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Lemons to lemonade feature #15: Keely Shaw

Monday, December 1, 2008
Kiddie Winkles Designs, a company that sells hip babywear, designer diapers and woven wraps, was born out of one mom entrepreneur's quest to improve on the things she and her baby used every day. Keely Shaw also had a strong desire to find a business she could operate from her home so she could stay with her son. Originally, Keely, mother of one, developed the products for personal use, but pretty soon friends were asking her to make things for their babies. In August of 2008, she established the company as an online retailer. Here is her story...

How has this economy affected you, your business and your family?
It has always been important to my husband and I for me to be have the ability to stay home and care for our son. The downturn in the economy caused my husband to lose his overtime, and we took a pretty reasonable financial hit.

I had been making babywear for my son and friends' kids for awhile, and had dabbled a little bit in starting my work as a bona fide business venture, but the new economic situation really brought that to the forefront. I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit (I was the kid in the neighborhood selling cookies I had baked door to door - once, at about age nine, I even went around with samples and took pre-orders!), and in any career, I have always been fixated on climbing the corporate ladder.

How are you making lemonade from lemons?
Starting a business in an economic downtime actually forced me be more fiscally responsible about every business decision I made. I didn't rely heavily on credit for start-up, and I really had to hone and refine my product to make it something worth buying when most people were buying less.

The cloth diaper industry has been experiencing huge growth as people are investing more in durable household goods rather than throwaway items. I have also been helped by the green movement's heightened visibility, and people's desire to make small changes in their own households that really reap big benefits in both their pocketbook and the environment. However, most moms don't want to sacrifice style, uniqueness, and fun to be green and thrifty. In order to cater to these divergent concepts, I was able to come up with items that put a spin on the traditional like leather diaper covers, denim skirt and kilt diaper covers, and embroidered stuffable diapers. I wanted to successfully merge an upscale boutique with a sustainable cloth diapering outlet, and it seems to be the ticket to success in a struggling economy.

Any encouraging words you would like to offer mom entrepreneurs?
Don't be afraid to rethink and revamp. If your business plan isn't fitting with the new economic situation, figure out a way to make it more valuable to people experiencing the same economic downturn. Are your freelance editing jobs drying up? Offer your services editing resumes to give your clients a leg up over their competition. Do you perform a service like decorating, cake baking or wedding calligraphy? Take advantage of the the fact that people are starting to DIY in droves, and teach your skill. There's always a way around with a flexible business model!

For more information, visit or email Keely at