Home IT management From A Moment To A Movement: Baby2Baby Co-CEOs On The Importance Of Giving Back With Generosity

From A Moment To A Movement: Baby2Baby Co-CEOs On The Importance Of Giving Back With Generosity

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From A Moment To A Movement: Baby2Baby Co-CEOs On The Importance Of Giving Back With Generosity

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I’ve always been a firm believer in giving back with generosity, which is why I’ve made it my life’s purpose to close the gender gap, and I recently connected with two like-minded women who’re on a mega mission of their own. Co-CEOs Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein founded Baby2Baby, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing diapers and the basic necessities that every child deserves. In just the last eleven years, Baby2Baby has flourished into a major powerhouse player in the nonprofit sector, distributing more than 270 million items to one million children across the country. Like all great leaders, Kelly and Norah have pursued their mission courageously, compassionately, and collaboratively. Their work is transformative, and so is their story.

Shelley Zalis: I like to call women supporting women the “power of the pack.” Explain how this concept has played into your success.

Kelly Sawyer Patricof: What’s very interesting about how we’ve grown is that we are a woman-led, female-run business. In addition to our predominantly female staff, we’re also very lucky to have nearly 100 incredible women in our Board and Angel group, which has been instrumental in helping us turn the needle. These are strong, amazing women – they’re actresses, celebrities, doctors, lawyers, and CEOs – and they’re not just names on a paper. They’re behind us in every way. They consistently show up to support our cause, whether that’s through donations; attending our Baby2Baby Gala; amplifying our messages on social media; or coming out during the height of COVID to help distribute diapers in masks. They’ve proven – time and again – that they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. And, because 48% of the women we’re serving are single-mothers, our mission really resonates and hits home for so many of those involved in our organization.

SZ: What would you say was the “heartbeat” moment that led you to found Baby2Baby? What’s your advice for other women looking to start their own businesses?

Norah Weinstein: We both had a passion for serving women and children in poverty, and we knew we wanted to join forces to give back and fill a gap. So, we went and met with all different types of nonprofits – from children’s hospitals to homeless and domestic violence shelters – and we asked what they needed. Almost across the board, the answer came down to helping families struggling to afford the essentials. That’s when we had our a-ha moment and were compelled to get involved. We ended up re-launching Baby2Baby, after we inherited the organization from three moms in LA, who had originally started the project as part of Community Partners, which is a fiscal sponsorship program. That said, I think being intentional about meeting a need early on would be my biggest advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

KSP: Eleven years ago, it was just the two of us and one intern. There’s a funny story we like to tell. After one of our very first events, a photo of two of our board members, Jessica Alba and Nicole Richie, landed in a magazine. The next day, in our tiny little 600-foot warehouse, we got a phone call from the publicist for a diaper company and they wanted to donate 100,000 diapers. Keep in mind, we didn’t own any pallets – we didn’t even know what a forklift was, but we ended up accepting all 100,000 diapers and distributing them in a matter of days. This was really a foreshadowing of what was to come. Looking back, I think a lot of our success in the beginning was due to the fact that we just said ‘yes’ to so many opportunities, and then we would figure out how to make them work. We’ve also never been afraid to leverage our network and ask for help.

SZ: Over the last decade, Baby2Baby has distributed more than 100 million diapers. And, you recently earned the #1 spot on Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies List. Would you talk a little bit about your bold approach and willingness to rewrite the rules?

NW: We’ve really tried to tackle this issue from every angle. For example, we’ve been at the forefront of national and federal diaper legislation. We made history by successfully lobbying to have the diaper tax removed in the state of California, where the change so poignantly went into effect on January 1, 2020, two months before COVID started. Other states have since followed suit, including Florida and Maryland.

We also do a lot of partnership with influencers and celebrities. Recently, we did a campaign with GOOP, where Gwenyth Paltrow launched a faux diaper to expose the ridiculous nature that diapers would ever be taxed as a luxury item. From driving legislation in Sacramento to running spoof ads – we’re constantly thinking outside the box to try to find new, creative ways to raise awareness and start important conversations.

COVID was our biggest period of growth, when we went from serving one thousand to one million children. The need was so drastic that we had to continue to find a way to chip away at diaper costs, which were crippling low income families. So, we started manufacturing them ourselves. This approach allows us to produce diapers for as little as 6 cents – compared to 35-67 cents at retail – and reach that many more children.

KSP: We have distributed 30 million diapers so far this year – more than any organization of our kind – but we want to do so much more. We have requests for 1.5 billion diapers for the families we are currently serving, meaning we are only scratching the surface. We will keep iterating and innovating until we meet this need.

Needless to say, Norah and Kelly are unwilling to accept the status quo. Baby2Baby was born out of the need for basic essentials, but the way that this organization is breaking down barriers for children across the country is anything but ordinary. Norah and Kelly are absolute forces, who epitomize what’s possible when purpose meets passion. This Mother’s Day, let’s all take a lesson from Norah and Kelly and embrace our own power to give back with generosity.

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