Mother/Daughter Interview with Lina Griner and Emma of Mia Bella Baby
Tell us about your company, it’s purpose, mission, target audience, goals, what makes it unique.
At Mia Belle Baby we design baby gifts and accessories and wholesale to specialty stores and baby boutiques nation wide. We also have an online store. Vintage inspired chic for modern tots is our basic philosophy. Mia Belle Baby focuses on fulfilling modern parents demand for quality and function while preserving the beautiful timeless styles that our mothers and grandmothers cherished when they were young mothers. Each product is carefully selected based on what is most essential and most often used in babies first years of life. Our products are not only beautiful but they can also become the most useful and necessary staples for babies and toddlers. Our unique designs capture the essence of old world charm and make them useful for modern day function.
Coco Chanel said it best “Luxury must be comfortable otherwise it’s not Luxury”. With that in mind Mia Belle Baby defines itself with effortless luxury, exquisite fabrics and clever designs. Our target audience is expecting and new parents. Our goal is to be a well respected and widely known brand in the Juvenile products industry.
How did you come to work together in the first place?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My family immigrated from Russia when I was 9 and my father was my role model in terms of overcoming cultural and monetary obstacles to become a successful business owner. I went to business school and I always knew that owning my own business is the path that I want to take. It wasn’t until my daughter was born in 2006 that I knew exactly what kind of business it would be. Although I have to say that I minored in Apparel and merchandising and fashion and design were always of particular interest to me.
My daughter was my muse and inspiration for all of our ideas and designs. Her name is Mia Anabelle, so the name of the company evolved to Mia Belle. This is in honor of my muse as well as a play on words in different languages Mia meaning mine in Italian and Belle meaning Beautiful in French.
As a young mom and a young and fashion forward grandmother we came across a lot of really nice products but eventually started adding our own little modifications to products or making new products all together to accommodate my daughter. We became regulars at Jo Ann fabrics and started making all kinds of things for Mia. Other moms began to notice the products and give us really positive feed back and that is how Mia Belle Baby was born.
Our first idea was the slumber tote and slowly and naturally it just evolved into an entire collection and then to an exciting business venture. We always enjoyed shopping together and we are both really into fashion.
Please describe your respective roles in the company.
Lina manages all the business relationships with the factories, sales reps and PR. Emma handles the office logistics and is huge in contributing to the creative aspect of our designs.
How has working together affected your relationship outside the “office.” In other words how do you keep family matters separate from work related issues?
It’s actually been really great working together. Emma has stayed home for the last 20+ years raising the kids and now that the kids are grown she was looking for a creative outlet. And while Lina has had multiple business ventures with her Dad…Emma has been out of the loop. This has brought us together and it’s great to be able to spend so much time together. We can chat about life at work and we always eat lunch together. And somehow we just naturally turn work off when we leave and on the weekends we still mange to spend time together and discuss work as little as possible. We make a great team and complement each others abilities. Emma is conservative, great with her hands and really creative. While Lina is a risk taker, also creative and has the ability to form and maintain great business relationships.
What are some of the challenges you have faced working together?
We have a very honest approach and always say what we think. There is definitely moments when Ii (Lina) want her to use the computer more and learn things that are our of her element and being the conservative that she is she is scared of new things and change. And vise versa there are definitely times when Emma thinks I am too fast too hasty in making decisions in spending on the business. We’ve definitely had several disagreements about the budget and what it should be spent on.
We consider our big triumph the ability to launch and begin growing our business in such economically strained times. We officially began selling our products in October 08 and despite the fact that boutiques are on a buying freeze we’ve managed to open dozens of accounts nationally and those accounts are making reorders. Most importantly with every triumph I feel like it’s so much sweeter because we accomplish it together and we always joke how we get so ecstatic over the smallest of orders and when we become big we will look back with a smile and appreciate how much we celebrated every step that we take forward.
What do you like best about working together? Least?
Working together we always know that both people are completely invested and there is never a doubt that we have each others back and have each others best interest at heart.
The thing we like the least about working together is PMS. When we are on the same cycle…it can get a little cranky.
What, if any big challenges or little annoyances have occured as a result of working together and how have you managed to overcome them?
We find that as long as we are able to communicate everything is smooth sailing. If one of us feels frustrated with a decision or with something that happened we always voice it. And we also find that besides product design we do not share any work duties. We focus on completely different aspects of the business and this prevents us from butting heads.
What tips would you share with our readers for working with a member of the family?
Working with a relative is not for everyone and you have to have a really strong foundation to be able to do it. Our personalities are both really laid back and we’ve never really experienced any strain in our relationship prior to working together. Before deciding to work together you have to make sure that you can focus on different responsibilities and not interfere or undermine the other person’s duties and tasks. You have to always communicate and bounce ideas off of each other. You also have to be able to leave work and nurture your “mother daughter” relationship. You don’t want to become mechanical.
What’s been the most exciting thing that has happened as a result of working together?
We find that with every success and reached milestone we feel extremely fulfilled. There is nothing like starting from scratch and seeing your vision and dream materialize. It gives us a real sense of accomplishment and self worth. . Recently we received really big coverage by a website called “Daily Candy Kids” and we had over 2,000 hits on our web site in one day. As a result of this coverage a women’s lifestyle television show broadcast across the US wants to feature one of our products in a TV segment.
What’s next for this mother daughter team?
We are not ruling out extending our product line to hand bags and other women’s apparel or accessories. We have so much fun designing together and our ideas are definitely not just within the baby industry. Once the Mia Belle Baby brand gets big enough we would like to move forward with broadening the products and categories.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just as advice for women who want to own their own business. When you get an idea that feels right to you as if you are in sync with the universe and your intuition is guiding you in that direction you just need to go for it. You don’t always know where the road will lead you, but if you believe in yourself and your idea and your work ethic is good, you can follow and live your dream.
Learn more about Mia Bella Baby at www.miabellebaby.com
This article can be read in the Spring/Summer 2009 Issue of WE Magazine for Women