Small Manufacturer/Big Impact

Small Manufacturer/Big Impact

Small Manufacturer / Big Impact

A few years back, a woman I had just met asked what I did for a living. She promptly took out her phone and looked at the Baby Paper website. She scrolled to the store locator and said, “this is impressive…you are in so many stores!”.

Honestly, I never thought about that. As a small manufacturer, I am always feeling “small”. My trade show booth is often overshadowed by larger vendors with more products and bigger marketing budgets. I fight for shelf and inventory dollars with specialty retailers. I work on smaller margins because my cost of goods, freight, supplies, etc are higher than a bigger vendor and I have to keep prices down to be competitive.

But her words that day fueled me to continue on the path I set forth. The foundation of my business centers around supporting local brick & mortar retailers. I learn a lot from them. They are resilient, creative and extremely hard-working. They put their all into their businesses. The Pandemic has only served to solidify their resolve to succeed. They are an inspiration and the value in learning from them is greater than any business class one can take.

For me, it took the Pandemic to veer from my business model of wholesale only and to begin selling direct to the consumer. It was a matter of survival to move merchandise.

But my heart is still with the specialty retailers.

Several years ago, I joined two specialty retailer associations, BRIXY & ASTRA. Through these organizations, the bond between Retailers, Sales Reps, Affiliates and Manufacturers is solidified. We spend time with one another at trade shows (or on Zoom)…getting to know one another, listening to what the others have to say and working towards a common goal – to allow specialty retailers to grow and survive.

I am honored to have been selected to be on the board of ASTRA. I really never thought that a board comprised of so many successful business owners would find such big value in my Baby Paper brand (my obvious talents aside). The appointment brings me back to the reflection of someone looking at my business from the outside in.

A group of us small manufacturers who sell to retailers are starting a group to help us navigate big decisions, to find solutions to our common problems and to work towards growth. We do need a name for our group, but for now we are just calling ourselves the Small Manufacturers Group (we need to work on creativity for sure). 

Small businesses do have a big impact. Hopefully most of us will still be around so you can watch us grow!

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