#7. The story behind: making of Konny
Why the Konny Baby Carrier Winter Cover was dropped before launch
The Konny Baby Carrier was launched in 2017 and I decided to develop a cover that goes well with our baby carrier. Today, let me tell you the story of developing the Konny Baby Carrier Winter Cover, beating my head against the wall (again…).
The final parcels waiting to be sent out for delivery after all baby carriers were sold out. We had to package ourselves as we had no partnering distribution center at the time.The initial quantity we produced, which was expected to be sold in two months, was sold out within just two weeks of launch. Nobody saw this coming, including myself. But I felt more bewildered than happy at this unexpected result. And I was astounded since I've been questioning whether customers would listen to my story and open their wallets for our products, and whether I could succeed without giving up. I felt regret for doubting myself and my gut as a mother and a consumer who was dedicated to raise my baby. I promised myself to have more faith in my gut feeling from now on. “It is okay to fail. If there’s anything I learn, then that’s all that matters.” Fully motivated to make things that customers really needed in their lives, I decided to go back to square one.
I recalled the times when I felt most troubled while raising my baby. One of those times was going out with my baby in the winter. After giving birth to my baby in September, I started to desire going out with my little one from December. But taking my baby outside during the winter in Korea was brutal for a new mom who hasn’t yet fully recovered. Both of us had to put on layers of clothes and there were tons of bulky things I needed to pack to be prepared for the cold, from the baby carrier cover, puffy jumpsuit to a blanket. Everything was cumbersome and I was always short of hands. Without my husband by my side, I could not dare to go out with my baby. When the two of us went out for a short walk or to get vaccinated, I quickly raced to get everything handled. Wearing and removing a baby carrier cover was too cumbersome as both of us were wearing multiple layers of clothes. It was easier to drape a blanket over me and my baby, but the blanket kept falling off, sweeping the whole floor. I sighed and thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way...’
“How can I make going out in the winter lighter and simpler?”
That’s when I realized what really needed improvement was the baby carrier cover. The Konny Baby Carrier was first launched in September of 2017, and many pictures of our customers using it were uploaded on Instagram. But as the temperature gap between mornings and evenings grew bigger from early October, I started to witness that many of our customers were draping various types of covers, from gauze blankets to windbreaker covers to their lightweight puffer jackets, over the Konny Baby Carrier. Then I realized, no matter how light our baby carrier was, without a baby carrier cover that reduced the load for parents, there was no point of boasting that our product was “lightweight.” So, we chose the baby carrier cover as the next item to launch in September, and I started designing from early October.
Tried to draw a design on a cotton cloth myself to save money, but soon realized why we get help from professionals...
I have to admit. It was nonsense to start from scratch in early October when it already started to get chilly. I naively believed I could launch the product by the end of December if I immediately started to work on the design. Also, since the cold weather normally lasts until April in Korea, I thought there would be people who would still willingly purchase our product in late December. (I was a total novice, I know.)
I purchased fabric at the Dongdaemun Fabric Market, drew a design with a pencil on a cotton cloth, cut and patched the pieces together to make a sample myself, and tested it multiple times, holding a baby-size doll in the sample carrier cover (since my baby was already big by then). Meanwhile, I was introduced to a production agency. I thought with their rich knowledge and experience, they could complement my shortcomings and help me launch the product quicker than the expected timeline. Holding multiple meetings a week with the agency, we chose the fabric and completed a sample trial product.
The first sample developed in 2017, which was dropped due to imperfect quality
Now, I had to make a call and get going. But I was reluctant for some reason. The sample was made completely based on my decisions; but I wasn't fully satisfied with my trial product that I developed in a rush. And I wasn't confident enough to say that I could open the wallet without any hesitation as a consumer. When the designer of the production agency told me it was time to make a decision in order to sell the product this season, I felt alert all of a sudden. After much deliberation, I said, “I can't sell this product. I’m sorry.”
As I look back on this time, I was very distressed. The completed sample was different from what I had in mind. I needed time to process the fact that I was wrong and that I failed. But now that I think about it, it was a good decision in the long run. If I had not decided to halt back then, the product would have been the worst mistake Konny has ever made.
When going out with a baby in the winter, parents would need a baby carrier cover each time. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they would buy two or three of them. They might purchase two or three baby carriers, but not the baby carrier cover. I knew consumers would pick and choose a single baby carrier cover and use it throughout the season. (You know, moms are the ones who would rather buy two baby overcoats than two baby carrier covers.) So, I came to think that the baby carrier cover should be a nice suit of clothes that is comfy, well-made and reasonable. To make one like that, I needed to secure sufficient time before launching and make no compromises when choosing the fabric and subsidiary materials and in the sewing quality.
“When time is on my side, I can make a good decision.” It’s one of my favorite mottos. I believe I can develop what I love after a lot of legwork, trial and error and, most importantly, when I am not rushed for time. (The same holds true for men, new home for a married couple and clothes…) So, I decided to take one more year to make more samples and go through trial and error before launching the product I can confidently sell to my customers. As a merchant, I should admit that it is much more fun and exciting to showcase the product that I'm truly confident about. What’s more important than the pace of launching is the absolute quality of the product. Although it wasn't an easy call to make, I am proud of myself for calling a halt to the launch of the baby carrier cover to promise my customers the absolute quality of the product.