Keelin O’Keefe, founder of KiKi Moon, talks about her startup journey, the bumps along the way and how her products are now getting noticed in America.
Keelin O’Keefe, already a mother of one, got quite a surprise when she found out she was expecting her second baby, due on the same month she had planned to launch her first business.
“I had put so much work into research, planning and design that I couldn’t just quit. I decided to go on and launch the company. I just had to make it work.”
O’Keefe says there is no “perfect time” to launch a company, and most of her new business had been built before its inception.
“I had a beautiful baby girl in March and in August of that year I launched the Kiki Moon online store.”
Kiki Moon is a platform that sells organic baby blankets in vibrant, fresh colours.
“I had a strong vision of what I wanted to design, make and sell,” says O’Keefe. “That’s the most important thing, getting the products right. After that, it’s sheer hard work, organisation and determination.”
Quality of life
O’Keefe manufactures the Kiki Moon blankets in Portugal. “Everyone said I should go to the Far East to make the blankets, but that just wouldn’t work for me. I have two small children. I need to be able to hop on a plane and meet my suppliers within a few hours. I didn’t launch my business to detract from my quality of life. I want it to enhance my life and travelling all over the world won’t do that.”
Setting up the online store wasn’t the hardest part of O’Keefe’s startup journey. “I had to learn very quickly that social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, would play a huge part in our marketing strategy,” she says.
“Setting up the online store wasn’t too difficult because we had a good agency. It was pushing myself to be more open and to share more information on social media that I found challenging. I’m quite a private person so social media wasn’t natural to me. That has changed, though,” she smiles.
An unlikely hero
An unlikely hero for O’Keefe at the start came in the guise of the Portuguese embassy in Dublin. “They were brilliant. They helped me source a choice of suppliers and even translated for me during negotiations. They were great; they helped me open so many doors.”
The business is self-financed with some help from Dublin City Local Enterprise Office. “I found the mentoring very useful,” says O’Keefe. “However, I would advise that you chose your mentors carefully. Make sure they are experts in the field you want to specialise in.”
Keeping in with the Kardashians
The long-term ambition for Kiki Moon is to launch into the UK market (this year) and then expand into the US.
“The States is our target,” says O’Keefe. “We’ve even started a little marketing there. I sent some blankets to Mindy Weiss, a big New York and LA celebrity party planner who does all the Kardashian bashes plus lots of other celebs. They loved them and said they would incorporate them into their baby showers. And recently, a Manhattan based journalist and brand reviewer gave us a fabulous write up. So, we are delighted.”
Asked what her business could do with most right now, O’Keefe was quick to say: “Staff. I’d like more people to help me with the business. There’s so much I have to do, so many areas I need to juggle. But that’s part of the challenge of a new company. You have to accept it’s going to be busy. Very busy.”
Images from Kiki Moon, Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com and DFree / Shutterstock.com.