be passionate about something then share that with others. Otherwise it is a disingenuous marketing ploy that shows.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Forgetting their audience and focusing too much on the entrepreneur or owners story. Your audience will be interested in peeks into your story but ultimately they are interested in their needs being met and to meet their needs you need to listen to their stories and not get caught up in telling your own.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
Always start with a sample and a focus group of people who don’t know you! Your loved ones — out of love for you — will either cheer you off a cliff or scare you away from the risk. Hop on your town page and ask strangers to meet up for an hour (when COVID is over of course) and show them your product. Don’t say too much and listen carefully to the feedback. Is it easy to understand your product, do people need your product, is it easy to use your product?
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Listen your audience — what do they like what do they dislike? If you ask them they will tell you and if you listen and make the changes they like they will love your brand even more!
2. Share your story and journey. Your audience believes in you and cheers you on. It might seem easy to share only the wins but sharing your lows will help you find the motivation to keep going but also may motivate someone who needed to see its not always about the win.
3. Believe in yourself. You are the heartbeat of your brand and you understand it best. Trust your instincts it will lead to great things!
4. Don’t listen to other peoples “no” especially in the beginning. People are afraid of change and successful brands are changemakers — learn to ignore it and press on
5. Try new things and ignore the gurus. If you think you’ll find success in a book or blog get in line behind the million other people who read that same book. Keep trying new things until you find what pans out.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Parents should never have to make the choice between their child’s warmth and car seat safety. Parents have to worry about so many dangers — COVID, sharp objects, small objects, falls, guns, the list goes on and on…. A childs winter coat should not be on a parents worry list. Parents should never have to make the choice between their child’s warmth and car seat safety.
I want ALL coats to be designed for the car seats.
Buckle Me Baby Coats are worry-free, designed for car seat safety — quick and easy. Just like all kids winter coats should be someday.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.