Generating an idea and building something of your own is challenging but when that beautiful idea takes a perfect shape everything feels worthwhile. In today’s story, we want you to meet Amber Thibaut, the founder of Coco Moon Hawaiʻi. Her journey as an entrepreneur began shortly after she became a mother. Observing an opportunity in the market for beautifully designed, premium quality baby products that authentically represented her island lifestyle motivated her desire to build a career that offered both independence and flexibility, availing the freedom to be there for her children while pursuing her entrepreneurial journey.
These two factors majorly inspired her to create a business that combined her love for her home of Hawaiʻi, creativity, and desire to provide high-quality, locally-inspired products for families all over the world.
Generating the idea
Amber shared that she got the idea for Coco Moon Hawaiʻi when her son was about six weeks old. At the time, she would often use her favourite, bright pink pareu, or sarong (a sarong is a long piece of fabric that is often wrapped around the waist and is common accessory found throughout Polynesia) instead of a baby blanket. Late one night while nursing her son, she found herself wondering why she repeatedly reached for the pareu instead of one of the many baby blankets around the house.
She realized that it was because of all the baby blankets, none represented her family’s island way of life. She longed for a baby blanket that was connected to the Hawaiʻi she loved, where a sense of community, beautiful arts and traditions, and devotion to ʻohana (family) are woven into all the things they do. In essence, Coco Moon was born that night.
The vision behind Coco Moon Hawaiʻi
The vision behind Coco Moon Hawaiʻi is to create a brand that celebrates the spirit of Hawaiʻi through baby products that are thoughtfully designed, of hand-me-down quality, and buttery soft so as to be gentle on baby’s sensitive skin. Aimed to capture the essence of the islands while prioritizing authenticity and quality in everything they do.
Initial challenges and overcoming them
When Amber embarked on this journey, she initially thought of it as a hobby and something to occupy her busy, creative mind during nap times. But shortly after launching the first round of muslin swaddle blankets, she realized that it was something with a lot of potential. At that point, her primary challenges were believing in herself and finding the time to dedicate to the business.
She also had two little ones at home and wanted to cherish that time with them. Balancing the demands of parenthood with the ambition to build something meaningful was definitely a challenge, as it continues to be today. Outwardly, other challenges included getting known by more and more people, while being on a tight, bootstrapped budget.
Identifying and establishing a market niche
Amber explains “We identified market niche by recognizing the demand for high-quality, Hawaiʻi-inspired baby products that resonated with both locals and visitors. Our focus on authentic, hand-drawn, culturally significant designs has helped us stand out and build a loyal customer base.”
They are a lifestyle brand that offers a range of baby and family products inspired by the beauty of Hawaiʻi. Their signature offerings include muslin swaddle blankets, bamboo pajamas, and bamboo children’s clothing, all featuring vibrant, one-of-a-kind designs.
A significant milestone for Coco Moon Hawaiʻi was when their products gained recognition beyond Hawaiʻi and they began working with a distributor in Japan. Another personal achievement was being named the Consumer-Packaged Goods Entrepreneur of the Year by the Hawaiʻi Venture Capital Association.
Managing the work-life balance
Balancing personal life and the demands of growing a business is an ongoing juggling act of time and priorities. It is a dynamic dance where family life occasionally takes the spotlight and the business takes centre stage. Amber approaches this challenge week by week, meticulously prioritizing tasks and focusing on what matters the most. On some days, it is impossible to check off everything on her to-do list, but she still considers it a win as long as her kids are happy and she has tackled the most important tasks.
Sometimes, the top priority is leaving work early to attend her son’s basketball game, and that is a reminder of why she started Coco Moon – to have the freedom to be there for her family. Building a strong team and fostering a culture of discipline and accountability have allowed her the flexibility to manage working hours effectively, aligning with the initial motivation for starting this journey.
Strategies to scaling
Scaling their business involved strategic partnerships with retailers and local artists, expanding the product line beyond baby blankets to include bamboo babies’ and children’s clothing. All while working to build a strong community around our brand. They also focused on maintaining the quality and authenticity of the products as the company grew so that the customers trusted them to deliver the best products for their growing families.
Future plans include further expanding product offerings, increasing presence in international markets, and continuing to give back to the community. To date, they have donated over $50,000 to non-profits doing powerful work in their community, including the NICU and new Children’s Cancer Center at the Kapi’olani Medical Center, as well as organizations supporting Maui fire relief. Aiming to become a leading global brand for Hawaiʻi-inspired family products and commitment to giving back.
Marketing the business
They utilize a multi-faceted approach to marketing, including social media, influencer partnerships, collaborations with local artists, and partnerships with well-known retailers. Prioritizing the storytelling method to connect with the audience on a deeper level and truly share the spirit of Hawai’i.
Keys to success
In Amber’s opinion, the keys to success are having a clear vision, discipline of execution, adaptability to change, continuous learning, and building strong relationships with customers, suppliers, and partners.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is: “Take that first step and get started. Self-doubt often becomes the biggest obstacle, holding us back from pursuing our ideas. Understand that failures are inevitable on the entrepreneurial path, but they are also opportunities for growth and refinement. Embrace the journey of continuous improvement, finding joy in the process. This resilience is what allows you to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and ultimately reap the rewards of your efforts.”