Tiller’s founder, Kathleen Sheppard, sat down with Jenny Drew Garabedian to continue our Female Founders/Creators spotlight. Jenny Drew started her clothing brand, all the babies, to bring organic, simple & chic basics for...well...babies! The brand has expanded into adult sets as well and has a simple mission of making high quality pieces and giving back.
Tiller: Tell us about yourself!
Jenny Drew: I grew up in Los Angeles, CA and have truly loved every moment of being here. I played competitive soccer since I was 6 years old and always had a dream to go pro. After getting injured during my high school season, ultimately preventing me to pursue a career in soccer, I ended up going to the American University of Paris –– in Paris, France. There, my life took a turn in the best way. I was a nanny of three French kids, and I fell in love with the simplicity of their clothes, the quality of their fabrics. I decided I wanted to do something around fashion and philanthropy but I didn’t quite know what that looked like. Fast forward to my remaining college years –– this time back in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California. I interned at various different companies targeted around fashion and philanthropy. In the moment, I loved working for those companies, but I didn’t love what I was doing. Now, I look back at all those experiences and feel so grateful because I realize just how much they led me to what I am doing today. Now, here I am a year later with a clothing business that I founded with my mom with a mission to give back to babies in need through our model — wear. grow. give.
T: What sparked your interest in starting something of your own and what was the inspiration that led you to start all the babies?
JD: I have wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was a little girl. I used to run to my mom with new ideas all the time. First it was the “Beauty Bus”…a mobile bus that would take care of all your beauty needs from nails to hair to makeup while on the go, then it was “Wonderworld Writing”, a beautiful, lofty creative space for writers. And now, the realest one of them all, all the babies. Since babies outgrow their clothing so quickly in their first two years of life, I realized that there was a real philanthropic giveback around that. I combined my love for fashion and philanthropy and I truly learned as I went. I had no background in fashion, just a vision and a big big heart.
T: Tell us about all the babies - when did you start the brand and how did the process go?
JD: I got the idea for all the babies early on in my college career but didn’t run with it until around 5 years later. I kept talking about it, but never did anything to really dive deep. After declining a job offer my senior year of college, I decided it was time to stop talking and start doing. So, I worked retail at Glossier to make ends meet while I spent the year building my business. I started with some non-negotiables –– organic, great quality fabrics, sustainability, simplicity, and a giveback model. From there, I started researching and each new search led me to a new development, a new lesson. Slowly, I started finding my people. This was the hardest challenge of them all. I started working with a freelancer because it was hard to find factories on my own and I just didn’t understand the fashion world at all. I quickly realized that was too expensive and left me feeling too removed from the in’s and out’s of the company. So, I went back to my fabric manufacturer –– he’s the best –– and he connected me to an 85 year old production manager, who connected me to all his people. Now, I have my four people that are all within 20 minutes of each other in Los Angeles, and I actually understand what a pattern is, a sew by sample, a cutting ticket, a grade and mark, what low impact dyes are, and I am finally in a really special groove when it comes to running the in’s and out’s of my business and industry. I started small with some personal savings and help from family, and ever since we have just been slowly pouring back what we make in sales into the business. We haven’t lost money yet, which is pretty big for year 1, but we are working hard to start turning a profit for year 2.
T: What does your brand stand for? What is your mission?
JD: All the babies has five essential core values that are the basis of everything we do –– be inclusive, keep it simple, activate empathy, cultivate community, stay inspired. Everything we pour into this business, goes back to these core things. Ultimately, these core values pour into our mission to create a mom to mom movement through our model, wear. grow. give.
T: What was the most difficult part of starting your own business? What has been the most rewarding?
JD: The most difficult part was believing in myself through all the failures and the learnings. I truly had no experience in the industry and it was hard feeling like the dumbest person in the room amongst all of these people who have been working in fashion for years. It’s hard to release something that is “your baby” to the world, and the vulnerability that comes with that. The most rewarding is seeing my vision come to life –– trusting my gut and having it work out for us. More than anything, the most rewarding has been seeing the community we have created. Seeing people smiling in our clothes, matching in them, making memories, moments, giving back to babies in need. There is so so much that makes me smile every morning when I think about what we have built.
T: How have your previous experiences shaped all the babies and what makes the brand so unique?
JD: Working with so many unique and philanthropic brands definitely helped me craft something transparent and special in all the babies. I think our giveback model definitely sets us apart, and my hope is that it really starts to latch onto our audience and that we can really create impactful change for babies in need. Studying communication and entrepreneurship and working in customer facing jobs and with social media, really helped me properly tackle the story I wanted to tell my customers and how I would tell it. It helped me listen and learn from my customers and so much more. I feel like every ounce of experience I have had, has poured itself into all the babies in ways I couldn’t even have dreamt up. It’s almost subconscious. I am so grateful for the experience I have had to get me to this place, and I am still learning and growing and facing so many new challenges with each new day.
T: What does a typical day look like for you as a full-time founder/entrepreneur? What did the process look like for getting to this point?
JD: Every day really is different, but since my mom's role as co-founder is more hands off, I am doing all the day to day things like social media, customer service, production/design, administrative duties, hand packing all the orders, mom to mom stories. Basically, you name it, and I’m on it! We finally just hired paid interns, which feels so special and will really help us get through the holidays. The process to get here was a lot from word of mouth. We started by gifting some micro influencers, or bigger influencers and in the mom community, in any community, word of mouth is a big one for growing. That helped us grow and grow, and then we came out with matching adult sets right in the start of COVID and I think that really got us on the map. Now, it’s about focusing on growing and connecting back to our mission –– I have been so busy with the day to day that I don’t want to lose sight of why we started.
T: What advice would you give other women who aspire to leave their day job to follow a dream or to launch a company?
JD: You are a bad ass and you are capable of anything you set your mind to!!! Stop talking, start doing and you will be so blown away by what you can accomplish. Go for it, trust your instincts. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, and probably a lot of sacrifice, but you will be so proud of yourself for just trying, and hopefully succeeding.
T: What does the future hold for all the babies?
JD: I am definitely a big dreamer so we have some big goals. I would love to start to really foster a community –– think Goop summit but for babies and families, centered around giving back, having hard conversations around infertility, loss, love, all of it. I want to create a space where we can laugh, cry, and just feel comfortable and not alone in our experiences, but supported. It’s always been about more than clothes for us. I also am definitely wanting to expand our size range and keep expanding it as we “grow with your baby,” and start to think about a subscription model centered around our giveback.