Take it easy on yourself! You have to be critical of your work, but remember you are going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over it. I spent 3k dollars on my initial designs. I could have gotten better work for 1k dollars, and later I did, but I had to go through doing it the wrong way to get it right.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Baker. He is the owner of DadWare LLC. He lives in Los Angeles, CA along with his wife, Dawn, and daughter Eva.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
DadWare started with the birth of our daughter, Eva. My wife, Dawn, was unable to bond immediately after birth, so I listened to the doctors, ripped off my shirt, and placed her on my chest! It forever changed my life. After discovering that there was no skin to skin shirts for dads and realizing that there are limited amounts of gifts for new dads, I decided to invent The Bondaroo, and solve that need.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company?
I had to teach myself the garment business from the ground up. I knew NOTHING about making shirts. So I had to find a designer, pattern maker, cutter, sewer, and all the raw materials. These are VERY challenging things to learn.
What lesson did you learn from that?
I learned that you need to trust people and not companies. The first company I hired to create the shirt, did a very poor job in establishing everything while they overcharged for their services. They were trying to make a profit at every turn, AND uncharge all aspects of my garment. By the time it was all said and done, I was going to be paying 19–23 dollars PER SHIRT. After doing my own research and finding another sewer and pattern maker, I cut the cost in half. At the end of the day, that all comes from having a production manager and not a company that guides you through a process to make THEM money. I’m sure people can benefit from a company like that, I just couldn’t.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Sticking with it. You’re always going to have detractors when you make things. Not everyone will see the value that you do. But I saw that people that DID see value in what I was doing, so I stuck with it. After that, hard work, determination, and follow-through, definitely played a role in our success. I work 15 hours a day sometimes. But it’s the best work in the world when you’re bringing families closer together. People shared our successes. The amazing birthing doctors, doulas, and moms and dads of the world played a huge part in telling their friends and family, patients, and clientele about The Bondaroo. But the icing on the cake was ABC’s airing of Shark Tank, boosted sales and cemented our product as MORE than an idea, but an ESSENTIAL item for the new Dad!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Don’t believe everyone and do your own research. People may have good intentions but it is easy to get bad advice. I talk to people all the time who INSIST they have the next big marketing idea or awesome thing that’s going to propel DadWare to the next level! I have had people sell me on their ideas that didn’t work and I lost money. Do your research so when they tell you something you already know, you can say, thank you. Moving on…
2. CASH IS SACRED! OMG, if I only knew. I wasted so much money saying, “Oh, we’ll write that off” or “It’s just a business expense.” The more frugal (NOT CHEAP) you are, the more money you’ll have to market the launch. Save money!
3. Get a lawyer. It’s not a joke, and a good one will save you on trademarks, patents, and legal protections. When I first started this business, I went to a trade show to find manufacturers to help me get them made. I talked to a manufacturer who was there from overseas. I gave him a sample to get exact costs, and the next thing I knew, my designs were being sold on Amazon! Thanks to my lawyer, we had them thrown off the platform and legal action was quickly taken!
4. You’re NOT going to sell quickly. I figured as soon as I had my site up, it was off to the races! A few bucks on Facebook ads and Google Adwords and you’re SET TO GO! AH HAHAHA. No. I spent HUNDREDS per conversion in the beginning. It was a disaster. I had to establish trust in the brand, and that takes time. 3 years later and things are looking good! But I had to spend that time preparing for this success to happen. If it happens too fast, you can end up being crushed by demand. Sounds counter-intuitive, but if you’re getting too many orders your quality goes down…so look out!
5. Take it easy on yourself! You have to be critical of your work, but remember you are going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over it. I spent 3k dollars on my initial designs. I could have gotten better work for 1k dollars, and later I did, but I had to go through doing it the wrong way to get it right.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Be with your family and friends! TAKE TIME OFF. I work hard, but I also go to the beach with my family, play golf, and unplug from social media. Resetting myself with meditation, or my family and friends really eases the pressure that I’m under to perform. If I’m acting like a jerk, then I go unplug and get someone else to help me. You have to be a good human to get help from other good humans. At least, that’s the way I choose to run my life and my business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Besides my loving wife who bore our child, and my mother who means more to us then she’ll ever know, I’m grateful for my production manager, Roz. Roz has been in the garment business for over 20 years. She knows EVERYTHING about it. No matter what crazy idea I have, be it a new fabric idea or some tinkering with the design, Roz is the voice of calm in the room who says “DUDE, chill, this isn’t a problem” or “ that’s a great idea, here’s how we execute.” I call her my work Bae. She’s a gem!
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I’m excited to build a successful company and guide my family through these trying times, so I can own a house and start putting away for my daughter’s education and our own retirement.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
Being a father is the single most defining aspect of who I am and I hope my daughter will always be proud of me. I hope to continue bringing families closer together and help countless Dads to be engaged as fathers. I hope that my product is able to give millions of dads the proper start in their parenting life, therefore, bringing the world closer together.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
I would love to be of great influence one day and start a movement to inspire people to bring back truth and facts. Facts would no longer be subjective to a URL or someone’s political leanings and we could just see the fact for what it is. Reality instead of trying so desperately to create our own false realities based on materialism or by political affiliation.