chit-chat: In Conversation With Big Fat Hen

January 14, 2010
Ruby Blossom Blanket from Big Fat Hen

Ruby Blossom Blanket from Big Fat Hen

I was really excited when my client Big Fat Hen was announced Pick of the Year from! Co-owner Emily was kind enough to take the time to discuss her business of offering fresh, fun and functional modern baby essentials.

BCC: What compelled you to start your own business? Can you tell us a little bit about the beginnings of bigfathen?
Emily: When I was pregnant with my son, I couldn’t find anything for the baby room that wasn’t super disney’d out or insanely expensive. So my Mom came up with all these great ideas and together we created a bedding set. People really loved the bedding and it got us thinking about starting a business. At first we were going to do a few crib quilts and market them to local stores but we soon realised that we wanted to do it right which meant a website, business cards, hang tags, labels etc… My mom and I have a great personal and working relationship so its been a blast doing this with her.

BCC: How did you come up with the name “Big Fat Hen”?
Emily: Big Fat Hen was a childhood nickname- its not as bad as it sounds! My older brothers mixed two nursery rhymes -One, Two, Buckle My Shoe and Higgledy Piggledy to create a nursery rhyme for me. They would recite the made up nursery rhyme to me and over the years created all these great endearing nicknames that I still have today. When my Mom and I were considering starting a business my brother Dean suggested Big Fat Hen as a name and we loved it.

Dawson's Diggers Blanket

Dawson's Diggers Blanket

BCC: “Mompreneur”. Tacky or terrific?
Emily: Good question. When I was on Maternity leave I first heard the term and wasn’t wild about it. Now I work full time, run a business, try to have a sliver of a social life and at the same time I am fully committed to spending as much time as possible with my son. I totally get this term now and embrace it. One day I may be known as a successful entrepreneur in the public and a successful Mom at home but for now these two are tied closely together for me.

BCC: How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner and mom? What falls by the wayside?
Emily: I work full-time and love my job so for 8 hours my attention is there. When I come home I put my energy into spending quality time with my son and husband. I then put my son to bed and start working on Big Fat Hen. I try not to mix work, Big Fat Hen and family because they all need my undivided attention. So I guess I juggle roles by trying not to juggle. A lot of things fall by the wayside- the thing I miss most is free time.

BCC: Where are your products manufactured?
Emily: My Mom hand makes all of our products in Victoria. We have another talented sewer who also helps us out when we get busy.

BCC: What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Emily: Our products have been reviewed on a several blogs and we have been featured in some local magazines. The best blog for us has been because we have been approached by stores who have seen us featured on that reputable site. But you can’t beat word of mouth. We have had a lot of our friends pass around our website which has generated a lot of business and support for Big Fat Hen.

BCC: What is your favorite BFH product?
Emily: The Sam Savanna blanket.

BCC: What is your favorite baby/toddler find?
Emily: I am loving the ‘foaming tot wash’ by Rocky Mountain Soap Company. It’s natural, smells good and because of it my son can’t stop saying ”soap” a million times a day.

Emily's favorite blanket fabric in bib form - Sam Savanna

Emily's favorite blanket fabric in bib form - Sam Savanna

BCC: What is your biggest business startup tip?
Emily: Use your resources. Friends, family, acquaintances and even people we have never met have either offered invaluable advice or helped us grow our product. I have been so surprised at how willing business people are to help other people in business. In the conception phase, I emailed an online store and asked a few questions and she wrote me back a long informative email that I still refer to today.

BCC: Have you subscribed to the latest in social media – facebook, twitter, blogging…?
Emily: We are on facebook which has been great for us. We have been able to reach our fans when we have a sale or when we get picked up by a new store. I would like to spend more time on reaching people through social media but its all about priorities and right now our priority is providing our stores and individual customers with good service and a great product.

BCC: You have paypal integrated with your online store, are you happy with PayPal?
Emily: PayPal has been super easy to work with. I have never had any issues with online payments and our customers report that it has been seamless on their end.

BCC: What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of running your business?
Emily: Knowing that I have my Mom as my business partner. She reads me very well and knows when I am running on low. She picks up a lot of the work when I can’t. I also love our products and believe that we will become more successful each year. We are always thinking of how to expand our product line so it keeps us on our toes and excited about all the possibilities.
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