This week we're speaking to Emily Neese. Emily founded Bubbles and Joy with her husband Tyler mid-pandemic. Bubbles and Joy is the bathtime box that comes with a big helping of fun. Got a toddler that isn't enjoying bath time anymore or are sick of bath time toy mould, Bubbles and Joy have got you covered. Shop Bubbles and Joy here and follow them on Instagram.
GRASP: What inspired you to start Bubbles and Joy? How did you turn that inspiration into action, was there a first step or conversation that got things moving?
Emily: Well, my husband and I always knew that we wanted to start a company together at some point. Then during the pandemic - a great time to start a business, right? - we had the idea to start a kids bath time subscription box.
The idea really came from our frustration as parents always throwing away gross, mouldy toys. We knew there had to be better, more sustainable bath toys on the market that were safe and would last.
We also knew that bath time was often like pulling teeth. So, we began to think about how the experience could be improved - easier for parents and fun for kids. A subscription model seemed like the perfect solution. Everyone loves getting mail, and a new collection of products and toys each month would be exciting for kids. It would ensure that parents had everything they needed, and also ensure that kids would get excited about bath time.
After that, the first step was finding some brands that we thought would be a good fit - met our criteria of being clean, safe, and mould-free - and aligned with our values. When we started reaching out to brands to see if they would work with us, the reception was super positive.
Honestly, we were a little surprised since this was just an idea we hatched at our kitchen table. But all of the brands loved the concept and I think getting such a positive reaction really solidified it for us and we decided to go for it.
GRASP: What makes a great bathtime for kids of any age? Any advice for encouraging kids who are reluctant bathers (we had some of our own ideas here)?
Emily: I think the key to a great bath time is fun and independence. Play some music, let them choose what they want to do and play with. Make it a fun environment, and while it may sound cheesy, a place that's safe and a retreat for them.
For reluctant bathers, just make it fun. Allow them to have some ownership in bath time. Have a couple of options of bubble bath or bath bombs and let them pick one they want to use. The same goes for toys or activities, like bath books or clings for the tub wall. Let them choose what they want to play with.
We've always found that when kids have some say in bath time, they're much more bought-in and more likely to enjoy it.
GRASP: What do you look for in a great bath toy when you're assembling your boxes? Are there particular concerns parents have that you're on the lookout for when you're picking your items?
Emily: I look for a variety of things when selecting toys for our boxes. It needs to be made from all-natural materials and be safe for kids. I also look for toys that are mould-free - so, this means they are either hermetically sealed or easily come apart to drain, air dry, or go in the dishwasher. I also look for unique toys - something kids and parents likely haven't seen before.
But most importantly, it has to be fun. We always say our bottom line is fun, because when bath time is fun, there is less resistance. Happy kids, happy parents - everyone is winning.
GRASP: For some people it's just about getting clean, but there's a ritual of bathing for some people that goes beyond that. What do you think makes bath time so special for adults and kids alike?
Emily: That's a great question. There is the utility of bathing, and of course that's important. But I think a lot of people also associate bath time with relaxation and self-care because it can be soothing and a chance to reset.
Warm water, some time to yourself. Kids need that too. We've found that bath time really is the perfect reset for our kids when moods are poor or after a long day at school. We turn on some music for them, let them pick a bath bomb or bubble bath and choose the toys or activities they want to play with. We usually have to pry them out of the tub, and we hear the same thing from a lot of our customers.
GRASP: As a parent and small business owner, how do you juggle your focus on what are both hugely absorbing parts of life? What do you hope your kids see in your work that inspires them?
Emily: As far as what I hope my kids see in my work that inspires them, my kids help a lot with the business. They pack orders, they help drop shipments off on the loading dock at the post office, and of course, they're our in-house quality control team testing all of the toys and products.
They know how much work I put into Bubbles & Joy every day because they're there with me helping. My husband and I decided to go on this crazy adventure because we had an idea that we believe in. We did it because we thought it could benefit other families and because we wanted to build something for our family. I hope that inspires our kids to do the same. Whatever it is they choose to pursue, I hope the experience has helped them realise what's possible with a little hard work and commitment.