An inside look at the inspiring relationship between Bravado Designs and Baby Buggy
We at Bravado Designs are so proud of the work we've done with Baby Buggy to date. We had a wonderful conversation with Baby Buggy's Executive Director Katherine Snider who gave us a closer look into the work Baby Buggy is doing in communities across America.
How long have you been the Executive Director of Baby Buggy?
I started at Baby Buggy as Deputy Director in September 2008 and became Executive Director five months later when Claudia Fleming decided to leave the organization to be a full-time mom for her twin babies. I was so grateful to have the time to learn the ropes with Claudia and she continues to serve on our board!
What inspired you to take on the position of Executive Director?
I was working for the Rockefeller Foundation in 2008. It was a fantastic job that allowed me to work on amazing projects and meet some of my heroes like Kofi Annan and Sandra Day but I had an epiphany on a trip to Uganda. I was touring the slums of Kampala and I couldn't stop focusing on the children of the slums. We were supposed to be learning about plumbing, road building and other infrastructure issues but I was so distracted by the kids I was meeting. I wanted to know why they weren't in school, when they had their last meal...It was at that moment that I realized, I needed to focus my work on the area of child poverty. And while I love Africa, I was heart-broken every time I had to leave my little boys at home in NYC. For all of these reasons, Baby Buggy was a perfect fit for me. I had been a donor to the organization since my oldest son, Tobey, was born in 2008. I loved the fact that I could donate the items that he was outgrowing and get them into the hands of a family in need. At the time, I didn't realize that the child poverty rate in America rival those of the third world. Sadly, 1 in 4 American child lives below the poverty line.
The partnership between Bravado Designs and Baby Buggy has been a long and deeply committed one. There have been over $800,000 worth of nursing bras and tanks donated. How are these distributed and what has the reaction been from the families you serve?
We are so grateful for Bravado Designs care and support. Your nursing bras and tanks are distributed through Baby Buggy's biggest recipient program, Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). NFP is an incredible early intervention anti-poverty program that pairs poor first-time moms with visiting nurses from the 20th week of pregnancy until their children turns two. The program has demonstrated amazing results like better maternal health and employment, lower rates of child abuse and neglect, and better child school readiness versus control groups. A key component of the curriculum is breastfeeding, but it can be a struggle for the nurses to encourage their clients. Many are victims of sexual abuse, grew up without mothers themselves and/or come from cultures where breastfeeding is not so readily accepted. Thankfully, the nurses have had great success in using the beautiful Bravado nursing bras and tanks as an incentive for their clients. The impact has been tremendous. Not only have the bras made breastfeeding easier and more appealing to the moms, but the donations also show them that brands like Bravado Designs and Baby Buggy are rooting for them to succeed. To a former foster care child who has never experienced love, that is a very powerful thing.
You have led Baby Buggy through amazing growth and changes, what would you say is the most significant advance or change during your tenure?
I started in September 2008 as the economy was bottoming out. We knew that the need for Baby Buggy donations was going to grow, while donations to Baby Buggy might drop. In fact, we quickly saw a drop in excess inventory as companies started to produce less. We realized that we had to use our donations more strategically. We started investing more in early intervention programs like Nurse-Family Partnership and Early Head Start. We started investing in Fatherhood programs as we knew that father-absence is one of the biggest poverty traps in the America. We started to use donations as incentives to help parents meet goals like breastfeeding, opening savings accounts or improving credit scores.
Tell us a bit about the twelve markets that Baby Buggy serves - how were they chosen and how do families get connected with Baby Buggy in these cities?
People in New York City and Los Angeles can donate their gently used items for distribution by visiting the Baby Buggy website: http://babybuggy.org/how-to-help/give-gear/. As of right now, we only donate new product in our other cities, including: Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, and Chicago. However, people can support this work by making a donation online and earmarking it for specific cities. These donations help us purchase items like diapers and cribs at wholesale.
How can individuals continue to support Baby Buggy moving forward?
For one, moms can feel good about purchasing Bravado Designs products as they know they are purchasing from a company that supports Baby Buggy families. And there are a whole host of other ways that people can support our work: ask for donations to Baby Buggy in lieu of birthday party gifts, knit blankets for our families, send us a coat for a child in need... no gift is too small. A little girl came into our warehouse this week with her tooth fairy money. Our team was brought to tears.