Business Link’s Client Feature blogs allow us to highlight some of the many incredible Alberta entrepreneurs we work with, like Busi Musiiwa, CEO & Founder of Babuebaby. Influenced by Zimbabwean (Southern African) and Canadian culture and her background in Occupational Therapy, Busi had a desire to create an ergonomic carrier with improved weight distribution and improved comfort, for both the caregiver and the child.
We connected with Busi and asked her a few questions about her business & her entrepreneurial journey.
“I have put in a tremendous amount of work to create these ergonomic baby wearing designs influenced by vibrant and attractive African prints that have changed my world and will be sure to change the world of babywearing!”
Q. What is your background?
A. I am no different from the typical modern-day woman with a busy job, endless chores, and a family to love and bond with. I am an Occupational Therapist with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Psychology, a minor degree in Sociology, and a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. I live with my husband, Owen, and our two kids Tessa (13) and Aaron (7). Babuebaby Carrier was born out of a meeting point between raising and bonding with my children and my Occupational Therapy skill set and expertise in body mechanics and optimal positioning from the biomechanical approach. It was and continues to be influenced by my two cultures, Zimbabwean (Southern African) and Canadian. Baby carrying is embraced and practiced in both cultures. I have more than three decades of experience of wearing babies entrenched in the Zimbabwean culture where I wore babies (nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbor’s children) from the early age of about nine. I have carried this tradition on and wore my own children which was in line with my passion for attachment theory that is rooted in social work. I have put in a tremendous amount of work to create these ergonomic babywearing designs influenced by vibrant and attractive African prints that have changed my world and will be sure to change the world of babywearing!
Q. Tell us about your business and what it does.
A. Babuebaby is an incorporated venture that specializes in designing carriers that were specifically engineered to help maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system. These carriers have been designed, to offload pressure from the shoulder joints and evenly distribute weight around the torso and pelvis.
Q. What motivated you to start your own business?
A. My journey started out of frustration, I realized that as my son was growing, the carriers on the market didn’t fully support our functional needs. I didn’t find them ergonomic enough as they were still placing pressure on my shoulders. As an OT I realized that I could apply what I practice on a daily basis at work by creating a carrier with improved weight distribution and improved comfort for both caregiver and the child. Hence Babuebaby was born.
Q. What are you most proud of? What is your biggest success?
A. Being able to stick with this whole process. It really wasn’t easy to get here where I am right now. I experienced a lot of roadblocks. The amount of red-tape to get to the final stage of product development and testing wasn’t an easy road. There were a lot of times I wanted to give up. Having worked in the industry where I have always served others (whether health care sector or social services), it was such a learning curve for me was to maneuver situations with some cutthroat service providers and suppliers in the cooperate world. I had to take a step back to reflect on my approach and response to dealing with these challenging situations and it definitely wasn’t easy. I am grateful that I had a very supportive community behind me otherwise it would have been easier to quit.
My biggest success has been by far being able to create an inclusive product that I can share with other parents. Babuebaby was engineered to provide a safe back carry for all children including those with special needs; with low trunk and neck tone, which will distinguish it (quality and function) from other carriers. Our products really do exist to solve a problem. We have created the only product that will allow parents to carry their children for longer periods of time without impacting their shoulder health.
Q. What is your biggest challenge now, in light of COVID-19?
A. I was looking forward to a face to face soft launch prior to our official launch through ATB Boostr, however, with the world shutting down and in line with Health Canada requirements we were not able to gather for a launch party.
Q. Have you had to pivot your business due to the impact of COVID-19? If so, what have you done?
A. Yes we have been able to adapt to the current conditions by using online platforms to sell our product. Initially, we were going to partner with retail stores however most of them shut down due to COVID-19 crises.
Q. What has this pandemic taught you about you and/or your business?
A. To be versatile and adaptable. I am now focusing on online sales and capitalizing on social media to reach our customers.
Q. What advice would you offer other small business owners as they continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on their business?
A. To foster relationships with banking institutions, be aware of government resources, and to be adaptable to whatever conditions while focusing on the ultimate goal of bringing the product to the market.
Q. How has Business Link helped you? Why did you come to us?
A. Business Link has been a pillar of support for my business. David Bayda provided me with one on one mentoring support and pointed me in the right direction to different resources. The Business Link market research team also helped me with secondary research to help me identify my target market as they had access to databases with information related to potential customers.
Q. Have you received support from other organizations? If so, which organizations?
A. Yes I received support from The National Research Council of Canada-IRAP, TEC Edmonton, NABI, and Alberta Innovates.
Q. What advice would you share with others who want to start or grow their own business?
A. Identify the problem you want to solve. Make sure the problem can be monetized. Avoid competition by creating a unique product. Have information on the size of the market you are trying to serve. Surround yourself with a strong team and make sure you have enough funding that will carry you from when you start your project to when you start being profitable.
Q. What’s coming up next for you?
A. We are partnering with ATB for our launch in a few weeks. Stay tuned!