We had the amazing opportunity to talk with Melissa Jaggernauth, the founder of OneZnality, an up-and-coming online baby boutique specializing in adjustable onesies for babies ranging from newborns to 18 months old. This female-founded business was born for the modern mother and the uniqueness of each baby. As a mother, Melissa knew that baby clothing can become a large and tiring expense. So she created the solution.
What is the mission and work of OneZnality?
The best part is the “grow with me” feature. Each onesie can adjust for comfort and longevity—a low cost-per-wear.
On average, doctors are estimated to be approximately 10 percent accurate in predicting the size of a newborn, which can lead to inaccuracies when shopping for baby clothes. OneZnality’s adjustable feature creates a custom fit for babies of all sizes. The three adjustable sizes are made to fit newborns to six months, six to 12 months, and 12 to 18 months.
So, how does it work? The length of the onesie adjusts up and down to comfortably fit the infant using a patented expandable design feature, termed “grow with me.” Our “grow with me” feature is wildly convenient when inaccurate size predictions are made as well as those unexpected growth spurts. The bonus is that the adjustability magic happens on the inside of the onesie maintaining a very fashionable and custom appearance.
As a proudly female-founded business, OneZnality sets a great example for female entrepreneurs to look to — Before OneZnality did you ever expect to be an entrepreneur?
From a young age, I’ve always worked hard to achieve the goals I set for myself and my family. For example, I remember at the age of sixteen working three summer jobs so we could afford our first family car. It was a salvaged vehicle that I drove till the wheels fell off. Six days a week my routine was to drive two hours to take my mother to work, go to school, go to work, and head back two hours to take my mother home.
I knew I had the drive to accomplish my goals; however, identifying the ‘what’ only became clear with the birth of my daughter, which inspired me to create OneZnality. As I was preparing for her arrival, the doctor assured me that I was going to have an eight to nine-pound baby. My family, friends, and I splurged on various clothing for a larger baby. After 10 hours of labor, I welcomed my daughter into the world. She weighed five pounds and eight ounces. At this moment, I felt like I was starting my journey of motherhood completely unprepared. I didn’t have comfortable, well-fitted clothing to bring my daughter home in. Birthed from frustration, (no pun intended), that was my aha moment, and I went to work on bringing OneZnality to life.
How did you balance your business pursuit while simultaneously raising a child and pursuing your education?
I simply took my time, understood it takes a village, and fully owned that my approach was going to be a personal choice. I didn’t set stretch goals for myself and with every decision, I weighed the pros and cons, while understanding the overall impact on my family.
I decided to roll out my business over a few years. I was able to pace myself, manage my expenses, and budget both my personal and business-related startup expenses, while not putting that stress or burden on my family. I know this approach may not work for everyone, so I highly recommend any parent considering launching a business to develop their budget and timeline and determine which approach is most realistic. This is the time to be the most honest and transparent with your expectations. Don’t forget to factor in the risks associated with your choice.
What is something that you have learned in your journey of creating this adjustable onesie that might shock people?
Most people assume the hardest part of my journey was filing my patent when in all actuality, that was probably the easiest step for me. The biggest challenge I faced was finding the right manufacturer.
My original goal was to have my adjustable onesies made in the USA. I held countless meetings with manufacturers and they all sang the same tune. They stated this type of project wouldn’t give them the margins they were looking for. During one meeting the manufacturer representative suggested that I drop the onesie idea and consider developing sushi or burrito blankets for babies. Another manufacturer wanted to work with me but only under one condition: I had to purchase the equipment needed to make the onesies, however, I would not own the equipment. They attempted to pitch it as a $50k investment in my dreams. I decided to be nimble with my goals and outsource manufacturing overseas. I was then able to connect with a wider pool of potential partners that were all eager and more open-minded. I secured my manufacturer, and my onesies went into production after four years of redirections and hearing “NOs”.
What challenges did you face while launching?
As mentioned above, hearing numerous NOs can present obstacles and challenges; thereby, creating an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and delayed progress. I had to change my mindset and overall outlook. I began to trust that “NOs are redirections to ‘YES.’” This mantra and my unwavering faith have kept me on track, not only with the launch of OneZnality but also throughout my academic, professional, and personal journeys.
What was the most daunting part about starting your business? How did you learn to trust the process and stay motivated during the beginning stages?
The most daunting part of starting OneZnality is what I call the ‘me’ versus ‘me’ dilemma. Essentially, it is the emotional stress that most entrepreneurs do not discuss nor was it something I recognized at the moment.
