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As a self-proclaimed “foodie,” Katharine Owens credits Julia Child for inspiring her to be a strong woman both in the office and in the kitchen. She is most inspired by Julia’s wise words: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” Katharine Owens, is the creator of Bon Vivant Baby, a deliciously fun, food-inspired baby fashions line that give parents everywhere the recipe for laughter and enjoyment! Katharine did not start her career thinking that she would be in the baby business.
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Special Powers: I can cluck like a chicken in a super realistic way.
Fun Facts: I was in the wine industry for the majority of my career before Bon Vivant
Baby and was able to travel and taste wines from all over the world. I even made my own wine!
Favorite Brand: Without a question, Le Creuset.
A Made in America Brand
Maker’s Row: Why did you choose to produce in the U.S.?
Bon Vivant: Initially, I thought I would produce in China (Shanghai), once I made the samples domestically. I started production in LA with a sample maker and reached out to an agent in China who I knew through an industry contact—once the samples were done. I had a TERRIBLE experience with this agent and over the course of 4 months, I was in the same place with the agent as when we started. I was very unhappy with the professionalism of this agent and the quality of the goods he was sending me from the factory in Shanghai. But guess what? The pricing was incredibly low.
That being said, I quickly realized that in order to make a quality product and have my hands on production enough to ensure a consciously made item—I needed to do it in the US and price my product accordingly. I knew I would not make an item that would sell for $19.99, but I believed that Mom’s, Dad’s, and gift-givers would pay a bit more for an item that was crafted with care and attention to detail. I wanted to stick to California for manufacturing, as that is my home state and I love it here. So, I spent even more time looking for the right US-based production and am 100% am very happy with my choice to be a Made in the USA brand.
Designer Finds Factory
MR: How did you find and meet your manufacturer?
Bon Vivant: I used Maker’s Row to start my search in Los Angeles only. I went online and looked for manufacturers that had experience in baby products, or women’s/men’s fashion. I was able to email many manufacturers directly and meet with them, to talk plans, pricing, and working together. It was very easy. Maker’s Row made the direct contact possible and I had meetings set up within weeks of inquiry.
MR: Did your interaction with that manufacturer accomplish what you needed? Was it the right factory for you?
Bon Vivant: My first manufacturer is not the manufacturer I am with now. When I started with them, after finding them on Maker’s Row, they were awesome. Not only did they help me putting together my full packaged product, but they helped with my connection to the print company too. I felt like they were an amazing resource for me in an industry that was mostly foreign and confusing to break into.
Right now, I am with a new production team (who I also found through Maker’s Row), and I am very happy with how things are moving along.
The Manufacturing Process
MR: What materials do you use?
Bon Vivant: I use only poly/cotton blended fabrics because these are ideal for the print sublimation. I chose the fabric very carefully because it is soft and has an incredibly gentle hand-feel, which all parents want! I found it thanks to the help of my amazing fabric house. The patented Dri-Release stretchy cotton-polyester fabric is both GREEN and ECOFRIENDLY without the use of harsh chemicals.
MR: How do you find your materials?
Bon Vivant: I was referred to my fabric house through a connection I made on Maker’s Row!
MR: What tools, machinery, and processes do you use?
Bon Vivant: The most involved process is the dye-sublimation to get the photographic image of the design of the pattern onto the fabric. I have a great company in Los Angeles that not only helps me prepare the artwork for print, but they also complete the print process for me.
If you need more specifics on each item, you can find all of my product copy, photos, and more information on our website through my profile.
MR: Why did you choose to use Maker’s Row?
Bon Vivant: Maker’s Row has so many things to love! The site connects people in an industry that is VERY hard to break into without educational experience or strong industry connections. Manufacturing is HARD, and you have to totally trust and rely on your production team to fulfill your vision and dream. I felt like it was the best single resource for me on the road to building my business—without a question. I am totally confident in saying that without Maker’s Row, I would not be where I am today.
MR: What are you working on next?
Bon Vivant: I just launched 2 new swaddle blanket & hat sets this month—Lil’Sushi and Lil’Eggroll. That is keeping me very busy, and I am developing some awesome “food-inspired” newborn baby burp cloth & bib sets that will launch in 2015!
Have a successful Made in USA story of your own? We would love to hear more. Let us know in the comments, or email us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org!