Co-Founder & CEO/COO of Baby PeaTree
I am a 37-year-old SoCal, native born and raised in LA Latina. I love my city and will go hard for LA. Typical for the Mexican culture, I not only have a very large family, both blood and extended, but I also embrace my love and support for my family and culture. Love is every part of my everyday life.
Between both of my parents, I have a total of 10 aunts and uncles. Three of them are in same sex relationships. One of my uncles and I, grew up fairly close in age; much more like siblings rather than uncle and niece. He and his partner at the time were married and decided that they wanted to start a family. Unfortunately, on top of the fact that adoption is already a very timely and costly process, wanting to adopt a child as a same sex couple was not easy, which brought them to explore surrogacy. Long story short, they decided to use my uncle through marriage, purchased egg from an egg donor, and one of my aunts volunteered to be their surrogate. It was really beautiful to see how my family stood together and helped each other out to make their dream come true. Both sides of the family were able to be involved and feel connected with the baby. For me personally, seeing this was just the greatest gift. My aunt already had her own family – her kids were teenagers at the time – and to sacrifice her body and her time to help a family member was just so beautiful to see. I think that speaks volumes of the love and support my family has for each other.
A couple of months later, when it became time to organize the baby shower, I decided I was going to lead the planning committee. Unfortunately, during the planning process my little sister and I realized, that there were no products available for same sex parents. Everything we found was very possessive, like “Daddy’s Little Princess” or “Mommy’s little angel”. There was nothing in the plural. In my family culture, homosexuality is very accepted and supported. So we were almost shocked that there was nothing out there to serve that market.
I officially launched Baby PeaTree in April of 2019, even though the idea for the concept already originated in 2010. My sister was still in college back then and was studying business management. She actually came up with the idea that we could do this, and I agreed. I came into this completely unaware and uneducated. Aside from being a heavy retail customer myself, I had absolutely no fashion experience. We started taking notes, doing market research and took on this journey step-by-step. It was actually a very slow process and it took us almost 8 years until we got the ball rolling and started actively working to build the brand. We launched on Earth Day in 2019 and all of our designs were geared towards the modern family; not only to same sex parents but other parents who had gone through IVF, surrogacy and adoption too – literally anybody who struggled with infertility.
Creating a brand that represented these children was a no brainer. I actually didn’t realize how uncommon it was, until we researched organizations that supported same sex parents and interacted with potential customers. You hear it and you read about it, but when you actually meet people firsthand or you have conversations with those who had been ostracized from their family, or no longer had relationships with a family member, because they chose to be themselves, was very shocking. I feel almost motherly about this. I don’t have kids, but with our community, they are now part of our family.
credit: Baby PeaTree
Honestly, I thought, I had a pretty good business mindset. I’ve worked in the professional environment for about 15 years, and I had experience with event planning, coordination, project management and things like that before. I thought, how hard can it be? I also didn’t realize that when you’re working in fashion, you’re working with a lot of creatives. And creatives do not necessarily work on stringent timelines. They are producing when they’re feeling it.
The biggest hurdle for me was to sometimes just roll with the punches. Timelines that I created three months ago, may not be accurate anymore. How do I navigate around that and still meet my goals? In terms of marketing: My sister did have a business background, but she never worked in marketing. My biggest experience with social media was using Facebook and Instagram privately, but that was all for my personal pleasure. So we did some research on how to utilize Instagram for Business, how to handle hashtags and algorithms and all of that. I was up at night on regular basis watching YouTube videos and doing research online, to see what worked best. On top of that, we obviously worked with our big network of family and friends. Simple things like people sharing our page or connecting us with their network, helped us to open doors to a conversation with our customers.
The actual production in terms of working with designers, timelines, what it takes to order garments and to approve designs, was very much a learning curve. I felt like we went to college. But working a full-time career and building a brand from the ground up, made me realize how passionate I was about this.
We believe in climate control and we also have a lot of respect for Mother Earth. Therefore, sustainability is very, very important to us in terms of the brand and for inclusivity. We also needed to keep in mind, that baby skin is so sensitive and because of that, we wanted to make sure to remove any harmful products from our production. This is why we chose to only use organic cotton for our clothing lines.
