I know they are in the business of selling, but whenever I walk into one of giggle’s Manhattan stores I sometimes think of them as more of a curator, because of how good they are at identifying (and, in many cases, producing) baby products that are high quality and wonderfully designed. Their 10th anniversary year coincided with a big step toward taking giggle’s standard and sensibility to a wider audience: a partnership with J.C. Penney. Such an interesting juncture in the business seemed like the perfect time to catch up with giggle founder and CEO Ali Wing, an NYC mom who happens to have marked another decade-long milestone this year, her son’s 10th birthday.
Please describe giggle’s mission and how it has evolved over the years.
Our mission—to offer a complete checklist of healthier, smarter products for new parents—is 100 percent intact 10 years after our birth. But, of course, a lot has changed in the world in the past 10 years, so we have changed too. From our paperless registry to our giggle Better Basics line, to our exciting new partnership with J.C. Penney, we keep evolving in ways that deliver on our reason for being—helping parents keep the giggle in parenthood!
Tell me about your core customer. Expectant mom? New mom? 50-50? Do you have a lot of parents of 2- and 3-year-olds? Or does interest trail off once the nursery is settled?
Our focus has always been new parents—and particularly first-time parents and the network of family and friends around each new baby. From a product perspective, that has been the focus from prenatal to about 4-year-olds. However, starting in fall 2013, we soft-launched giggleKIDS online at giggle.com. With giggleKIDS, we now offer sizes and stages for up to 7- and year-olds. So stay tuned for more on that front in 2014.
What can the uninitiated expect to find at giggle? What are the core offerings? And what are some of the surprises?
We have the best of everything for new parents. From the best choices for your nursery to your gear and your clothes, we sell the healthiest, most developmentally-oriented, innovative, and responsible offerings for new parents. As for the surpises, most consumers assume that because we offer the best of everything, we’re also more expensive. However, for products that you might also be able to find elsewhere, we guarantee the same prices as everybody else. And probably my most “surprise and delight” part of the giggle experience is when our customers share how amazed they are at the incredible value we offer on our growing collection of giggle-branded products—which today make up almost 40 percent of our products and truly represent the very best quality for the price.
I look forward to seeing the goods you and your team identify as giggle-worthy every season because not only are they high quality, but usually there is a fun and colorful design sensibility. What makes a product giggle-worthy?
We adore great design. But we also think great designs are smart designs, so we like to think that what you love when you see our giggle “picks” is the fact that great products can be as smart or good or practical as they can be beautiful.
How important is the in-person shopping experience versus shopping online? Because the store is so colorful and welcoming—and because it’s all new for a new parent—I wonder if your shoppers especially value the in-person experience, even in the age of e-shopping.
Particularly for first-time parents, the “touch and feel” aspect of an in-store environment, in addition to the personalized service, is a welcome component of the giggle experience. Needless to say, becoming a parent is a life-changing time. It’s not one of the shopping moments where you are just looking for efficiency. It’s a big deal. And we try to make it one—in all the ways that really help new parents get their feet under them. I think that’s the unique role a store plays today in a multichannel world where, for sure, the ease and efficiency of a great, integrated online store also plays a very important role for busy parents and gift-givers.
What else should readers know about shopping at giggle? How fundamental to the experience is your registry app?
Shopping at giggle is fun and easy! When we do what we do well, shopping in store should be like a breath of fresh air—a playful, happy experience that makes planning for your baby or simply enjoying your baby—an activity you love and not just one you need to get done. Tools like the registry app, the “always in stock” Bat Phone, and our white glove delivery services are designed to make the in-store experience as seamless as possible and always fun.
What’s the new partnership with J.C. Penney all about? What should consumers know?
giggleBABY is an exciting expansion for the giggle brand—one that I’m particularly proud of as we make the great giggle product design and sensibility available to more people at more price points throughout the country. giggleBABY is very much a value line from giggle, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with a great American retailer like J.C. Penney.
What’s hot right now in baby shopping? I’d love to give readers the scoop on any products that are selling like hotcakes.
I’m a personal fan of the puffer trend—now making its way to babes! From smart fabrics that are soft and shiny to warm but lightweight, there’s just so much to love in the new take on outdoor gear for babies. Of course, hot products include the 7am stroller mittens. And I don’t think there’s been a hotter product than the UppaBaby collection including the new Mesa car seat! We, of course, are also fans of our new giggleBABY character fleece collection, which was a Black Friday hit at JCP.
With nine stores in seven cities and a growing online business, what are the main responsibilities of your job right now? And after 10 years, what do you love most about your job?
2013 was a big year for giggle, with the introduction of giggleBABY for JCP shops in 567 stores nationwide. It was also a new chapter for me as I hired our first COO/President to run the daily operations, while I focus more on leading creative, designing products, and expanding giggle into new channels. For me, the love has always been, and continues to be, discovering new and innovative products and helping make new parents smile.
Your son is 10. What are the biggest joys and challenges of being a mom right now?
Wow, it all just goes so fast! With at 10-year-old at home, I already struggle with the idea that he’s becoming a little man. One moment he’s my baby boy, and the next he’s working on being an independent middle schooler and not asking for help with homework. I continue to be amazed at how I just couldn’t love someone more—and in that is the joy and the challenge of watching his growing independence.
For more giggle products and picks, visit giggle.com.
Eric Messinger is the Editor of New York Family. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.