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A diaper bag to fawn over—how Fawn Design used social media to find success

What does it take to go from business idea to lady boss?


This new column features an entrepreneur, who happens to be a mom, each week—walking us through the process of how you too can take your ideas from dream to reality. If you missed our last article featuring Paige from Little Bean + Co. on the value on branding, you can read that here. This week, we’re discussing the fifth step many modern entrepreneurs need to make on the journey to success: having a social media and online presence.

At only 23-years-old, Jenny Wecker

has more success than people twice her age. She’s done it all at breakneck

speed with her daughter on her hip and now, just over two years after Fawn

Design began, a second baby on the way.

After high school Jenny

attended college for a short time, but like so many born entrepreneurs, (hello Mark Zuckerberg!) she found that it

bored her, and was actually holding her back from pursuing her goals.

In early 2014, Jenny was

talking with a friend who was expecting a baby about the complete and utter lack of

stylish, functional diaper bags.

That was Jenny’s “ah-ha!” moment.

An accomplished seamstress

herself, Jenny had been sewing since she was five years old. In fact, she made

each Fawn Design bag by hand during their first year of business.

Now, her KickStarter

campaign has been featured in the New York Times, her company sponsors the app

“Collabor8” and was featured alongside it in Forbes, and the sales to date this year since January are over half a

million dollars. It’s the real American dream, and this unique entrepreneur is

taking it all in stride.

I was lucky enough to talk about the wild ride these last two years have been, what running a business with your husband (and daughter) is like,

and how social media has been integral to building her brand and her reputation.

This lady boss knows her

stuff. Her unique way of looking at problems and coming up with creative

solutions is what makes her company, Fawn Design, so powerful. Indeed, her designs are

not only outside the box, they are redefining the box into something softer—almost

like the half-circle shape of her brand’s signature bag.

How did you first forray into social media with Fawn Design?

I stated making the bags by

hand to start and posting them on Instagram. The response was really crazy from

the start. Very quickly I got to the point where I would take an order for one

and people would ask, “When can I get one, when can I get one?” and I had to

say, “I have no idea!” at that point.

I was sewing as fast as I

could. And then I actually became pregnant with my daugther Georgia during that

crazy time and was extremely sick. I had a really tough pregnancy, so it was

making it an even a harder struggle to keep sewing the bags myself. My husband

had said from day 1 that if I wanted to turn this into a business and make real

money that I had to get them manufactured. He knew I would never be able to

keep up.

I got to the point where I literally wanted to scream if I looked at my sewing machine before I gave in and listened to him.

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At that point, how did you figure out what your next steps were?

Money obviously was the

biggest thing, and finding a manufacturer. We wanted to use a US manufacturer

but it was not going to be an option for us. There wasn’t a single manufacturer

who was willing to try. They said the bag was too complicated, and that

overseas, handbags are really big. So we got quotes from overseas

manufacturers, and while they were more reasonable than the US ones, we hadn’t

made very much money from sales at that point. We didn’t have much savings and

we were living in my parent’s basement.

So we decided to do a

Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds to place our first manufacturing

order. We ran it as a presale with the hopes of raising $25,000 from December 1st

to December 15th. We ended up raising $42,000 which was pretty

unexpected.

It definitely gave us the

validation that people did actually want the bag – it wasn’t just my mom and

friends.

Are all your sales online or do you wholesale?

We don’t do wholesale right now, we just haven’t

really needed to. Our sales direct to consumer have been so good that we don’t

have the inventory to open up to wholesale. We have a ton of interest in it and

we just have to kinda keep turning them away for now. I don’t know, its kinda

one of those things we don’t know if we’ll ever do.

What makes your bags unique?

When I was designing the

bag I had a vague idea of what I wanted. I wanted it to look different, and be

unique: to not look like a diaper bag but to have all the function of one.

The

first things I decided on was the shape—the half circle shape which is our

bag’s trademark. There’s nothing else out there that looks like that.

But you’d be surprised how

much math is involved in making a half-circle bag. It took us a really long

time to get the calculations correct and then pleasing to the eye. But when we

got it right it fit like a glove.

We’re really proud of that. The shape, the design, everything, we did that all on our own.

Our bags are

also faux leather inner and outer – not fabric-lined like so many diaper bags.

It’s super easy to clean but it also looks incredible. You can even pull out

the entire inner part, shake out any crumbs, and put it back in. It’s so easy.

The majority of our

customers are moms buying them as diaper bags, but we also have a lot of people

buying them because it’s such a good solid bag: a fashionable backpack. The

fact that someone who doesn’t even have kids is using it tells me that we’re on

the right track.

Did you have any experience

with social media before you started Fawn Design?

No – other than personal

use of Facebook and Instagram. But I quickly realized the power of social media.

I would post a picture of me with the bag on my personal Instagram and people

would say, “Oh my gosh, I want one!” These were people I didn’t really know that

well, like people from high school or in my neighborhood. That’s when I knew

social media would be a powerful tool for growing our business.

When we did our Kickstarter campaign, we reached out to a large number of bloggers, sent them a

bag, and asked them to post two pictures each day and link our Kickstarter.

Collaborating isn’t new, but using it to fund a Kickstarter—I don’t think a

lot of people had thought of that before.

But you know, Instagram

still is like our most active platform. And I plan all the posts still, even

though I have an employee do the actual scheduling and posting. I love the

creative process of going through customer’s photos and curating them on our

feed.

