Written by Shala Hainer Tuesday, December 06 2011
Snapshot: Sari Crevin, founder, BooginHead
Inspired by watching her son throw his sippy cup time after time, Sari Crevin made the first version of the SippiGrip. It is a product designed to keep the cups connected to the child's seat or stroller and off the floor when thrown. Two years later, Crevin founded BooginHead while working full time as a human resource manager with Microsoft's X-Box team.
Crevin worked in several HR positions before founding her own recruiting and coaching company, Advancement Group. She moved on to Microsoft while working on prototypes for her parenting products ideas. She has increased her product line to include helpful items such as the PaciGrip, PaciBed, and SplatMat, which are sold worldwide through such retailers as Target and Babies “R” Us.
BooginHead products have been featured on TV programs such as Good Morning America and on local news shows, as well as in publications such as People and The Washington Post. Crevin has won multiple awards for her products, including two iParenting Media Awards and Creative Child Magazine’s Seal of Excellence Award, and they were featured in Target’s 2008 Parent Invented Products Program. Crevin was named one of online resource Babble's Top 50 Mompreneurs of 2011. Her products have become favorites of many celebrities, including Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr, and Alanis Morissette.
Crevin lives in Bellevue, Wash., with her husband and two young sons.
Womenetics: How did you come up with the name BooginHead?
Sari Crevin: BooginHead is actually a term we use in our household when someone does something they shouldn’t, but they do it anyways and it makes you laugh. For example, when my oldest son Jake was learning to use his sippy cup it fell to the ground repeatedly, and then he realized it was a fun game to throw it down and watch me pick it up. That is how the SippiGrip was born – but he was being a total BooginHead!
Womenetics: How much different is running your own business from working in corporate human resources?
Crevin: I loved working for Microsoft, and, in a way, staying there for so long while I built my business allowed me to have access to incredible mentors and be exposed to amazing business ways of running a company. But the experience of being a CEO of your own company, having the ability to make the decisions and stand behind them is a much different experience than working in a large firm where there are so many factors at play to even implement one idea or action item. I truly enjoyed the HR piece, but I have always been more of a business person.
Ironically, I think that is what helped me be so successful at Microsoft, because the leaders I was working with from an HR standpoint felt that I could engage and contribute to solving a lot of the business issues in addition to the people issues that came up.
In the end, I feel like working at Microsoft was in a way like getting my MBA; I was never the smartest person at the table, and I was always challenged to raise my game. But I have found my true calling now and know that even if I were to return to corporate America, it would be on the business side – that is really what lights my fire.
Womenetics: What gave you the idea to start a new parenting product company? What makes your products different?
Crevin: If you would have told me before I had kids that I would have a company focused around parenting products, I would have been very surprised. I am a born entrepreneur; I feel that this is something that is in your blood that you just have to do. Before BooginHead, I had an HR recruiting and coaching company called Advancement Group. So when the idea for my first product came to mind, there was never a question that I would try and bring it to market – that is just inherent to how my brain operates.
In regard to how our products are different, we have kept ourselves very focused on a few key areas:
- Parent-invented products.
- The product has to solve a problem.
- Unique and not something that is out there in a big way already.
- Affordable and fall into the impulse-buy category.
- Despite the price – trend right and looks more expensive than it is.
Just by the nature of how we have added products to our line we fall into the pacifier and feeding category and are always working on product development ideas that hit all the above targets.
Womenetics: You started BooginHead while you were working full time at Microsoft. How did you find time to work, be a mom, and be an entrepreneur?
Crevin: This is probably the one question I get asked the most, and I wish I had a great answer to it, but I don’t. If I knew what that the secret sauce was, I would bottle it and be a billionaire. There is a plaque in my office with a quote that says, “Passion is a powerful force that cannot be stopped,” and I think for me that is very true. BooginHead didn’t feel like work – it was something I GOT to do rather than something I had to do.
For Microsoft, I am your typical overachiever and had a flexible schedule because of establishing a good performance base with them. Those two things together helped me balance both. In regard to the mom part – there is a rule in our house. We have dinner together every night at 5:30 p.m. From about 5 to 8, there is a no TV-electronic zone. It is our time to do homework, play, talk, whatever. I literally don’t answer the phone at all until after that. Since I am not looking at my phone while sitting at the dinner table with them, I am able to be more present than if I spent eight hours with them, but was always focused on something else.
Womenetics: To what factors do you feel you owe the rapid success and growth of BooginHead?
