Motherly means strength. There is something about becoming a mother that brings out strength you never knew you had…because you’re gonna need it.
Motherly @ Work features the stories and insights of modern women growing their careers—and their families.
Raegan Moya-Jones is one of those mamas.
A mother to four daughters, she is also founder and CEO of the wildly popular aden + anais brand.
We caught up with Raegan for our #LADYBOSS series to talk about how she took her dream from idea to reality—and how she makes it all work today.
The idea for her successful business was born in 2003 when she was pregnant with her first child.
Excited to carry on her Australian heritage tradition of swaddling her newborn in a muslin blanket, Raegan set out to find some she could stock up on—but came up empty handed. So, she created her own. (And—spoiler alert!—that panned out really well for her.)
With their versatility and modern design, aden + anais soft muslin blankets have been swaddling and comforting our little ones since 2006 when they made their U.S. debut. And now they’re a globally recognized baby brand sold in Target, Buy Buy Baby, and Nordstrom (to name a few) that have sold over 25 million in 65 countries over the past 10 years.
So how did Raegan build this empire? And how does she balance her mom/wife/CEO game? We chatted with her to get the scoop.
Thinking back to those early days of your company, how did you begin the process of deciding on a brand name?
Raegan Moya-Jones: I’d love to say that it was wildly creative, but here is the truth: aden is the name of my former business partner’s son, and anais is my first born daughter. The name was probably the easiest part!
Once you had your name, what was your process to develop a logo, and all the other pieces that contribute to a brand?
Raegan Moya-Jones: My background is in sales. I didn’t have formal training in design or marketing communications, but what I did have was strong gut instincts, strong opinions and the ability to know when I needed help from an actual expert. Through my network, I was able to find the right people to pull that all together, so I could focus on the business.
What would you say captures people about a brand—what makes it memorable?
Raegan Moya-Jones: Brands have to have authenticity. And that’s a huge buzzword now, but you can’t fake it. It needs to come from a real place.
aden + anais came from my experience growing up in Australia, from my experiences with motherhood, from my kitchen table…I’m not saying every brand needs to be a story about bootstrapping and being an underdog,
I’m saying that the brand needs to feel like there is something real behind it.
When people hear “aden + anais” what do they say comes to mind?
Raegan Moya-Jones: Beauty and design and quality and comfort and simplicity and trust…these are simple swaddle blankets that have sold over 25 million in 65 countries over the past 10 years. You don’t get to that level without those elements.
What values did you focus on when building the aden + anais brand?
Raegan Moya-Jones: I really focused on making products that I would want in my own home: items that were high-quality and well-designed, items that would last, that fit my own aesthetic and weren’t typical baby goods.
When we launched, our designs were a departure from the traditional baby design aesthetic.
There was a very typical look to nursery items, and we threw that out the window and made products that I wanted in my home and hoped that other moms would respond the same way. We are making products that parents and caregivers are using on the little ones they love, and we take that seriously.
We value simplicity, and quality, and that trust that we’ve earned
over the past 10 years.
When developing a brand, what would you say is the most difficult part of the process?
Raegan Moya-Jones: The process is made a lot easier if you make sure you have the right people around you from the beginning. I knew I wasn’t a design or branding expert, so I didn’t pretend to be one. My strengths are my instinct, and my decision making, so I worked with people who were great at design and branding, and made sure I let them do their jobs.
Over the years, has the aden + anais brand undergone any changes or major overhauls?
Raegan Moya-Jones: We’ve certainly expanded as we grew beyond my kitchen table: we’re in 65 countries, I started with 4 SKUs and now we have over 2000 across a much wider breadth of products, and we have 4 global offices in addition to our head office in Brooklyn…but as a brand, we haven’t really had any major overhauls outside of one packaging refresh back in 2009 and we are working on another one for a 2017 launch.
From the trunk of your car to a brand with 100+ employees and a name that’s recognized worldwide, aden + anais is certainly a brand leader. Why do you think parents love the brand so much?
Raegan Moya-Jones: I think it’s because they know we care.
Everything I have done at aden + anais has been done first and foremost from the position of me as a mum, not a business person. I am maniacal about quality and customer service and being honest with all our customers.
You can’t fake that and I believe that our customers feel it and that is why they are so supportive of the brand.
How important would you say confidence is in running your own company?
Raegan Moya-Jones: Very. Starting a company can destroy your self-esteem if you’re not used to hearing “no,” to being rejected, to unexpected setbacks. From the very start, I believed that we were a 100 million dollar brand, and I’ve never wavered in that belief. People want to work with and for a leader who has strong convictions, who can make decisions, and that’s who I try to be for everyone at aden + anais.
How does being a mother affect the way you run your business?
Raegan Moya-Jones: Well, I’ve only ever been a mother who ran this business, so I can’t tell you how it would be different, because it never has been.
I do know that having four girls, two dogs and a lovely husband means that I need to be laser-focused: when I’m at work, I’m at work. And when I’m at home, I’m at home.
If I didn’t have the girls, maybe I would be the kind of person who spends her whole holiday checking her emails and taking conference calls, or staying at the office 20 hours a day, but I’m not: I’m the CEO at home and the office, and I’m always home for dinner.
Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring lady bosses?
Raegan Moya-Jones: Get in there. Nobody is going to make space for you; you have to do it yourself.
In many ways, I think I started my own company because being the boss was the only way for me to truly be taken seriously in business. We’re not all cut out for entrepreneurship, but we know that there is a long way to go with equality in the workplace.
In 2015, the World Economic Forum anticipated that the gender gap wouldn’t close until 2133. In other words, it won’t happen in my or my girls’ lifetime, which is unacceptable.
Find what you can do—for yourself, for other women, for our next generation— and do it.
It’s important not just for women, but for all of us, as humans to have a more equitable workplace.
What does “motherly” mean to you?
Raegan Moya-Jones: Strength. There is something about becoming a mother that brings out strength you never knew you had…because you’re gonna need it.