Kathryn and Matthew Wiley and their six children are about to embark on a cross-country family road trip that also is doubling as a marketing blitz for Kathryn Wiley’s company that makes wearable cloth baby carriers and children’s clothing.
The Wileys have converted an old school bus into a recreational vehicle with beds, bathroom and kitchen, for a month-long journey. The renovated bus has been covered with images and the logo and mission statement of Rockin’ Baby.
“It’s a personal trip for our family,” Kathryn Wiley explained. “We are going to see how fast the bus goes, how the bus (performs). And then we are going to do random acts of giving.”
Rockin’ Baby’s signature product is a cloth baby carrier sling worn on the body. It allows caregivers to hold a baby close but have hands free to do other things.
Every time a sling is bought, the company gives one away to someone in need, Wiley said.
Wiley used baby slings to carry her children when they were little, buying them from a Los Angeles company. That company was put up for sale and was at risk of closing in 2011 when Wiley offered a bid of $12,000. It was accepted.
Under her leadership, the company’s growth has been steady. Last fall, venture capital firm New Richmond Ventures brought Wiley and her firm into its fold.
Wiley said Rockin’ Baby revenue for 2016 is expected to be $2.5 million to $3 million. The company recently hired a chief operating officer/chief financial officer, Jaison Wagmeister, freeing up Wiley to focus on promotions and other big-picture projects.
The Wiley children, ages 12, 11, 9, 7, 4 and 3, are excited about the road trip, she said. She and her husband, who owns and operates Gepetto Millworks, converted the bus to a recreational vehicle themselves. They are experienced renovators, having rehabbed more than a dozen homes in the Church Hill area of Richmond, she said.
Wiley said they paid $3,000 for the bus and have put about $12,000 into it to fix it up.
About the time they return from their cross-country trip, Rockin’ Baby will be moving from Shockoe Bottom into larger office space at 1 E. Broad St. in downtown Richmond. Wiley also has spent months overseeing renovation of their new office space.