Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alexis Mason, co-founder of Inklings Baby LLC., located in Ironia, NJ, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I'm a Co-Founder of Inklings Baby; we create quirky soft toys and infant novels. Our brand highlights the diversity and celebrates the differences that make all kids unique and special. Each baby from our infant novels is from a different background and family dynamic. By showcasing what makes us different at a young age, our hope is to provide children with a strong foundation for embracing those differences and becoming future fighters against intolerance and hate. We believe that when a baby's imagination is sparked at a young age, their creativity is limitless. We design Inklings to be bright, colorful, and a bit weird for just that reason. Our main customers are Baby Boomer grandparents and Gen X and Millennial parents, aunts, and uncles who are bored with boring stuffed animals and enjoy fun, original designs that are both nostalgic and new. We were kids in the 80s, so it isn't surprising that we like our toys to be a bit strange and fun. In a nutshell, we make weird toys and books with a message.

Tell us about yourself

Talking about myself is my least favorite thing to do, so I'll just do a quick run-through of what I do at Inklings and then focus on how we got started. I'm the Chief Content Officer; I write all of our books and run our website; I wrote a pilot episode that I would like to get made at some point. Whenever any creative writing is needed, I handle that.

We started Inklings when my best friend and partner Aimee had her first baby, my niece Evie. I was the doting aunt, spoiling her with the coolest clothes a 3-month-old could possibly wish to spit upon. The baby clothing industry has changed so much since we were kids; you can find stylish clothes for babies and little kids these days. Back in the 80s, we were all walking around with our bowl cuts and overalls. We noticed that the clothing industry had changed, but the stuffed animal industry was exactly the same. Everything is gray, beige, or brown, and a bunny or a bear. We wanted weird stuff like "Fraggle Rock" type toys from when we were growing up, and they just didn't exist. It didn't make sense to us that babies love color and bright patterns, but the only options for plush were so basic and boring. Since we couldn't buy what we wanted, we made it.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In February of 2020, like a week before COVID hit and shut the world down, we did Toy Fair in New York. We had no idea what we were doing and had no money. It was our first trade show; we live in NJ, about 20 minutes outside the city, so the only reason we could afford to go to the show was that we didn't have to fly anywhere or rent anything. We literally built our own furniture and shelving and drove it in. Sometimes you have to just take the chance. At the time we went to that show, we were in about 4 or 5 specialty shops and selling on our own website. Our business was barely a business. While we were at Toy Fair, we met the buyer from Target, and a few months later, we had our first endcap in Target stores. It was huge for us. It really gave us the momentum to keep going and keep being weird.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I think it's the constant ups and downs. You go into it thinking it's going to be a slow, steady climb upward. It is 100%, not that. Even though you may be moving upward, It's constant swings; they could be spread out over a few months or can literally happen within the same hour. You get great news, and 20 minutes later, there's a major problem that needs fixing. You have to just stick to it and believe in what you're doing because if you don't, it will be easy to just give up. It can be daunting, and if you don't love it, it will be hard to push through and keep going sometimes. It also helps to have a partner; usually, when one of us is having one of those days, the other can pull them back up and vice versa.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Do something you love; if you don't, all the stress that goes along with owning a business won't be worth it. It's hard work, but It should be fun. There have been many days where we've wanted to rip out our hair, but there have been more nights laughing uncontrollably.
  2. Look for a hole in the market and fill it. Whether it's baby toys, sneakers, cupcakes, or plungers, find something that's missing and try to give it to people.
  3. If you're going to start a business with someone else, make sure it's someone whose strengths are different than yours. You don't want two people who can illustrate a book and no one who can work with QuickBooks. I think the key to a partnership that works is that each of you has your strengths, some may overlap, but in the area where you're the weakest, your partner is the strongest.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

In June, for Pride, we are launching Rainbow Wobby and Billy & Wobby's Rainbow Odyssey. Rainbow Wobby is the transformation of Wobby the Wild Eared Wala, from white to rainbow-colored. Wobby and Billy go on a colorful exploration of self-discovery and find the importance of truly being yourself. The story shows how unconditional love and support play an important part in friendship and the lives of those around us.

I think writing this story was important to show how you can be yourself and still be unconditionally loved. When I came out almost twenty years ago, it was terrifying. It all worked out well for me, but that's not the case for everyone. I think if we include stories like this in our kids' lives at a young age, not only does it become easier for the kids who identify as LGBTQ+, it becomes common for the kids who don't to not only accept but celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. When Aimee and I started Inklings, we wanted to design something cool and original that would make people look twice, but also, more importantly, something that mirrored our values.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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