BEEhind the Scenes: Snow Angel

Parenting is fun. Parenting involves so many wonderful and exciting things that can’t quite be captured in words. It’s extremely rewarding, and every challenge is worth it. But let’s be honest, if a typical day were filled with fewer tears and maybe one less meltdown…that would be a win.

That was the mission that drove the creation of Big Bee, Little Bee’s very first product, the Snow Angel Cushioned Baby Bath Towel.

Now some babies like being in the bath, some babies don’t. But I have never met a baby who liked getting out of the bath. Why? Because they went from this nice, warm, comfortable environment, to cold air and hard surfaces. If you’ve witnessed this process, you know it can get very loud. And since shrieking is no fun for anyone involved, you want to get that baby dried off and into warm clothes as quickly as possible. (pause) But you can’t do it quickly. Because that’s a tiny baby you’re dealing with. A wet, wiggly infant. And while quick sounds good, safety is critical. And that’s why the Snow Angel was born: to make the process of drying an infant quicker and safer.

You’re probably familiar with the diamond-shaped hooded towel that most parents use. You’ve got a sheet of terry cloth and a triangle-shaped piece of material in the upper corner. And that’s it. Why isn’t this the ideal towel to get the job done?

Tiny babies can’t sit up unassisted and they certainly can’t stand on her own, so how am I supposed to wrap them in a towel without getting myself wet? And how do I move them around to get all their little parts dry? I don’t want to move them. The baby is delicate, wet, angry. I’d rather move the towel and leave the baby in one place. Since this method didn’t seem safe to me when the Little Bee was a few months old, it’s not how we did it in our home. 

We did it the other way parents often do it: we laid her down on the countertop. Of course we weren’t going to just place a towel on the counter because the counter is hard and the towel doesn’t provide any cushioning. Aside from being uncomfortable, our daughter used to buck her head back when she got angry…and she always got angry when she got out of the tub. And that was a recipe for disaster.

So we laid a stack of towels on the countertop, put her baby towel on top of that, then placed her on top of all that and dried her off.

When a baby is brand new and tiny, this process works reasonably well. But you’ll find that they often grow out of that little towel after only a few months—especially with a good deal of the fabric just pinned behind their backs. And really, who wants to buy a baby product you’ll use for such a short time?

When the Little Bee was about 8 months old and I was watching my husband bathe her, it occurred to me that all we really needed was a baby towel with some cushioning in the back and a little more available fabric—I just couldn’t find one. So although I couldn’t sew, I set out to create a special towel for her. My initial attempt was pretty rough (Who knew you had to stitch the edges of a towel to keep it from fraying?), but she liked it. No shrieking!

 

I’m actually very thankful the towel didn’t come out perfectly the first time because it wasn’t until my second attempt that I came up with the idea for the wings. By splitting the fabric strategically, I could more easily reach and dry her arms, legs, and all the bits in between. Truth be told, I didn’t have a snow angel shape in mind when I started drawing the pattern for the second prototype. I was simply playing with different cuts until I settled upon the one that made the most sense. When I stepped back from it, I saw it: a snow angel!

 

I created that first prototype in August 2015. When I realized I might have a real product, I began testing with moms’ groups around my city. When local testing went extremely well, I stepped up my testing efforts. I put it up for sale on Amazon in April of 2016 as a test. I wanted to see if people would be willing to part with their money for it, and once they did, were they happy with their purchase? The answer to that question was yes.

The Snow Angel was completely different from any other baby towel on the market. No other towel had a padded back like ours did, and no other towel had its innovative design. The Snow Angel didn’t simply get your baby dry, it made the entire process safer and easier.

 

Looking for the Snow Angel product listing on the website? Unfortunately, you won’t find it. We discontinued it a little while back.

Why would we do that with a product that people loved??? A few reasons.

I knew absolutely nothing about manufacturing when I invented it. That meant that I wasn’t considering manufacturing costs during the design process. And Snow Angel has a lot of detail—and detail meant added expense. To make a long story short, it wasn’t possible to achieve the profit margin necessary for the product to survive. It cost almost as much to make as the market was willing to pay for it.

Could I redesign it now and make the numbers work? Maybe. I have ideas to do that now that I know quite a bit more about product design and manufacturing, but I’m not entirely sure that I’ll do it. Because there’s a second challenge I’d identified…

I wasn’t able to effectively communicate the product’s value proposition with just a few seconds of a potential customer’s attention. Can they figure out what it does just by scrolling through a few images? Would the value be clear when scrolling through Amazon, searching baby towels? The data told me no.

I always keep the lessons from that product in mind when I develop products now—and I’ve taught the Little Bee to do the same. Do we stop ourselves from creating and innovating? Definitely not. But we consider these points when we’re deciding whether or not to potentially put it on the market.

Will it be affordable to manufacture? Will we get the margin we need? Will it be easy enough to communicate the value proposition in less than thirty seconds? If the answers are yes, we consider taking the next step.

Do I miss the Snow Angel? Absolutely yes. I’m so grateful for the hundreds and hundreds of parents and grandparents who used them, got them for friends, and always spread the word about it. And I will always love that product because it’s what started all this. Big Bee, Little Bee’s first baby!

 

When you see an ad or product listing, how long will you spend trying to figure out what the product does? Will you read all the text? Watch a video? Whether it’s 3 seconds or 3 minutes, we’d love to know!

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