Interview with Sili Squeeze entrepreneur Kristin Ahmer
When Kristin Ahmer’s baby son squeezed a disposable food pouch all over himself, it inspired her to develop a squeeze-proof, resuable version. Today she owns three patents and an international business. She tells us how she did it.
What’s your career background?
I have a background of 10 years in accessories design, apparel product development and manufacturing, with an emphasis in brand development.
What inspired you to create Sili Squeeze?
When my son was 10 months old, he squeezed a disposable food pouch all over himself and his car seat when we were on-the-go in the car.
It prompted me to explore if there was a reusable food pouch on the market that was squeeze-proof. There was not! So that night I drew my design for the Sili Squeeze on a napkin and started mind mapping my action plan for product development.
How did you go from having an idea to creating an actual product?
First step is to write it down, create mind-maps of the steps you need to make your creation come to life. Then step back and take baby steps in order of priority. Legal considerations should always be #1.
And then how did you go from just having a physical product to growing a successful company?
We are lucky that our product is not a gimmick and that it truly is a helpful feeding accessory for parents or caregivers on-the-go. If mums love a product, they tell other moms. If they hate a product… same thing. I’m very grateful that the mum community has loved our product and shared the excitement amongst their community. Mums and babies are our best sales reps!
Did you create a patent for your product? And if so, what was that process like?
The process is a long one! It’s is an expensive journey as well. We have three patents now and are in the works of obtaining more.
How have you managed to spread the word about Sili Squeeze?
The ‘Mummy Underground’. As expressed above, mums sharing the excitement about Sili Squeeze with each other. We have also had great success on social media and mum bloggers testing our product and giving honest reviews.
How does Sili Squeeze help mums?
The Sili Squeeze allows mums to make a healthy homemade smoothie or puree, and bring it along with them on-the-go with their child, so there is a healthy snack option available.
You can’t always eat yogurt with a spoon on the airplane or train with no mess with a two year old. But with the spill-proof original Sili Squeeze mum, can feel confident that her little one can enjoy a healthy yogurt snack or smoothie, on-the-go, with no mess.
Where is it available in the UK?
You can buy Sili Squeeze via our UK website. It’s also available on JoJo Maman Bebe and from selected nursery retailers.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far in building your business?
Scaling efficiently and managing the cash flow to support the scaling. We grew to distribution in 20 countries globally in less then a year of launching our distributor program.
And your proudest success?
My two healthy, smart, funny, crazy kids of course!! That was my initial reaction!
But from a business perspective, my proudest success so far is a recent partnership for an exclusive design form a large big box retailer in the USA, which will launch in early 2015.
You now have a team of people working for you. What’s it like to be a boss?
I love leading and I love inspiring. I love having my own company and having the flexibility I do to work around my children’s schedules. It also can be very stressful at times, and many sleepless nights.
But at the end of the day, I always remind myself, we are not saving lives, these are just Sili Squeezes. There is always room to pivot and adjust, and there is no such thing as failure. Challenges and obstacles will always arise, it’s how you learn to react to them, grow from them and build upon them that matter.
When you are the boss, you have to have this mind-set, as your team is always watching how you respond when you get that flat tire, just as much as they are looking at you when you get that business award.
How do you juggle your business with your family?
My family always comes first. Sometimes this means waking up at 4am to tackle emails and projects, sometimes 3am. I work from my home office, so often times my children are building Legos or doing art projects at the extra desk, if they aren’t at school or the park. I’m thankful for technology, as these days you can truly work remote from anywhere.
What’s your vision for Sili Squeeze?
Currently we are pushing to scale into the big boxes in the USA—as we have done a great job saturating many high-end children’s boutiques. We also have recently launched in the States a Funnel accessory that makes filling any Sili Squeeze easy.
We also have plans to launch an adult spout attachment, that will cater towards the active athlete that could use a squeeze pouch for power gels or protein shakes while competing or engaging in active sports.
Who inspires you?
My children. They inspire me to be the best role model that I can be, both professionally and as a mother. Nature inspires me as well, and keeps me grounded.
What advice do you have for other mums who have great ideas for products?
Write it down and visualize what you want to create. Map out very detail you think you need to consider… legal, product design, prototyping, development, sourcing, packaging, fulfillment, trade, your competitors etc. It will be a long list.
Breathe, then create a daily, monthly calendar, and each day take a step. You will get there if the big picture doesn’t overwhelm you. And a glass of wine or two helps after the kids are in bed!
You can find out more about and buy Sili Squeeze from their website.