During a 2007 plane trip with her two young sons, Susie Taylor experienced every spill a mom could imagine. The baby spit up, juice boxes spilled and cut-up fruit and yogurt oozed on everything. After exhausting all of the clothing changes and bibs in her diaper bag, Taylor said she and the boys walked off the plane a filthy mess.
"I decided to try to find a bib that would work better, and if I couldn’t find it, I would make it," said Taylor, who lives in Biscayne Park.
A year later, Taylor launched Bibbitec, maker of reusable, stain-resistant bibs. Here’s how she did it.
The Big Idea
The Bibbitec Super Bib is a 17- by 23- inch poly-nylon blend bib that fits over a child’s neck and through his arms. Designed for kids age 6 months to 6 years, the bib is made from high-tech repurposed American-made material used in fitness wear. It is washable, dryable, and resistant to stains, spills and odors. The product doubles as a placemat, changing pad, breastfeeding cover, burp cloth and lap napkin and can be cleaned with a wet wipe. It comes in several colors and sells for $36.
"I spent enough money and used enough products that my experience was the research," Taylor said. "I didn’t research any further."
Born and raised in Miami, Taylor studied theater at the New World School of the Arts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theater at
WHERE TO FIND ITBibbitec bibs are sold at The Village Stand in Miami Shores, Safer Kids and Homes in Pinecrest, in a pop-up store inside Cooking with Kids in Miami Shores and online at bibbitec.com.
Pennsylvania State University and a master’s in theater at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She worked in New York off-Broadway, and in Miami in the theater and on television. Taylor also worked in event planning.
After her plane trip, Taylor began looking on the Internet for bib fabrics that would make traveling easier. She wanted something American-made that was soft, stretchy, odor- and stainproof and that dried instantly.
She began ordering samples, testing them on her kitchen table with syrup, ketchup and mustard. Everything stained. Then she got a one-inch square sample of a fabric used to make jackets for Mount Everest trekkers. It resisted stains and dried instantly. The brand is a trade secret, Taylor said, but "it’s one of the most expensive fabrics you can find on the market."
Taylor began experimenting with shapes and sizes. An aunt who is a designer helped
make a prototype.
Taylor gave out a few bibs to mom friends, and got great feedback. One threw it over her stroller to make a waterproof cover. Another used it as a placemat for finger foods.
"That’s how it got started, being used for so many things," Taylor said. "All these moms were coming back with all these ideas."
A local seamstress and fabric cutter were found on Craigslist. Taylor said she used to meet the guy who trimmed the bibs at a Miami gas station, where she would exchange money for a parcel of fabric. Over a year, she built an inventory of 200 bibs.
She moved on to a facility with a laser cutter in Boca Raton, and a factory in Hialeah to sew the bibs. When the fabric manufacturer refused to deal with her because her orders were too small, she piggybacked on another buyer’s orders. Now Taylor has the manufacturing jobbed out to three Miami factories, to do the cutting, sewing and embroidery.
Taylor showed her product at holiday parties, gift shows, Mommy and Me and prenatal classes. When the Daily Candy, a product website, wanted to review Bibbitec, she created a website.
After winning second place in The Miami Herald business plan challenge in 2009, Taylor secured a patent. Later that year, she attended a New York trade show, where she got into eight specialty retailers, and was included in online catalogs for Uncommon Goods and flash-seller The Gilt Groupe. "They told us we needed liability insurance," Taylor said. "I hadn’t ever thought of that."
Bibbitec has been featured in other specialty catalogs and is sold at The Village Stand in Miami Shores, Safer Kids and Homes in Pinecrest and in a pop-up store inside of Cooking with Kids in Miami Shores.
A slow and steady flow of about $30,000 went for fabric, labor, samples, trademarking, packaging and website development. Taylor is not yet profitable and draws no salary. About 75-100 Bibbitecs are sold a month, and Taylor has taken on a partner/investor who handles distribution.
Bibbitec relies on Facebook, Twitter, LivingSocial and other social media to promote the brand. Taylor finds demos to mom groups to be very effective, and she has started a mom
affiliate group to have moms demo and sell the product on commission.
"It’s a great product, but it’s super hard to sell when it’s sitting on a shelf," Taylor said. "People have to talk about it."
Big-box retailers at a 2010 trade show advised Taylor to get a less-expensive fabric from China and cut the price. "Then my sister reminded me why I started making the product, because of all the crap they were selling in stores that wasn’t working," Taylor said. She decided to stay true to her mission, even if it took longer to make money. She dropped the product price from $44 to $36 and started the mom affiliate program.
"The hardest thing is having a company that makes no money, but that takes money,"
Adult-size cooking aprons and artist’s smocks, as well as a size for bigger kids are next. bibbitec also is developing a clothing line from the stain-resistant fabric.
Taylor rises at 6:30 a.m. Her husband, Stephen, cooks breakfast and brings sons Mason, 5, and Jaedon, 7, to school. Taylor cleans up and heads to the gym. Afterward she’ll stop by the factories to check on production or design or head to the pop-up store. She picks up the kids at 2 p.m. and heads back to the store with the kids until 5 p.m. Then it’s home for dinner and an 8 p.m. bedtime for the boys. Couple time follows, with a little television or Wednesday-night yoga.
"The less you know at the beginning the better," Taylor said. "In my mind, I didn’t think it was going to be this long; everything has been so slow … [Looking back,] I liked that I didn’t know anything about it, that it just seemed like something fun to do."