Small Business

Buckle Me Baby Coats

Buckle Me Baby Coats

2018 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Bronze Prize Winner

2018 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Bronze Prize Winner

Menu Created with Sketch.
A photo of a smiling child wearing a Buckle Me Baby Coat while buckled into a car seat

 

How one mom invented a functional approach to winter coats for children

Getting the kids ready, rushing around town, helping them in and out of the car — it’s a familiar scene for anyone with young children. And when the cold weather sets in, the whole process gets even more complicated.

“Many parents are surprised to learn winter coats can actually be a safety hazard for children in car seats,” said Dahlia Rizk, owner of Buckle Me Baby Coats. “There’s too much fabric between the safety harnesses to hold the child in the seat properly.”

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and American Academy of Pediatrics both issued warnings against children wearing puffy coats in car seats.

Dahlia’s small business started with her own experience as a parent dealing with the “no puffy coat rule.” She regularly struggled with removing her daughter’s coat when she loaded her into a car seat. Then Dahlia had a novel thought; “If the zipper wasn’t in the middle of the coat this wouldn’t be a problem.”


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and American Academy of Pediatrics both issued warnings against children wearing puffy coats in car seats.


She began cutting up old coats to see how her new idea would work. Her concept was a coat with a side opening that would allow parents to remove the bulky fabric in the middle of the coat and the padding from the shoulders. This meant the car-seat harness could sit directly on a child’s chest and shoulders. After testing out her new design idea, she put together a provisional patent and reached out to coat companies about her idea. “But none of them felt that coats and car seats had anything to do with each other. They didn’t see the problem,” said Dahlia.

Of course, she didn’t let that get in her way. She made a prototype and posted about it on social media. “The post skyrocketed,” she said. “I had people messaging me asking for the product.” She knew she was onto something. She was able to use crowdfunding platforms to start production, and her hard work eventually turned into Buckle Me Baby Coats.


“The post skyrocketed,” she said. “I had people messaging me asking for the product.”


Dahlia’s background is in counseling, and as is so often the case, she’s had to learn about business on the fly. She is navigating a new world of manufacturers, product design, web development, and SEO all on her own. Dahlia does all of this while working on a master’s degree and continuing to develop her counseling business.

“Both of my parents emigrated from Egypt with nothing. Once we were settled here, my dad had multiple side businesses on top of his day job and was a proponent of do-it-yourself work at home. I feel like I was exposed at a young age to the entrepreneurial spirit.”

She says getting started hasn’t been an easy path. “For people who are interested in creating a product, it’s not a collaborative field,” she said. ”Manufacturing has been so much more complicated and difficult than I ever imagined. Even when I had a manufacturer lined up, it was such a juggling act; you have to source everything.”

For Dahlia, motivation is in the little wins along the way. “When people would say ‘we really love what you’re doing’ or ‘we really believe in you’ it would help me get past those brick-wall moments when things weren’t working. I would hold on to the idea that people believe in me and like the product.”

Dahlia has big plans to push her business further. She says her point in developing the coats in the first place was to get them into the hands of parents who need them. “I’m constantly thinking about how I can make this accessible,” she said.

Find out more about our yearly contest and our past winners.