Crevin: I don’t want to downplay my success, but I do think with anything there is a bit of luck that comes into play. Timing of coming to market with products that were not out there yet was very important. But what I have learned over the years about why I feel that my company has grown and others with great products have not is because there are a few things I am always doing:
- I grew and continue to grow my company organically – what I mean by that is that it is self-funded, and what I earned for a long time went right back into the business to grow it. I didn’t go into production for a large number of units unless I had the purchase order in hand. I have established a great relationship with my bank, and they are the first to know the successes (like recently learning we would get a 500-store test in Wal-Mart) and the lows of a product being discontinued because it didn’t perform well. We are partners and work together to have the capital to grow the company.
- I never gave up. There were many, many instances that have happened along the way where the majority of the advice I got was to just walk away, it wasn’t worth it. But for better or worse, I am hardheaded, highly competitive, and try to make good business decisions. In the end I listened to my gut rather than the noise.
- I also know when to say when. A lot of individual business owners get so emotionally invested in their product or service they can’t accept or come to terms when it is time to let go and move on. There have been products that I thought were amazing ideas, but when I went out and did the market research with buyers and end customers, I didn’t get the same response, so I didn’t pursue them. Sometimes you have to take the emotional attachment out of the situation to really make good business decisions.
- I have hired employees and consultants that are specialists in their fields, and then got out of their way and let them do their jobs. Empower them – get yourself out of the weeds and focus on the big things. If they are not performing, then you can micromanage it more – but the company will never grow if you are doing it all yourself if you have the resources to have the help.
- Always innovate and listen to customer feedback. Sometimes it can be painful if it is not good feedback, but I will read every single one on Amazon.com or any other site. I actually just got off the phone with a customer that had a complaint, and although I have someone on my team that generally handles customer service, it was a call I wanted to make myself. Stay connected to your consumers and listen to what they have to say.
Womenetics: How do you market your products? Do you incorporate social media?
Crevin: Yes, Facebook and Twitter are things we are on every day – but it’s still a challenge for us to figure out how to really build that side of the marketing. We have been very lucky that our products have been seen in multiple media outlet’s like People magazine, Good Morning America, etc., as a celeb favorite – so we build off that and partner with our retailers to drive the business to them.
Womenetics: Do you have new products coming up the pipeline? How do you determine what's going to constitute your next product line?
Crevin: We always have products in development, and we also have a product-submission program where we pay a royalty fee for a product created by someone else, but that we manufacture under our brand. But it has to fall under the pacifier or feeding category and meet the criteria I mentioned above to hit the shelf.
Womenetics: How do you balance your family life and work time?
Crevin: My answer today is very different than what it was a year ago when I was still at Microsoft. Learning to release the reins and let my employees have ownership and accountability over the day-to-day operations has allowed me to do some things that I like and need to do. I am one of those folks who looks forward to working out every day. It is my stress release, and I truly get cranky and unfocused if a few days go by without that outlet. So for me, after getting the kids off to school in the morning, I work for an hour, go to the gym, then go into the office for the rest of the day. But I have earned my way here; it wasn’t until I was profitable and hired people to help me that I was able to get some more of my life back and create balance for myself. When I was at Microsoft every free moment, outside of working for them, I was working on BooginHead. When my youngest went down for a nap, I would immediately get online.
But with all of that being said – it also still doesn’t feel like work, and I am pretty much always connected. I may be at the gym at 9:30 in the morning, but in the course of that time, I have replied to a couple of mails and solved some issues. At night, the laptop is on while watching TV, and I am always looking at my iPhone. The only way you would catch me not doing that is if I was in a location without cell coverage. It is hard for me to unplug.
Womenetics: Are you hoping to build the business to sell someday or keep it for your children to perhaps take over?
Crevin: I honestly don’t know. I will have to see what the future brings. My mother had a business, and when I was in college she wanted me to take it over and I didn’t want to, so she sold it. I am focused on my three- to five-year plan of building this company in a very specific way with some new revenue streams that are innovative and exciting. I will re-evaluate after that. That being said, I am also a smart business person, and I would always be open to be looking at an offer if it came from the right source.
Womenetics: What advice would you give other women who want to start their own businesses?
Crevin: There is a lot of advice, but if there is one thing that someone takes away from this article I would like them to know that you can go skimp on things like building your own site or marketing materials, but never skimp on a good lawyer. Get one from the beginning, and know it is worth every penny.
Womenetics: Your products have won several awards. What do those awards mean to you?
Crevin: Any award validates that I am putting out products in the marketplace that are not only safe and that companies are recognizing as innovative, but they also are something that the consumer wants.
Womenetics: Tell us about your favorite inspirational quote.
Crevin: Besides the one I listed above – with the recent passing of Steve Jobs, I was inspired to put together a collection of some of his quotes because he was truly a visionary leader. This is one of my favorites:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
Based near Atlanta, Shala Hainer has been writing and copyediting since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the Marietta Daily Journal and the Atlanta Business Chronicle, she most recently wrote and edited articles for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a bachelor’s in communications from Jacksonville State University.