Baby clothing company Aden + Anais counts Prince George and Blue Ivy as two of its most well-known customers.
With annual turnover now of USD $43 million ($46 million) and 78 full time staff, the business has come a long way from its beginnings when Australian-born chief executive and co-founder Raegan Moya-Jones started looking for a muslin wrap to swaddle her baby Anais. Moya-Jones lives in New York and balances running Aden + Anais with looking after her four daughters. How does she do it? “A lot of wine!”.
Aden + Anais came to me out of necessity really. I had my first daughter in 2003 and I had been living in the States since 2006 and I went looking for the muslin wraps that were so common in Australia. I couldn’t believe they didn’t exist in the States. I thought “how do Americans have babies without these?” It was a very light-bulb moment for me.
I was definitely always an entrepreneur I just didn’t realise that I was that. There were moments I said it would be great to run my own thing one day but there was nothing that sparked the motivation to get off my butt and do it. This made absolute complete sense.
I just worked hard to get it happening. I had no supply chain marketing or finance background. My background was sales I just taught myself as I went along. Initially I was feeling my way along in the dark but I am a fairly tenacious person.
Initially it was my own money. And that was quite the conversation I had to have with my husband. He said “Where is your business plan?” and I said, “I don’t have one. I just know that it will work.”
But that ran dry very quickly so like so many entrepreneurs I just went to family and friends and borrowed money at 10% interest. It was difficult as I started the business right before the recession hit so access to capital was essentially non-existent.
In 2010 I got my first round of private equity funding and that was a very lucky situation as a friend introduced me to someone he worked with.
There was a period of time where the majority of my job was just keeping the business afloat. There were moments at night when I said: “My god do I buy stock or pay the six people working for me?” Once [the private equity firm] got on board I managed to grow the business exponentially.
Getting stockists was the easy part for me. I went door to door to the stores that made sense for the product and sold it myself. Up until three years ago I was still doing a lot of the selling myself.
We went through a second round of private equity investment in December last year with Swander Pace Capital which took 60% equity in the business and I kept 25%. I am no longer the majority shareholder but I am still the chief executive and I still run the business day to day. The sale was for “a lot”. (Moya Jones says the figure was between $50 to $100 million).
I would like to say Prince George being wrapped in an Aden + Anais wrap when he left hospital was perfectly orchestrated by us, but we had nothing to do with it. [The Duchess of Cambridge] just went into a store and bought it herself. You couldn’t even put a value on that for what that meant for the company in terms of brand awareness on a global sale.
I never intended Aden + Anais to be a celebrity brand. My intent was to introduce an absolutely essential product for all new borns. I wanted it to be very affordable.
Three weeks after I went on the market I sold it into a store in Santa Monica which had celebrity clientele and next thing I remember seeing a full page picture of Adam Sandler on Malibu beach with the baby covered with an Aden + Anais blanket. Now every major celebrity has been photographed with the product, Beyonce, Pink and the Duchess.
Up until a year ago we had never spent a cent on traditional marketing. I always have had PR, which got the word out through mummy blogs. In terms of traditional marketing we didn’t spend a cent. What built Aden + Anais was word of mouth. Even today we are one of the most gifted baby products in any store anywhere.
There is still a hell of a lot of growth in the US market. But the international markets are truly exciting because they are very much in their infancy we have offices in Tokyo, Montreal and Sydney. We see huge opportunities there.
I have four children so there is definitely a lot of juggling. The way I do it is by surrounding myself by incredibly great people in my business and personal life. I have a nanny who helps me and an incredibly supportive husband.