There were occasions when I allowed fear or the belief that there is a perfect approach to launching my business to get in my way. I spent years overthinking the launch of my business. I wasted so much time because I believed I had to develop this perfect road map for taking my concept to reality. I read countless ‘How To’ books and I even convinced myself I needed to get my MBA to be successful. I believed that I would fail if I had any missteps in my approach and refused to be open to walking a less ridge path. In retrospect, I see that I was creating delays in my journey purely out of fear. I caution all entrepreneurs to not allow fear to hold them back. There is no right or wrong way to do it. The only thing you must do is start somewhere and embrace your mistakes. It’s all part of the journey.
What has been the most fulfilling part?
Knowing that OneZnality is a product available to parents to help plan for the ‘what ifs’ and the curve balls of life. Through OneZnality, I am helping parents be more prepared, provide a stronger sense of readiness, avoid awkward growth gaps, and give parents the best bang for their buck for something we know children will grow out of. OneZnality is a premier onesie that is not like other brands. We are far from ordinary by merging practicality and functionality into an everyday item for children.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to create a great product and brand? What is one thing you wish someone told you when you started the business?
Do your research before you embark on this journey and make sure you understand the market. Be savvy and very thorough in the way you conduct your research. In addition to internet research, here are some tips that I used when developing my unique product:
- Use reputable sources.
- Create a list of product keywords and descriptions.
- Connect with subject matter experts in the industry that most relate to your idea.
- Immerse yourself into the industry.
- Boots on the ground approach.
- Create and test your prototype.
Describe an average day in the life of a CEO of a growing company. What’s something people might be surprised by that’s a part of your daily routine or schedule?
I’m a stickler for routine. I live by my calendar, and it usually dictates how my day goes. I am a true multi-tasker. While I’m taking my daughter to and from school, I’m also on conference calls. When I’m cooking dinner, I’m usually listening to podcasts, and answering emails. My days are pretty consistent and that is by design. I strive for the following schedule: mornings are for family and exercise, late mornings to late afternoons for work, early evenings are for family and late evenings are for OneZnality.
What has been the most challenging part of running your business? What have you learned as you have adapted to changes over the past several months?
Recently, I’m learning not to marginalize or underestimate my brand because it’s a small business or a startup. I sometimes feel like I have to compare my product to the larger-sized competitors only because of the size of my business. I am 1000 percent confident that my product is by far superior, but I allowed the size of my business to intimidate me. Once I started to sell my onesies and heard first-hand how game-changing they are, I began to build the confidence I needed. That’s when I realized that one should never marginalize their brand because it is new to the market. Remember, Amazon started in a garage.
As a small team, how do you work together to get everything done?
I believe it takes a village and will hire professionals, when possible. Your network and connections matter and will prove to be one of your greatest assets. In my experience, every connection has led to another very meaningful connection. For example, my website designer introduced me to my photographer, who then introduced me to my PR firm. All are highly respectable women entrepreneurs following their own paths, making them relatable resources. The best part is not only are they great assets, but they also end up being some of your biggest cheerleaders and motivators.
Any mom hacks that make running a business with children easier?
Hire them! My daughter, now 15 years old, is my COO in training. By allowing her to shadow me, she has become intrigued by the concept of taking an idea and making it a reality. She provides great feedback on my marketing and is also an amazing helper when it comes to those late nights when we are up packaging sales. Not only am I showing her another path to explore in her career through entrepreneurship, but she is also learning valuable life skills not taught in school. Win-win for this momma!
What’s been the most effective way to get in front of consumers?
Marketing is key! Creating strong brand recognition, having reputable collaborations, and being consistent is crucial.
What helpful feedback did you receive during the beginning of the business process?
The feedback I received during my development and launch stages was very helpful. I initially had a vision of how I wanted to adjust my onesies. However, after working with a prototype design firm I learned my vision needed to be tweaked. We spent a year working through and testing various ways to adjust the onesie’s inseam. Being open to critical feedback was something I needed to ensure I was developing a high-quality product that would last long-term and provide the comfort I strived for.
How do you make time for yourself, amidst it all? Or is it not time for that period in your life?
To be a successful mother, sister, entrepreneur, employee, and mentor, I must take care of myself first. If not, all those roles would suffer in some form. I am a stickler for my routine. The analytical side of my personality finds comfort in the routine, which allows me to incorporate the personal time I need to hit refresh. There are days when life happens and it’s easier said than done. Those are the days I give myself grace and still celebrate the daily wins.
Second, I listen to my body and never try to exert myself beyond a certain limit. I find that to be an unhealthy approach that’s counterproductive long term.
Third, I delegate tasks whenever possible.
Any plans for the future that you can/want to share?
I strive to one day have OneZnality (sold) in Target. My ultimate goal is for all parents to view OneZnality as a staple product for their baby’s needs. Everything we are doing now is to accomplish these goals.