Sometimes the best ideas are made of cardboard.
That’s the case with Pip and Grow and its cardboard Smitten bassinet box—co-founded by Sarasota’s Lauren Hughey and her friends Amber Kroeker and Kate Compton Barr. The trio just won a National Outstanding Retail Small Business award from SCORE, the national business mentoring nonprofit, as well as a $15,000 investment from Sam’s Club.
Pip and Grow’s “a-ha!” moment came in 2015, when Hughey, who’s a marketer for the digital innovation company atLarge, and her friends were on vacation. Kroeker, a child safety expert, had developed an idea and a prototype for an updated baby bassinet box after participating in several infant death panels and realizing how many mortalities could be prevented. She presented it to the University of Michigan and was awarded a $25,000 innovation grant. Let’s start a company, exclaimed the friends.
Cardboard baby boxes aren’t a new idea. They’ve been a staple in Finland for more than 80 years, where expectant moms receive a box from the government packed with baby clothes and accessories. The idea is that every baby should have the same healthy start in life. The box includes a mattress, so it can be used as a bed. Since then baby boxes have been universally lauded for their simple approach to safe sleep for babies ages 0-6 months.
Cardboard happens to be an ideal surface for infants, who are too young to roll or lift their heads. Since carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, it can pool in the nooks and crannies of softer surfaces like couches and bouncy seats, and that can lead to suffocation. Cardboard’s stiff consistency doesn’t allow CO2 pooling to happen. It’s also light, so parents can move the boxes and always have a safe option nearby.
Each sleep system, retailing between $60-$70, is made in the U.S. and includes a recycled, two-pound cardboard bassinet, a CertiPUR foam mattress and a 100-percent cotton sheet. The cute designs on the boxes are printed with nontoxic ink, and the boxes are built using Consumer Product Safety Commission bassinet standards and are safety-tested up to 100 pounds. They meet the guidelines set for safe sleep by the American Pediatric Society and are also recyclable. Or you can hang onto them as great toy boxes when your child gets older.
Cardboard boxes may not appeal to every new mom and dad, but they’re an eco-friendly option and they’re blissfully simple. “Parenthood is hard,” Hughey says. “We want to make it as easy as possible.”