Reili Gomez is the founder and owner of Urban Tots, an online baby clothing company that sells high-quality, trendy babywear. After having her first child, Reili had an important decision to make; to go back to work only 8 weeks after giving birth, or find a different way to pay the bills. She chose the latter and started the company in 2016.
While the business began in Reili’s spare bedroom, it’s today grown to achieve 10% growth every year. She’s also currently in the process of hiring a shipping distribution company to take care of dispatching orders, leaving Reili to grow the business and continue to offer the personalized service the brand is well-known for. We’re interested to hear the story so far, so we catch up with Reili to tell us more.
Who are you and what brand did you start?
I am Reili Gomez - a mother of two boys and an entrepreneur. I was born and raised in a small country in Europe, Estonia, where I got a Masters degree in Mining Engineering but today I own an online baby clothing company Urban Tots. Our collection has strong focus on urban, high quality, on-trend baby wear, ranging from newborn to toddler. We source our vast collections from all over the world. Our customers are expecting parents, new parents, friends of those parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents etc all over the world - basically everyone who has or knows someone with a small child.
I started off by myself shipping out orders from the spare bedroom in my house but our products are fun and unique and hard not to love so the business has grown exponentially since then. Now I’m proud to say I’ve helped several new moms stay at home with their little ones by hiring them at Urban Tots and giving them opportunities to work either remotely or to take their child to work with them.
The company was founded in 2016 in Las Vegas Nevada as that is where me and my family resided however being we split our time between here, Colorado and Texas.
How did you come up with the idea, brand name and logo for Urban Tots?
I have wanted to become a business woman since I was in high school however for financial reasons I decided to pursue a career in the corporate world, and so began studying Mining & Engineering instead of Business Management.
Fast forward 10 years when I had my first child, I was faced with the decision to return to work 8 weeks after giving birth or figure something else out to pay the bills. You could say this was the moment I decided it’s time to revisit the business-owning idea.
The last push came from my dear friend in Australia who had also had her 1st baby just 6 months earlier, and who had then successfully launched her online baby clothing store. She suggested to me to try the same, and gave me all the advice she had. We agreed that she will focus on the Australian market and me on the U.S. market so we wouldn’t be competitors to each other. She runs her business in Australia still today and I am extremely grateful for her. I wouldn’t be here today without all her help.
Describe the process of launching Urban Tots?
My son was about 6 months old and I was at a critical point where my savings account was depleted when I started taking the 1st practical steps towards establishing the business. I signed up for a business license, designed a website and registered a domain, created email, Facebook and Instagram accounts, contacted different product suppliers along with the other necessary elements you need to take at the start.
My start-up costs were minimum since I did everything on my own. All I needed was a laptop and time.
The beginning was definitely not easy because every penny made had to be invested back in the business. It took me nearly six months to claim my 1st ‘pay-check’. I was already close to giving up on the idea and closing the business but every time I had those thoughts, there was a little boost in sales again. It was like a sign for me not to give up, and I never did.
It helped to launch the business faster because I immediately started advertising on Facebook, and Instagram, and that is still the main way we promote the store to the new customers.
Since launch, what has worked best to attract and retain customers?
Urban Tots has a very cute collection of baby girl rompers as well as fun and catchy collections of baby bodysuits. I think this is the reason we catch customer’s attention initially. In general, I truly believe that as long as you’re doing your business honestly, treat your customers right and have a little fun along the way, the customers will always return to you, and will bring their friends as well. It doesn’t matter how big of sales you have or what your strategies might be if the customer isn’t happy at the end of it.
With regards to business growth, how have things changed from a digital, revenue, customer and sales perspective?
After the initial start-up period, the sales have been quite steady for Urban Tots with 10% growth every year. Since the pandemic where people have been forced to shop more online, our sales have peaked.
Below if a graph for sales over time:
With regards to managing change during a crisis (e.g. Covid19), what are your biggest learnings and advice to others.
The best advice I could give for any business owner would be;
- You should never put all your eggs in one basket. For example, have a variety of products and services, several different vendors and suppliers, and a few part-time employees rather than one full-time.
- Have a back-up plan for everything, even a basic one. By doing so, in the instance when falls through or there is a major change (such as a pandemic), then you've prepared and you have a plan to fall back on.
- Stay flexible. As business owners we need to remind ourselves that change is inevitable, and changes can be big and small. It is just a question of ‘when?’. So by planning for change, and being prepared to adjust your business accordingly, you’ll always be 'ready' and in turn the outcomes will likely be more positive than if you hadn't.
How is the business doing today and what does the future look like?
With more and more people choosing to shop online, it’s a great time to own an online business so we aren’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon! Currently we’re in the process of hiring a fulfillment company to take over the dispatching of customer orders so we can offer faster shipping times and focus on expanding the business. My desire is for the business to remain fairly small in size mainly as this means we can continue to offer a personal experience to each customer which I believe is really important.
What’s been the biggest learning experience since starting your own brand?
The biggest lessons I have learnt so far is; your business doesn’t have to be ‘one-of-a-kind’ concept, nor do the products have to be unique and not able to be found anywhere else. As mentioned earlier, as long as you’re doing your business honestly, treating your customers right and have a little fun along the way, the customers will always return to you, and will bring their friends as well.
What are your top 3 tips on how to setup an Ecom store for success?
1) Be ready to work long hours with no pay, especially at the beginning. It is common for new businesses to be operating in the negative for the first 6-24 months. The great thing with Ecommerce is that you might get away with close to 0 expenses when you do everything yourself at first but if you desire to take bigger steps and faster, then you will also need to be willing to invest in the business (promoting being one of the biggest expenses).
2) Stay behind your words, purpose and your product. If you don’t believe in your product, neither will the customers. Be ready to be flexible, and listen to your customers. If they are not happy, then adjust your product or service accordingly.
3) Surround yourself with a great team. You won’t be able to do everything yourself so hiring professionals to help you where you might be lacking yourself, is absolutely crucial.
What are some of your favorite online business tools you use to run Urban Tots?
Shopify, Google analytics, Facebook Ads, Canva, Adobe Spark, Splice, Quickbooks.
|Email Marketing||Mailchimp, Spently|
|Shipping||Shopify shipping (USPS, Fedex, UPS), Shippo|
|Payments||PayPal, Shopify Payments|
|Advertising||Facebook Ads Manager|
|Social Media Tools||Later|
|Design||Preview, Canva, Adobe Spark|
|Marketing||Facebook, Instagram Ads|
See what ecommerce tools other founders are using.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts or other educational resources?
I actually get all my ‘educational’ videos from YouTube. I find for me video's the best way to learn so I gravitate there for my learning.
Who have been the most influential people for you during this business journey?
My kids have influenced me the most. They are the reason I do this.
Any other advice you’d like to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't — you're right.” (Henry Ford)
Believe in yourself and in your ideas and great things can happen. Also, don’t be afraid to share your failures because problems always find a solution when said out loud 😉