Coco Business Inspiration : Aibi

Aí&Bí Ltd. was founded in December 2013 by Andrea Müller and Barbara Wenk. It is a start-up company with its seat in Binningen/BL, Switzerland. Under the brand AíBí the AíBí prêt à porter: the new baby sling scarf, was launched in April 2015. An innovative company with two #girlbosses behind it. We went along to find out more…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Barbara Wenk and I did launch our brand AíBí in 2015 in Switzerland. Imagine you stand in a supermarket with two full grocery bags to carry home and suddenly your child cries and refuses to walk. Of course, exactly in such a situation you do not have a conventional baby carrier by your side because they are too big to just have them in your bag for these “everyday emergencies” with your kids.

Therefore Barbara thought, “I have to invent something light and easy to use which is also fashionable and which I have always with me”: The AíBí prêt à porter, the unique scarf which is also a baby carrier, was born.

What’s your background?
Barbara is a communication consultant with several years of work experience before she got mummy of two kids, a girl and a boy. Barbara is a passionate tailor and developed the first prototypes of our baby sling scarf. I am a lawyer, specialist in IP law, with over ten year work experience in the luxury industry. Our dream was to build our own brand and when I decided to reduce my workspace, Barbara came to me and said: “I have an idea I would like to develop with you”. Now we are in the middle of building up our own business.

How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
Just Barbara and I at the moment and external agencies if necessary, as we are a start-up with a limited budget. Barbara and I complement ourselves very good. For the reason that we are only the two of us, we work very close and have lot of fun together. Barbara is responsible for the marketing and communication. I am responsible for all administration matters such as law, finance etc. Together we work on product development and sales which is the heart piece of the company.

If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
We have worked for 7 months with an agent to open the Swiss retail market. If we could start again, we would have done this from the beginning by ourselves. We lost time to contact all the retailers in the baby and kids segment in Switzerland. Even though we launched our brand in our own web shop, it is key to be present with our product in the baby and kid retail stores.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
You will laugh when you here it but we have only shortly delivered our AíBí prêt à porter to a German baby and kid retail store and to learn how complicated such an export from Switzerland to Germany in respect of customs administration is even though we are neighbors… But you will face similar problems now with the Brexit…

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Difficult question. People know everything about me. I am an open book.

2016 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
We are a new brand. We need to build brand awareness. As many people as possible need to hear from us. We plan in a next step to open the German and the UK market with our baby sling scarf. We will develop new designs which shall come on the market in spring 2017. We have a lot of ideas for new products in the kids segment. Our vision is to build a sustainable and trustful brand in the kids segment. We want to be close to our consumer and bring products which they can use every day with their kids but which are also an accessory for the Mums.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
All the positive customer feedback in respect of our product since launching it. Lot of Mums tell us that this is a product they were looking for since a longtime or one customer who told us that she has ordered the AíBí prêt à porter, has tested it, loves it and finds it indispensable. Mums are our core target group and such feedback is the best we can have and gives us energy and joy.

Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Honestly, I do not use much beauty products. My perfume, Davidoff Cool Water Night Dive.

Style means….?
…for me being authentic and myself. Feeling comfortable with what I am wearing. Just being natural, happy, kind and have always a smile.

Best thing about London to you?
I love the diversity of London. Coming from a small town in Switzerland, it is great being in such an international city. All the possibilities you have in London and I love the British accent. It’s just beautiful.

Statement shoe or statement bag?
I love bags.

If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear every day?
Our baby sling scarf Design Edelweiss. I love scarves and I always wear one.

Favourite love song?
The Power of Love by Frankie goes to Hollywood.

Best place for a coffee?
As I am living in Basel, Switzerland, I love a little coffee shop called Pane con Cane. They have besides the best coffee also very tasty and good pastry.

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Just be as you are, love what you do, believe in you, live your dreams and never give up.

Guilty pleasure?
I love to eat Swiss chocolate, especially in the night when I cannot sleep, I go to the fridge take a glass of milk and eat a bar of Swiss chocolate.

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Exactly where I live: In Switzerland in the forest together with my husband and our dog Luna, an English beagle.

In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
We have a lot of different ideas but this will be our secret until we have decided to go this way. The focus is on our current product!

Find out more…, twitter @aibiandrea, facebook AíBí

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