From Brand Manager to Mompreneur: Karen Ayala of Bubba Doodles
Our children’s art deserves a place of pride in our homes. They are our kids’ self-expression. And while they fire up their creativity, we get a glimpse of their thoughts. Bubba Doodles takes children’s artwork and transforms them into necklaces and keychains. Karen Ayala is the mompreneur behind the idea of transforming precious masterpieces into keepsakes. She has two daughters, 3-year old Adrienne Kalista and 3-month old Adrina Kamara, and she drew her inspiration for Bubba Doodles from Adrina’s masterpieces. We sat down with this inspiring mom to hear her journey towards mompreneurship.
MM: What drew you to this business?
Karen: I've always been in love with kids' art and I was lucky that my now 3yo daughter Kali started “drawing” at age 1. Most of the time, she'd have random doodles but there was a particular moment when she accidentally drew something that looked exactly like a butterfly. She shouted and said "Butterfly, Mama!" and my heart melted. I wanted to capture the moment so I had the drawing turned to a pendant.
When I got the necklace, I wanted to cry! Kali saw the necklace too and immediately recognized that it was her drawing. The excitement on her face was so precious. She loved it so much she didn't take it off for two whole days! That's when I realized that other moms would want to experience that same overwhelming joy too.
MM: Can you tell us about Bubba Doodles? What is it all about?
Karen: Bubba Doodles is a brand that believes that there is magic, a beautiful story and purpose in every art piece a kid creates. Named after my daughter's nickname and inspired by her imagination, Bubba Doodles inspires parents to make the most of their kids' art pieces by turning them into something more timeless and meaningful.
When we started the business, we focused on just kids' artworks but as the business grew, we realized that a lot of moms wanted some form of keepsake but don't have artworks done by their kids yet. Because of that, we started turning kids' (and pets'!) footprints and handprints into wearable pieces as well.
We currently turn the wonderful pieces of art to necklaces, bracelets and keychains. Moving forward and especially this year, we will be adding new pieces to our current jewelry line and extending the brand outside jewelry and turning the art pieces to other keepsakes, so please watch out for it! Yes, we hear everyone! Charm bracelets are finally coming!
MM: What are the wearable pieces made of? How long can moms expect them to last?
Karen: All current products are made of high quality stainless steel, and intricate pieces come in silver or gold. You can be assured that every necklace withstands tarnishing, lasts long even with long amounts of usage, is compatible to those with sensitive skin, and retains its fresh-looking appearance even if stored in a box for a long period of time
MM: That’s great! How much do they cost?
Karen: Prices for our jewelry line start at P2,000. It is best that they contact us directly to have their pieces quoted. We will also have other keepsakes coming out this March that are below P2,000 so we hope they watch out for that!
MM: What challenges have you faced in starting your own business?
Karen: I had a business idea and I was very passionate about it. But I really did not know where and how to start. The ability to meet customers' expectations and sticking to brand principles were most important to me so sourcing the right manpower, materials and partner suppliers from scratch took time and a lot of hits and misses.
It wasn't (and I don't think it will ever be) easy! Especially for someone like me who's been in the corporate world my whole career life. I was a former Associate Strategic Planning Director for one of the top advertising agencies in the country and prior to that, I was a Brand Manager for Unilever so building brands is really something that I am passionate about. This time, however, I'm building my own brand so it's increasingly more exciting!
What’s your favorite part about being a mompreneur?
Karen: On the personal side, it took a while for me to gain the courage to become a mompreneur. I had a great job and leaving it to start from scratch was terrifying. But the motivation to see my two darling daughters’ daily milestones was greater. The ability to experience a new world of owning a business (versus being in the corporate world) and the opportunity to see my kids grow up are irreplaceable.
On the business side, I love hearing stories behind the artworks! We've received a lot of orders from different people but our current favorites would have to be these three: A father surprising his wife with his kid's drawing of her on her birthday, an only grandchild's drawing of her Lolo who just passed away, and the very first drawing of a child with autism. We’re really preserving memories.
MM: In your opinion, what are the main differences between working a regular job and being a mompreneur?
To me honestly, both are the same in almost all aspects. Both tasks require passion, determination, and hard work.
While some would think that going the mompreneur route has its perks (being with the kids more, having a more flexible work schedule) it also carries certain sacrifices, like not being able to fully focus on work the whole day because of the presence of your kids, not really having a holiday, or working 24/7 instead of an 8-5 timeline. Being a mompreneur and a mom who works from home is actually way harder than any managerial post that I've ever had!
MM: If you had to do it all again, what would you change? What would stay the same?
Karen: We're just a few months shy from reaching a year so we are still on a learning curve. At this point, I believe that there is nothing that we would change, but there are too many things that we still want to accomplish, so hopefully nothing stays just the same.
MM: What’s the best piece of business advice you can share with moms who dream of their own business?
Karen: To working moms who are thinking of being entrepreneurs, do not let anything hold you back! There may be so many things that might stop you from starting a business - work, juggling too many things at the same time, stress - but there's no harm in giving it a try. Yes, there will be a lot of challenges along the way, but dreams are better experienced than wished.
Also, who's to say that one can't be both? I started Bubba Doodles while I was in the corporate world and I know a lot of super moms who go to work diligently and are also able to run successful businesses on the side. Women do run the world!
Karen Ayala, President of Bubba Doodles, Curator of Kids' Art
To order, email them at email@example.com.
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