Merino Kids is a homegrown success story - from humble beginnings in Auckland's Herne Bay, they have grown into a hugely successful multinational company with offices in New Zealand and the UK, but for founder Amie Nilsson, the focus remains the same - producing unique, natural products that care for the babies that wear them.
When Amie Nilsson's first baby, Lilybelle, was born in 2003, the options for children's bedding were limited - it was impossible to find any that weren't made with synthetic fibres which are harsh against babies' sensitive skin. Frustrated at the lack of natural alternatives, Amie began researching and soon discovered the unique, breathable fibres of merino wool. Using her design background, and husband James' business nous, she began designing the world's first merino baby sleeping bag, and so Merino Kids was born. Six years on, their flagship product, the Go Go Bag has won international awards and continues to be made from 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable materials.
OHbaby!: How did you develop your business plan?
Amie: I knew the importance of getting it right first time I conducted extensive research into merino and prototyped many different and innovative designs until I knew I had it just right. I discovered that research studies have found that babies who sleep on merino settle faster and sleep better, and that premature babies sleeping on merino gained an extra 10g per day, so I knew I had the right idea, and eventually settled on the Go Go Bag design. The Go Go Bag features
a unique vent function which allows for a buggy or car seat strap to be inserted, allowing for baby to be easily transported between car, buggy and cot without being disturbed.
OHbaby!: What was the hardest
part in the early days?
Amie: Trying to do everything myself, as well as concentrating on the demands of a young family was really difficult in the beginning. There were lots of late nights, but it's all been worth it in the end. Seeing how the Go Go Bag had helped Lily, and knowing that I had the potential to help so many other families with young babies was a real driving force.
OHbaby!: How does motherhood fit in with being a business owner and vice-versa?
Amie: They go hand in hand. Merino Kids was founded on motherhood - how to provide the best sleeping environments for my own children - and now it is just a part of our everyday lives. The children know we work hard, but they also know that they come first. We have great schedules in place, so we are able to be there 100% for school drop offs and pick-ups, meal times and bed times. Sometimes it's a juggling act, but it's always a laugh.
Have you been able to take steps to make your business more
Amie: Merino Kids is our family - we have a wonderful team, and without these very important people it would be difficult to meet the pressures of being a mother as well as manage the demands of a business. We have developed a fun, exciting and family-friendly environment that allows the team the opportunity to have the same flexibility with their own family commitments as we do with ours.
OHbaby!: Do you ever feel "mummy guilt" about working instead of spending time with your children?
Amie: No. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world, and whether you are working full time or not, your children always come first. I believe if you have a vision to make a difference, then you should strive to achieve that goal, both as a family and a business. The challenge is to remember that you can only do your best and if you achieve that then you are true to yourself.
OHbaby!: What do you do to
ensure you have "me-time"
Amie: "Me-time" is very important and I try to practice it everyday! Going for a walk or a run in the countryside with Molly, our dog, gives me the space I need to either process all of the day's events, or just the enjoy the peace and quiet - we are lucky to have moved to a wonderful piece of countryside in Southern England. Winter, spring or summer it offers the perfect backdrop for me-time.
OHbaby!: What products are you
most proud of?
Amie: I'm especially proud of the international award-winning products in our range, which are the Go Go Bag, the Cocooi Newborn Babywrap, and the Cocooi Newborn Sleep bag. We have just launched a new product, the Cocooi Newborn Gown, which features a unique envelope opening for ease of use. We have also designed a beautiful range of sleepwear, essentials and fully-fashioned playwear, which we are very excited about. To complement our merino we have recently launched an organic cotton bag and clothing range. All our products are 100% natural, the best you can offer your little ones - I am proud of all the products we have designed.
OHbaby!: Where do you see your
business in the next decade, and what do you see as your role
within the business moving forward?
Amie: I love what I am doing and it is very challenging at times but the best part of it is about inspiring change. Making a real difference to people's lives - providing natural sleep solutions that not only help babies and infants, but also provides their parents with peace of mind and a good night's sleep as well.
Merino Kids is a global leader of natural sleep solutions for babies and infants. We always spend a lot of time on research and development and this approach will allow us to continue to create and develop some of the world's best natural baby products.
OHbaby!: Do you have a favourite
quote that you repeat to keep yourself inspired when the going gets
Amie: The path towards making a difference and positive change is what drives and inspires me and also challenges the creative and personal motivation behind what I do.
As seen in OHbaby! magazine Issue 7: 2009