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Behind Bellabu Bear: Why Influencers Love These Bamboo PJs

Tamara Kaakani, founder and designer

If you’re one of The Labrant Fam’s 12.3 million YouTube subscribers, you probably recall the family recently bringing home their first son, Zealand. After a two-week stay in the NICU, the long-awaited take-me-home video went live August 15, receiving over 4 million views—with one of the most delighted viewers being Tamara Kaakani, founder of Bellabu Bear. “The video started, and there it was in the first second,” the owner of the year-old sleepwear brand recalls. “Zealand was wearing our signature milk-and-cookies print!”

But that was just the beginning of a terrific day for Kaakani. Later, Zealand’s mom, Savannah LaBrant, with nearly 7 million Instagram followers, posted a photo of her two daughters and their new brother, wearing coordinating Bellabu Bear milk-and-cookies jammies, kindly tagging Bellabu’s account. Even better, Kaakani says none of the exposure was paid.

“I only send influencers free samples for consideration,” she says. “If they like them, great! But there’s no dollars or deals behind what I send.”

The organic marketing strategy has proven effective beyond the LaBrant family. Over the past few months, Kaakani has sent samples to key influencers, like Mila and Emma Stauffer; Taytum and Oakley Fisher and Elza Boulanger, and yielding similar results.

Bellabu Bear typically sees a boost of a few hundred followers each time an influencer posts a video or photo that includes its pajamas. Now approaching 12K Instagram followers itself, the Los Angeles-based eco-friendly brand is pleased with the growth, but its success to date goes beyond social media hits. “While the praise from influencers has certainly been helpful, Bellabu Bear’s quick success ultimately boils down to our extreme attention to detail and superior customer service,” Kaakani affirms. “It’s all about consistency and listening closely to customer feedback.”

Along those lines, Kaakani was customer No. 1. As a new mom seeking clothing for her baby daughter, who suffered from eczema, she was stumped. “I began by cutting out all the tags inside her clothing, changing all my detergents and bath soaps, and buying only 100 percent organic products without any seams or embroidery that could cause irritation,” she says. Then, after much research, she discovered bamboo was the only material that didn’t cause irritation. But finding a bamboo brand whose products didn’t have a strange chemical smell was another roadblock.

“So, like any good mom, I decided to take matters into my own hands,” Kaakani says, noting her MBA and a life-long interest in fashion has come in handy. “I’m still a one-woman show, but I couldn’t be more proud of where we are today and where we could be in the future.”

The LaBrant girls with new brother Zealand

Here, Kaakani reveals the key ingredients that make Bellabu Bear a sweet success story.

What makes your PJs special? Our yarn comes from organically grown bamboo and our entire outfit is Oeko-Tex-certified—free of chemicals and sourced from a trusted bamboo distributor. Our zippers come from YKK and have passed all safety tests and are free of harmful substances. The entire garment is constructed to be pinch-free and worry-free, down to our printing method that doesn’t compromise softness. Bellabu Bear is the only apparel brand awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association.

What’s your strategy behind launching new prints? First, each design is a hand-drawn, work of art. We try to create designs that can be worn any time of year. For example, we released our rubber duck print around Easter because it seemed festive, but rubber ducks can be worn whenever. We also try to be inclusive around the holidays. We’ll create a beautiful print with evergreens, but you’ll never see us put a star on top. And while milk-and-cookies is our signature print, we offer many other fun designs, like ABC Dinos, Basketball Dogs and Moody Monsters. We’ll be adding a lot of new prints soon that will  be quite yummy.

How have you perfected the fit? That comes from listening to customers and making changes as we grow. I’m very transparent if the fit is slightly different than a previous collection. I inform customers whenever possible, and I’m extremely flexible when it comes to returns. If something doesn’t fit perfectly, send it back—no questions asked. But we’ve shipped thousands of orders, and I’ve only had three returns.

Any advice for fellow momtrepreneurs? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The only way to grow is to step outside your comfort zone.

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