Power Mom: Ali Wing
We talk to the founder of Giggle, way more than just your average baby store
With the tagline “Healthy. Happy. Baby.” Giggle is focused on offering new parents the crème de la crème of baby gear, clothes and basically everything you need to survive the first years with style, substance, and smarts. It’s surprising that Wing, who is one of nine brothers and sisters, actually started Giggle before she became a mom (she now has a 9-year-old son named Tyler). Wing’s genius is that she has tightly edited her Giggle stores to sell only products that pass their rigid criteria. Here, she talks to Elizabeth Street about how parents can make smarter choices when buying baby gear and which new products she’s most excited about. —Melissa Schweiger
How was Giggle born?
I’m kind of a lifetime marketer. I’ve worked with companies like Nike for years and so by virtue of that I’ve always studied women’s markets and I started noticing a demographic change. The parents were older, more educated, staying in cities longer and they were looking for more from their products. There was a really big gap in terms of what you could get in products—this was 10 years ago—and where you could actually get it. We don’t really approach it as a baby business; we approach it as a parent business. We are about new parents and helping new parents. Our first focus is you, not the baby. We love the baby but we’re more about helping you do that. That’s a fundamental paradigm shift for how most baby businesses make everything. Our job is to really help the parents having a good time with parenting.
How is Giggle different than other baby/children’s retailers?
We don’t really feel like you needed to look at 40 car seats with a $20 price difference if two or three cover the key lifestyles and we can break it down for you. It’s a manufacture war industry—everyone is pitching features and functions. A good example is that you can find no shortage of toddler seats that say they last up to 80-100 pounds. But have you ever meet a toddler that is 80 or 100 pounds? We wanted to get rid of the noise and really help people focus on what really matters.
How do you decide what brands to carry?
We don’t really approach it in regards to what brand. It’s more about what’s the problem a parent is trying to solve. Sometimes you don’t need as many product choices as are out there. Our parents want to spend smart. Maybe they want the latest technology, or socially responsible dollars. We always try to meet our criteria. Whenever possible, our cute stuffed animals will be tactile and developmentally oriented. Sometimes parents don’t even know that we’ve done that extra homework. But that should be the reason why two years later you’ll think the products you got from us are the ones you’ll recommend to a friend.
What are the biggest mistakes parents make when creating their baby registry?
When you become parents, you have a huge reliance on your friends, but sometimes they are not living the same lifestyle as you.
And less is more. Buy as you go because you learn as you go. We’re really proud of the fact that we don’t give out a 40-page checklist of everything you need to buy. We sell products, so of course we want you to buy our products, but what we don’t want you to think is that in order to be a good parent you have to have a Moses basket, a bassinette and a co-sleeper and a crib. Then we haven’t done our job.
Also I wish more parents would spend more time thinking about the crib mattress. The sleeping environment for the first year is such an important part of the baby’s development and they spend so much time sleeping. Parents tend to be a lot more focused on the décor and I actually think it’s the reverse. I want to make it easier for parents to do it right. You want a very firm mattress for SIDS. But then you want something that’s dust mite free, low allergen, no toxins. You can’t buy a bad mattress from us, they’re all good—it’s like people who shop at Whole Foods, you have guardrails on your nutrition so you can’t really go wrong. Our edit is so tight that you’re going to get good.
What are your favorite new baby must haves?
1. The Mamaroo
2. Motorola's forthcoming baby monitor, Blink.
3. giggle Better Basics Layette
4. giggle Better Basics Swaddle Blankets and Sleepsacks
5. giggle Better Basics Mattresses
6. Ubbi Diaper Pail
7. Manhattan Toys for giggle Collection
8. C3 Sahara Stroller