Cecilia Tsai is one-half of the wife & husband power duo behind the MiaMily company and the award winning innovative baby carrier that has been changing the lives of parents globally: The HIPSTER Plus 3D Baby
Born in New Jersey, Cecilia and her husband Alessandro have quickly received the approval by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, won countless awards such as the Bizzie Baby Gold Award, Mom’s Choice Award, New Arrival Cribsie Award, Consumer Award, Best Baby Carrier Award and several others, and on top of all that have garnered celebrity fans such as Kate Hudson, Joanna Gaines and Eva Chen for their product.
From her time in New Jersey, to working as a publisher of a journal in Hollywood, to now being a hard working mompreneur, The Levity Ball sat down with Cecilia to find out more…
To start off, you were born in New Jersey but grew up in Taiwan… What big differences from the US and where you grew up have you noticed throughout your life? Do you miss New Jersey at all?
Being born in New
Jersey was part of a bigger plan my Taiwanese parents had for me. They were determined to give me an America education so I could have better work opportunities in the future. Since one had to be an American citizen to go to the American School in Taipei,
my mom flew to New Jersey when she was pregnant with me and when I was 3 months old, we flew back home to Taiwan where I stayed til I left for university at 18 years old.
You used to work in Hollywood, California as well in the entertainment industry working as a PA and also as an Associate Publisher of Entertainment Today (newspaper). When did you first get that feeling that entertainment wasn’t your lifelong passion and you
wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I graduated from
University of California in Irvine with a computer science bachelor degree to please my dad but deep down I had no interest in computer science so when my friend who was directing his feature film offered me an unpaid Production Assistant job on his movie
set, I agreed immediately.
With no film background,
I had to learn everything on set and to survive and pay rent, I accepted any job that came my way. In my 4 years in Hollywood, I learned how to work as a script supervisor, production designer, assistant editor and assistant director. Eventually I started
my own video production company with some friends and we were making mobile video content before Instagram was even invented.
I fell into the
role of the associate publisher of the weekly newspaper Entertainment Today in a similar way as I did with my film experience. The original owners of Entertainment today were not able to pay its bills to its printer so to settle the debt, they had to give
up the business to the printer. The owner of the printer saw a movie I had worked on and approached the producer of that movie and said “if you can make a movie, I’m sure you can make a newspaper, how would you like to take over Entertainment Today?” I was
the assistant director on this movie so the producer asked him to join him on this new adventure.
Despite having absolutely
ZERO experience in journalism and publishing a newspaper, we decided we needed to start fresh. We replaced the old ET staff and hired new staff from our movie crew. Our sound engineer became our web manager, our grip from the movie’s electric department became
our graphic layout designer, my director friend became our writer and we camped out in the office for two weeks straight scrambling to put together our first newspaper!
Funny story, I loved
horoscopes so I really wanted to add a horoscopes section for the newspaper but with no budget, I couldn’t find any astrologist that would write for us for free so in the end, I decided to write our own horoscopes! It became one of the most popular sections
of the paper!
My experience on
the movie set and in journalism really shaped my entrepreneur spirit. In both cases, I had to reinvent myself and learn completely new skills. These experiences trained me to become a problem solver who thinks outside the box. It gave me the self confidence
to know that if I just work hard enough and don’t give up, success will come.
2. How did you come up with the idea for your HIPSTER 3D Baby Carrier, which has changed lives for countless families around the world.
When I became a first time mom, I was holding
her baby with bad posture and pinched her nerve which cause terrible back pain and made it impossible for her to carry her baby. I was desperate for a solution and tried all the baby carriers in the market but never found a carrier that provided the proper
back support I needed so I set out to create a carrier that not only is ergonomic for baby, but also is ergonomic for the parent. With my family in manufacturing, I was able to make some prototypes of my dream carrier. Alessandro and I travelled a lot of
baby Mia and we always brought our baby carrier prototype with us to use. When strangers started to stop us and asking for the brand of the carrier, that’s when we knew we had created something special and decided to launch our idea on Kickstarter.