The original garment manufacturers and the printers that we use are here in Southern California. We do mass produce all of our collections upfront and our warehouse holds the inventory here in Los Angeles. My sister´s job was from the beginning to run all the administrative side from New York. I on the other hand was doing a lot more of the logistics here in California. There´s a lot of navigating and we were really trying to offset workload on each other and be communicative of our needs. There were moments that we were both trying to do it all in the sense of staying true and honoring our commitments and responsibilities for timelines. But at the same time, I think we both had grace on each other and understood that we both still had day jobs. All we could do was communicate our needs and help as best as we could to show up for one another.
When my sister graduated, she started to work at Macy’s, so she was in the perfect retail space to gain more experience with this. We would go to networking events to make connections with people who would also connect us to somebody they know, or to somebody who could help us. We also learned a lot about friends and familiy, where we didn´t even know that they worked in certain professional settings. I get a little emotional when I think about it now, but it was really overwhelming to see the outpouring of love and support in our first year. To some extent, I knew we were really blessed with a wonderful community, but seeing it in front of me, when we needed it the most, was a true blessing. I didn’t expect it. And to be 100 % honest here, 85% of our sales in the first year came from friends and family. They went above and beyond. We had friends who didn’t even have kids and still purchased one of our adult logo tees or an accessory that they could gift to someone else. Family members and friends with kids would buy it and then they would share the pictures of their child in the onesie on social media. If they would purchase items as a gift, they would ask the recipient to send pictures to us or they would post it on their socials and tag us. To this day, I have cousins who are repeatedly buying our items as gifts for their friends, sharing links to our website, or post on Instagram.
I have really learned a lot about the power of taking a deep breath and step back for five minutes. Obviously, I do a lot better when I’m in control of things, but when I realized that I don’t have control over certain things, I can either panic and freak out, or I can find ways to navigate around it and still meet my goal. Luckily, I learned very early on that there were going to be a lot of variables, which have given me a different sense of sanity.
Nowadays, I still do have a full-time career and my hours after 6pm are dedicated to Baby PeaTree. There are definitely nights when I’m exhausted or I´m asking myself why am I doing this. I already have a paycheck, why would I do this to myself. But from day one, my sister and I had a very open, honest, direct and a little touchy conversation. At the end of the day, we are sisters, we are family. If we ever notice that this gets to the point where business is superseding our love and our bond, that’s when it’s time for us to reevaluate, because I will not lose my family over this. So we thought that the best avenue and route was to make sure everything was clean and clear. We are a full LLC today, and we filed for proper legal channels, so that way, there were never those gray areas of dispute. But we also still have this sibling dynamic.
My sister lives in New York so we had to learn pretty fast to run this business with a three-hour time difference. We are very good at keeping open lines of communication and honesty and being in business with my sister made it a safe space for me to say, it’s too much right now, I need your help or I need you to step up. We went through periods where she was doing a lot of the heavy lifting and vice versa. It was that beautiful gift of having each other’s back.
credit: Baby PeaTree
I want Baby PeaTree to grow into a lifestyle brand. It’s about seeing the big picture and making people feel seen and heard. I’m not going to lie, there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears and long sleepless nights that went into this. But through these moments, I really found my passion for the entire community. Same sex parents have struggles that heteronormative relationships don’t have. They have to consciously make a choice to have a child and have to deal with laws and regulations to be able to become parents. How dare somebody not be given the privilege or the right to start a family, just because of the type of relationship they’re in? A lot of them are going through financial hardships and make huge sacrifices to have a child, when it’s so easy for other people.
We knew from the beginning that we were taking a huge leap of faith. But because of the community that we wanted to represent, we were very aware of a lot of additional factors that came into play. There was for example the worry that this product is maybe not out there because somebody had already tried and failed at it, or because society isn’t really ready for it yet. My sister and I moved with pure intentions and thought. We know where our heart lies in this and we know what our goal is. If we make even just one person or family feel SEEN, then we’ve done our job.
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