Story and photos by Daniel Friedman
Tiffany Christianson of Scottsdale came up with the idea for the Buggy Shady nearly three years ago because the sun kept getting in her son’s eyes when he was in the jogging stroller. Holding the blanket in place while jogging was frustrating. Christianson decided she could make a product to solve the problem. She called Holly Foster, her sister-in-law, who created the design, and had her brother, Chris, Holly’s husband, do the engineering. Christianson, a lawyer, says she is “more business-minded” and looks at the big picture. Her husband Dustin helps with the sales and marketing.
The Buggy Shady, which is manufactured in Phoenix, fits most popular strollers and car seats with a mesh screen to provide sun relief and also a second lightweight cotton layer, covering the mesh so baby can sleep. When the mesh cover is down it is very difficult to see the baby in the stroller, but the baby can see out easily. The cotton layer makes it darker but some light shines through the colorful pattern of the cotton.
Christianson and Foster attended the ABC Kids Expo and received positive feedback on their product. They managed to get some sales in the U.S., Japan and Canada. Every time they do a promotion they see a noticeable increase in sales. Since the beginning, they have continually changed the product to make it better and easier to use. They replaced regular Velcro with snag-free Velcro and searched out the ideal mesh fabric, eventually finding a supplier in China. The prototype used gardening mesh. Christianson refers to this gradual accumulation of sales and exposure as “packing the snowball.”
Buggy Shady is currently available through the company’s website but Christianson expects to see it in retail and online stores in the near future.
“When we introduced it was a difficult time because so many small boutiques had closed, and new products go in small boutiques before they go in any big stores,” she says.
It took eight months to build the prototype. Now there are eight fabric patterns with embroidered and beaded patterns coming.
Strollers have changed a great deal, evolving from simple utilitarian varieties to fancy, high-tech vehicles. They do more and have more options.
“Moms these days are so preoccupied with what their stroller looks like and if it’s pretty. Stroller envy is a very common term,” says Christianson. “(Strollers) are more stylish, so they become an item of fashion.”
Baby products in general are designed to make it easier to be a mom. The coton cover of the Buggy Shady keeps it nice and dark so baby will fall asleep, or stay asleep, as they go from car to stroller and vice versa. As Christianson says, anything moms can find to make it easier to venture out of the house is popular and keeps kids, and moms, happy.
Learn more about Buggy Shady.
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