Solly Baby is officially 10-years-old! To celebrate our birthday, we’ve done a little Q&A with our founder, Elle. Settle in (with a piece of cake?) to this extra special peek at the history of Solly and where we’re headed next!
Have you ever told the story of how Solly Baby started? Tell it again!
Lol, only every week but, if anything, it’s grown more special to me over the years so I’m always happy to retell it. It all began with a 2-year-old, a 9-pound, 11-ounce newborn, and one very overwhelmed mom. My husband was gone 80+ hours a week, and I knew I would need to wear Solomon out of practicality.
I wore my first baby, Lucy, and she loved it, but the carrier gave me headaches so I wanted a more comfortable option for my son. I made the first wrap for him and absolutely fell in love with the experience. I felt so empowered and knew I was on to something.
From there, I played with the design and different knit fabrics for months, trying to find the most comfortable fit. When I found it, I turned our little duplex into a sewing factory, kicking out the kitchen table and couch to make room for all the fabric. After that, I opened up an Etsy shop and just kind of went for it.
What do you miss/did you cherish about the early days at Solly?
My husband and I would work out of the garage shipping wraps together and every single order was so exciting. I still feel a deep sense of gratitude for every order but it’s different when you’re calculating exactly how many orders make it possible to pay the rent.
We also just tried so many different random things. We didn’t feel too tied to any one path for growth and that was just fun (and often stupid, ha!).
When did you know that Solly Baby was going to take off?
I was a few days away from having my third child when we launched our Spring 2014 line. Right before I pulled away from the airport after dropping off our photographer (a good friend doing me a big favor), I checked in on sales and, for us, it was like the floodgates opened. I turned on Bob Dylan, rolled down the windows, and cried the entire 45 minute drive home. I knew we’d hit a turning point in the business.
What do you think has made Solly so successful?
Honestly, we are still small fish in a very big pond, but I believe the success we’ve had has come simply by consistently providing value for the families we serve and doing it with a lot of love and thoughtfulness. When you keep showing up and listening and serving, good things happen.
What is the most touching story someone has shared about their wrap?
Too many to count! I swear I’ve cried at every in-person event we’ve ever had and every other week we’re crying on our team calls because of an email that came in.
One that stands out is a mom who came up to me after a birth circle event we held here in San Diego. She immediately started to cry as she told me that she wasn’t able to breastfeed her baby girl, but wearing her daughter in our wrap made her feel like she hadn’t missed out on that connection. I’d heard that experience many times before but hearing it in person, while she held her baby, made it hit home in a very different way.
Another time a mother who had suffered through multiple miscarriages was wearing her 10-month-old rainbow baby, and she shared that she was so grateful for her wrap because she didn’t want to miss a minute with this long-awaited babe and the wrap made her feel like she hadn’t.
The adoption stories get me every single time as well. It’s endlessly gratifying to play even a small part in helping to nurture the bond between adoptive and foster parents with their little ones.
I also love the new dads and grandmas and friends who create those special connections that may not have happened otherwise. Seriously I could go on all day with this question!
What are you most proud of over these past 10 years?
I know for sure I haven’t done it perfectly, but my goal has always been to do it all with love. That’s always been my aim over any other metric and in every interaction. I really hope my team and our community feels that.
What’s still left to do?
To keep spreading the Solly love! There are so many more families who need the love, the community, and the connection that our products bring.
If someone associates one word with Solly, what do you hope it is?
Connection. Connection with your babies, connection within our community, and greater connection with yourself during what can be a very disconnecting time when so many needs are on you as a parent.
What’s next for Solly?
Lots more happy babies, free hands, and full hearts.
Favorite photo shoot?
The images weren’t the strongest because it was like 100 degrees outside, but we held a photoshoot in our barn a few years ago and it was insane but so fun. My home was packed with families and babies and our team and props and I just loved every minute of it. My then 10-year-old was a production assistant for me (is that legal?) and even though she spent a little too much time at hair and makeup, she was actually really helpful and it was special to have her involved.
Impossible to answer! Liberty of London and Rifle Paper have been pinch-me moments. The wrap we designed with Magnolia was truly a dream come true for me because of how much I love Joanna Gaines. Seeing the work of painters like Jen Garrido, Loré Pemberton and Celeste Clark come to life on a wrap is like actual magic. We are so particular with our collaborations that I have loved every one of them for one reason or another.
Most memorable mishap?
Years ago we had a promotion where we said we’d give away 300 swaddles to the first 300 people who entered the code to celebrate hitting 300K followers on Instagram. The only glitch was that we forgot to put a limit on the coupon code to the first 300 uses—so instead of giving away 300 swaddles, we ended up giving almost 1,000 in the first three minutes before we caught the error. Our employee who set up the code about died she felt so bad, but I thought it was hilarious and the gift-giver inside of me felt very satisfied.
Most impressive thing you ever accomplished while babywearing?
Oh gosh, this list could get long and weird. I’ve wrapped my babies in 8 countries, on easily over 25 flights, trains, boat rides, 12 miles of walking in a day in Japan, so many business meetings, conferences, speaking engagements and photoshoots. But I’m way more impressed by how many times I’ve gone to the restroom with a baby on me and how many times I’ve also held a screaming toddler on my hip at the same time.
Does Lucy ever lament that she wasn’t worn in the wrap?
I think because she used a Dolly wrap and I let her wear her younger siblings, she has enough of her own #sollystories to not be too bummed about it. But, who knows, she’ll probably talk to a therapist about it one day. I decided to just plan on all of my kids talking to therapists about something I’ve done or didn’t do one day. I like keeping expectations realistic around here.
What do you do when you get sad about not having a baby to wrap anymore?
Look at pictures and feel sadder. Haha! And, when I don’t feel like wallowing in my grief, I wear my friends’ babies. It’s a gift to be able to know how to calm someone else’s baby and, unless the baby is hungry, wrapping them works every time!