3. What makes your baby carrier different to others available in the marketplace?
wraps or soft structured carriers, our carrier has a built in 3D hip seat incorporated inside and that’s why we call it a 3D baby carrier. The 3D hip seat makes all the difference because it absorbs the weight of the baby so parents feel less stress and pressure
on their shoulders and back. The innovative hip seat also ensures that no matter which position you carry your baby, whether it’s facing in, forward facing, side carry or back carry, your baby’s hips are always in the correct M position, knees supported at
hip level, legs open and not dangling. We also have the highest waist belt in the market which provides proper lumbar support for the parent.
4. How important was crowdfunding to the success of your company/product?
We would not be
here without crowdfunding. Crowdfunding launched our business and gave us an incredibly close connection with
the actual users of our products.
Back in 2014, when
we went on Kickstarter, all we had was a few prototypes and a video explaining the concept of the baby carrier. We had no clue about marketing and absolutely no budget to spend on promoting the video so we went on facebook and asked all our friends to share
the video. To our surprise, in 30 days, we raised 300% of our campaign goal, sold almost 700 carriers to 33 countries.
exposure is extremely powerful for startups who have no money to promote on such a big scale. Our campaign gave us the funds we needed to produce our first 1000 carriers and the confidence to pursue this business seriously.
In 2016 and 2018,
we launched 2 new baby carriers on Kickstarter and all together we raised $300,000.
To us, Kickstarter isn’t just about producing
your first product. We really believe that crowdfunding is a smart way to grow a long-term and stable business pushed and supported by direct users. This to us is the essence of crowdfunding!
Why the company name MiaMily?
When we were coming
up with names for our first daughter. Mia was our first choice and Emily was the second name choice so we decided to combine both names. At the time, Mia was only 1 year old and we had no idea if we were going to have another baby. We just hoped that if we
did, it would be a girl so we could name her Emily!
Being a mother and also working alongside your husband in this venture must be a blessing. What tips do you have for other mothers wanting to create new products and those that work with family too, to make it all work?
Since we sell worldwide, a typical day would start with an early morning call with our Asian distributors, then we go to the office and work with our European team and in the evening, we are often on calls with our US retailers. The hours are long but the blessing of running our own business together is we get to set our own schedules and we make sure we never miss any school activity and that one of us is always there to take the kids to school and to pick them up from school at 3:30. I gave myself a rule to not work from 3pm to dinner time so I get to spend quality time with the kids, then once the kids go to bed, I usually continue working til 1am. We are also very lucky that we can run the business anywhere in the world via internet so we still get to take the kids on holiday without having to take a break from work.
I get asked often
how I manage to juggle it all and balance work and family. First of all, no one has ever asked this question to Alessandro, yet when it comes to a working mom, I feel there definitely is this hidden societal pressure that she somehow has to be able to “do
it all”. I want to break this unrealistic image and be very transparent and emphasize that I do not do it all. We have a lot of help with the kids. While the girls are at school, Nonna takes care of Noah during the day and we have an amazing housekeeper that
takes care of all our house chores. I literally haven’t done laundry in years. My best advice for couples working together is to make it a priority to have help. Working together with Alessandro was extremely difficult for the first two years, we did everything
together and there were a lot of arguments. I’m happy to say we’ve finally found a way to work together without conflict. My second advice for any couple working together is to separate your responsibilities really well so there is absolutely no overlap and
then respect each other’s decision in their department and be supportive even if they mess up which will happen.
Where in the United States (including here in New York) can people buy your products?
You can buy from our website (www.miamily.com) or from BuyBuyBaby, Target, Macy’s, Saks 5th Avenue and Walmart.
|Miamily Hipster-Premium 3D Baby Carriers for healthy baby & mumMiamily the Swiss premium 3D baby carrier brand. Practical & versatile while protecting baby’s hips & parent’s back. Carry baby in up to 9 positions. Cool!www.miamily.com|
And final question: What would you want yourself and MiaMily (and your product line) to be remembered for in years down the road when people look back?
Alessandro and I met each other through a charity fundraiser and our biggest dream is to make MiaMily into a household name so that we could have enough resources and influence to pay it forward by incorporating a charity aspect to the business to help less fortunate families and make a difference in the world.