Tell-all interview with Ben & Ellie Baby co-founders
Ben & Ellie Baby co-founders Julie Rout and Jess DeAngelis transformed their nappy bag frustration into a nappy clutch innovation – creating the super practical and super stylish B&E Baby Nappy Change Clutch. Here, Julie and Jess explain the story behind the clutch mums everywhere have been crying out for…
How is the Ben & Ellie Baby Change Clutch unique?
The luxe B&E Baby Nappy Change Clutch is a game changing, premium change mat, made for the aesthetically minded parent. A modernisation on the everyday nappy wallet, the change clutch takes an everyday essential and seriously amps up the style.
Made by mums for mums, this ingenious new design is protected on the Australia IP Design Register and features premium vegan leather, polished gold hardware and a soft waterproof lining. Unique to the product are its magnetic closure and built in wipes pocket that allow for easy one-handed use – essential with a baby in hand. The only change mat of its kind, once you have a B&E Baby Nappy Change Clutch, you’ll never leave the house without it!
You manage to fit a lot in a little clutch! What’s within it…?
- Built in wipes pouch that is accessible one handed
- Magnetic closure that allows you to both roll up and flick open the mat with one hand
- Spacious when open and compact (16x27cm) when closed – caters for 0-2 years
- Water proof lining so you can easily wipe it clean
- Cushioned headrest for a soft landing and padded centre for comfort
- 5 clever pockets designed to store everything you need with elastic and press stud closures
- Baby safe materials free from nasties such as BPA, Phthalates, PVC and lead
- Serious style – buttery soft, vegan leather, luxe French piping and polished gold hardware that stands up to any designer bag
What was the inspiration behind Ben & Ellie Baby Nappy Change Clutch?
Inspiration hit when we started reflecting on the shortfalls of the countless baby change mats and baby bags we tried. Jess was living by the beach at that time and wanted a way to escape the house frequently with confidence, without an entire baby bag, and Julie was travelling heavily with her new baby between countries.
Our babies were born only three weeks apart, so we were always in contact about what was and wasn’t helping us as new mamas. Venting frustration soon turned to innovation. Nappy changes were our target as they were a certainty on the go – with newborn nappy changes happening 10-12 times a day it wasn’t a frustration that was going to go away. So we started our journey with some knowledge, a lot of persistence and a very specific goal in mind.
As for the brand – we played the blame game. Jessica’s first child was called Benjamin and Julie’s was Elena. Affectionately referred to as Ben and Ellie, we decided that as this was essentially their fault, they could take the name sake for the brand.
Tell us about how you met!
We met at university many moons ago, in our hometown of Wollongong, on the beautiful south coast of NSW. Jess was studying Commerce and Julie a Law/Science double. Since then, it’s been more than a decade of friendship – from wild nights out painting the town red, to weddings, baby showers, and now babies, we’ve been through it all!
With our first children born so close together we continued to bond in motherhood and our second children, George and Montana are only six weeks apart. Our lives mirroring each other so closely has taken empathy for your business partner to a whole new level, however we do not recommend aligning the birth of your children with your business partner quite that closely!
What are your backgrounds?
Julie is a lawyer turned marketer with a creative flair and penchant for good design. Jess is an Executive MBA graduate and communications gun with a soft spot for politics and a love for regional development and advocacy. These ladies have cut their teeth at some big-name global corporates before embarking on the journey to motherhood and business. So, did the lawyer and MBA ever think we’d be designing a baby product? No. Did the world need us to? Yes.
Where does your passion for design, functional and high quality products originate from?
Classic style was something that was important to us both before we became mothers, so we’ve carried that over to our product design. We’d both choose something timeless over something trendy so we were quite aligned in our vision. Our design pays homage to the woman behind every mother (that woman underneath the pile of nappies and buckets of laundry, we know she still exists!), while acknowledging the everyday realities of motherhood.
The B&E Baby Nappy Change Clutch is for mum on the outside, baby on the inside. When a product is beautiful, high quality and works like it’s supposed to, it leaves you feeling happy and confident – and doesn’t every mum deserve to feel that way?
Why do mum’s love your nappy clutch designs?
Mums LOVE the soft exterior. The hand feel of our materials is just gorgeous. In fact, “can you make me a handbag out of this” is one of our biggest requests!
Second time mums especially see the value in the cleverly design pockets – everything is in just the right place exactly when you need it, and the built-in wipes pocket allows for one handed access to the wipes, which we all know is a necessity.
Most diaper clutches or travel change mats have only one or two pockets, which really isn’t enough, and leave you fumbling with a half dried out wipes packet while your baby wiggles and squirms those adorable little feet right into the poopy nappy – you can now wave goodbye to that problem!
Babies love the soft interior, built in head rest and the size! The mat has baby covered in full while they are newborn and can be used from 0-2years.
The surprise customer for us by far has been Dads. To be fair, we hadn’t started a proactive conversation with them but they have been huge supporters because they believe the product ‘thinks for them’ and that’s their Dad goal – to make taking care of their kids simpler. The clutch takes the guesswork out of nappy changes for them because they open it and it’s all there. They like that its feature packed especially the magnetic closure.
What were some of the challenges of developing and launching a business with babies?
It’s been a real thrill. A symphony of delight and chaos.
Developing a new product, bringing an idea to life and creating something out of nothing has been incredible. Sourcing materials, refining the design and testing the functionality with our own babies has meant that as product designers and users ourselves, we truly understood the problems that needed solving and the features that were must haves.
Every day throws a new challenge our way, but our greatest, most persistent challenge is obviously that of time. Balancing babies with the business in the pre-launch phase was one thing, but balancing toddlers and newborns with the launch of our business has really taken our multitasking abilities to the next level.
Julie’s second baby decided to make an early arrival and was born the very same day that the business was launched and Jess’s second baby followed shortly after. So it’s been a great balancing act.
We made a pact at the outset that our families and friendship would come first. And this has served us really well. We have each-others back. We are 100% in it as a team and this allows us to take the time we need away from the business when we need it. We are both a little bit obsessed with our product and need to remind each other to stop working and have a break every now and then!
We’re only a few months in since launching and we’re already gaining traction and getting noticed. Mums are genuinely loving the B&E Baby Nappy Change Clutch and for us that’s a huge win.
What have you learnt from the research and development side?
One thing that we found surprising during our product development is that there is a lack of standards that had to be met for baby accessories. Toys and clothes have some standards but what you can get away with for accessories was a real surprise. We were uncompromising on our materials and since becoming aware of this are much more discerning when buying anything that will come into contact with our babies.
What would we like to say to readers?
Treat yourself or someone else. Nappy changes are a certainty. This is truly an investment piece that will stand up to the job, make your life easier and look damn good while doing it. Once you own one, you won’t leave the house without it.
This interview with Ben & Ellie Baby co-founders Jess and Julie was first published on the One Fine Baby website shop on 2 December 2019.