The Parent tarp
Where her boss saw remnants of baby’s breakfast, Meredith Ferguson saw opportunity. The 35-year-old Cleveland Heights resident and advertising executive remembers the exchange that triggered her inner entrepreneur.
“Meredith,” her boss said nearly three years ago, “Seems like every day, you’ve got something new on your clothes.” And she didn’t mean that as a compliment. First, Ferguson was humiliated, then annoyed.
“Every morning, I was trying to do so much--nurse my youngest daughter before work, get myself ready, pack a lunch, think about client meetings I had coming up, and get out the door,” she recalls. “And then without fail, I’d manage to soil my clothes without realizing it, no matter how hard I tried to cover up.”
Ferguson started looking online for a smock that would help. She found nothing that was attractive enough, thick enough or waterproof enough to keep her daughter’s morning mess off of her clothes.
That’s when Ferguson decided she would create a product herself. So for the next few years, Ferguson devoted all of her spare time to developing the Kikou (pronounced “kee-koo”), a stylish, waterproof, machine-washable wrap that protects parents’ clothes from the inevitable dousing of spit-up, formula, rice cereal and peas.
Ferguson launched the product last month, along with her company, Calm the Crazy, LLC.
“I’m proud of her dedication and how hard she’s worked at it,” says Ferguson’s husband, Josh, who stays at home with the couple’s two daughters, Ella, 4, and Evie, 3. “She’s really done it all. She came up with the idea and sold it, but she’s also stuck out all the little things in between that don’t necessarily yield immediate results.”
Ferguson still works full-time in advertising and desired no part in actually making the product. “I wanted it to look and feel high-quality, so I knew that I wanted it professionally manufactured,” she explains, adding that she tried several manufacturers before finding a match right here in the United States. The Virginia-based manufacturer also makes high-end children’s clothing, so Ferguson knew every Kikou would meet her expectations.
So far, Ferguson’s Kikou has mostly local users, like Shaker Heights resident Jenny Steadman, who has two young daughters. Steadman says she uses her Kikou daily. “My youngest daughter spits up all the time and it’s nice to not have to change my clothes as often during the day."
Ferguson’s goal for the Kikou this year is to continue to build on the steady word-of-mouth success she’s had so far. Right now, the product is available for purchase online at www.calmthecrazy.com. Ferguson is also busy developing two more products that are in keeping with Calm the Crazy’s mission to, as she says, “help manage the chaos of everyday life with kids.” She hopes to launch those products in 2011.
Jennifer Kuhel is a former reporter, trade magazine editor and marketing professional who lives in the Heights. Kuhel writes a blog, http://livewriterepeat.blogspot.com, an essay-style blog that captures her life experiences as a stay-at-home mom to three young girls.