When Julianna Shaw had her first child in 2004, she quickly noticed the dearth of eco-friendly, toxin-free baby products on the market. When she had her second daughter three years later, she decided that if the products weren’t on the market, she would go out and create them on her own. Shaw used her background in product marketing and started researching materials that she could use. Shaw discusses how she grew her business from the ground up, and how ZoLi Inc. works to attract a diverse customer base.
How did you first get started on your business?
After I had my first child in 2004, I noticed that many of the feeding items on the market contained toxins that weren’t safe around babies. Three years later, when I had my second daughter, things were starting to change, but not enough. There was a lot of buzz about protecting children from Bisphenol A (BPA) and other harmful materials, but many of the products on the market were still being manufactured with them, including baby bottles. Like many entrepreneurs, I decided to take it upon myself. I set out to create a line of practical, everyday products for babies that were smarter and more stylish, as well as non-toxic and safe. I wanted to create a brand that parents could trust.
What role does diversity and inclusion play in your company and workplace?
Diversity and inclusion are an important part of ZoLi. When we started the company, we aimed to make sure our products as well as our brand encompassed anyone and everyone that was passionate about safety, convenience and eco-friendly baby products. Even though our product base is largely targeted toward women, we aim to hire people based on skill level and passion to deliver the results for ZoLi. We welcome men and women, with or without children, of any race and ethnicity.
How have you marketed or attracted your products to diverse populations?
Based on our brand, pricing and products, we started out thinking we were going to be strictly successful in the United States and Canada. We realized that our packaging was not being inclusive enough for many of our best customers: Spanish speakers. We have had such success with Hispanic populations and sell really well in Spain. So, we made some changes and now are working on having Spanish on all of our products in order to be inclusive of as many different customers as we can.
As a small business owner, how have you continued to promote growth while not compromising your core philosophy and principles?
We are lucky to have such a talented and devoted team of employees. We wanted to make sure that we grew at a pace that was comfortable for the brand as well as our team. In just four years and with only seven people on staff, we’ve achieved 150 percent growth per year while still retaining our core mission and values. We set out in the beginning to listen to our customers to constantly improve the products we already have on the market, and consistently evolve the line to reflect what consumers are looking for. Growth is important as a brand, but the product quality and design stands alone after it launches. At ZoLi, when we launch a product, we want that product to become a staple for families for years to come.
Jeffrey Cattel is an editorial intern at Diversity Executive magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.