Recently we started doing

more Facebook, working with an agency who do a lot with social media to drive

sales.

We also do quite a bit on

Pinterest. We pin our items, of course, but we also pin a lot of other things

applicable to our target audience. Turns out, Pinterest is usually a top

referring site which was surprising to us.

How were you able to grow your social media audience?

Right now we have 53,000 followers on Instagram and that’s been growing for two years. It was really

slow to start, but once we had our Kickstarter and started collaborating with

influencers, then our Instagram really stated to take off.

We were using it to keep

everyone who preordered updated on the status of their bags. And since the

beginning we’ve been really big on collaborating. We send out a lot of free bags each month to

different bloggers or influencers. We ask them to post about it and it helps!

Giveaways have been good.

But once you hit a certain amount of followers then those giveways stop

contributing to the bottom line: into sales. We’ve never done a loop giveaway

though. I always recommend people don’t do those. They’re not good for your

social media.

At the end of the day you

want followers who are there for your product and not just there for free

stuff.

Would you say that Instagram has been really integral to building your

brand?

I definitely think up until

this point it has, but Instagram is changing and that’s been really hard on

some people. We are switching our focus a bit to other social platforms like

Facebook and Pinterest and into actually working with bloggers to have them post

on their blogs and on Youtube. So it has been important for us, but I don’t

think it’s as effective as it was, say, two years ago. But it also doesn’t wear

on me like it used to. It’s smoother now.

You mentioned Youtube. What are your plans for that and other video

platforms like Snapchat and Periscope?

I have a Snapchat account

but up till now it’s been more of a personal account. A lot of customers follow

me and I guess I just like to show what I do on the daily, to show what our

life looks like. People probably think our life is a lot more glamorous than

what it actually is.

Then this past few months

I’ve been doing a weekly Periscope talking about different business topics.

It’s really fulfilling for me to put all the advice I’m asked about on a daily

basis into a central location.

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Creatively, what inspires

your design and how is that brought into your social media?

I go through phases when

I’m super inspired and super pumped, but I’m just like anyone and there are

other times when it’s like, “Ah! I don’t even want to think about that kind of

stuff!”

But I’ve always felt like I

looked at things in a different way.

Becoming a mom has really inspired everything we’re doing going forward.

When I started I wasn’t a mom, but now I

actually use the product with my child. I can think about like things I want to

change or the color I want to see. I can picture things for future photoshoots

like how would I combine colors, how I would style that color and how the whole

thing would come together.

Traveling has also inspired

me in a major way, and you can definitely see that reflected in our social

media.

The best part of owning

your own business is that we have that freedom. We live in a nice enough house,

we have a nice enough car but we could live in much bigger house, have nicer

cars, have nicer things, have nicer clothes. Instead we’ve always been like, “I

would rather go to Europe!” I’m glad that my husband and I both feel that way because

when we come back and we just feel recharged and creative! We went to Italy and

I remember all those colors and now our Fall colors will reflect that.

And,

how cool would it be to shoot those new colors in Italy and tell that story?

How important would you say confidence is in building a brand and

starting your own business?

Confidence is one of those

things that is so important in so many aspects of your life and the older you

get the more you realize just important it is. When you’re not confident you

see how hard things are.  I come a

divorced family and there was a lot of being pulled here or there. I had to

grow up at a young age and decide the kind of person I was going to be so I

could make my own choices create the own life that I wanted to have.

People ask me what’s biggest piece of advice for starting a business? I always say, just start.

Just do something.

That’s what I did. I just

started and thought, “I’m going to give it 100% or not do it at all.”

I’m

seven months pregnant right now. My daughter Georgia will be 15 months when this baby girl

is born. It was unexpected but we actually are really happy. Honestly I know its going

be really hard the first few years but I definitely think its one of those

things that’s a total kind of blessing.

When I think about the

future and where this business is going to go, Georgia’s going need a friend and that

friend’s gonna need her, too. We’ll never be too busy for our kids but I think

we’re going to have a very different life. And I think this all happened for a

reason.

How does being a mother impact the way that you run your business?

I tell everyone my three priorities are my family, my faith, and my time, and it goes in that order.

My family comes first and

yesterday was a great example.This week has been so crazy. But on Wednesday it

was my sister’s (the nanny’s) birthday so I decided to give her the afternoon

off. My husband and I tossed around the idea of bringing Georgia into work but

then we were both like, “You know what, let’s take half the day off and get

outside with Georgia!” There’s always a ton of work stuff we could be doing but

Georgia needs our time too. That’s a perfect example of how we do things.

When we’re working we’re

working really hard so that when

we’re done for the day, we’re done. We don’t bring it up at home and we just

focus on her.

Beyond being a mother, being

spouse and having a business with my husband… people ask us all the time how we

manage to do that? And it’s super hard. I’m not gonna lie, super hard. But

having those boundaries where work is work and play is play helps. We’re not

perfect but we try hard.

Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

I have two. One, don’t underestimate the power

of sitting down and making a list of all the things you should be doing.

Unfortunately the stress never goes away once you’ve completed a task because

there’s always 100 other things you need to be doing, but it helps to feel like

you’re accomplishing something.

And two, don’t let money

get in the way. I don’t recommend getting in debt but I know a lot of people

get discouraged by the financial side of business. Sometimes you just have to

get creative.

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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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