At Ecocentric Mom, we love to highlight powerful Mompreneurs and Mom Bosses who are juggling it all – babies, life, and business! This month, we are featuring Liz Paik, the mastermind behind Cheengoo. If you received one of their adorable Hen Rattles in your January Mom & Baby Box, you are familiar with the beautiful, hand-crafted products that Cheengoo creates.
Cheengoo’s beautiful rattles and dolls for pets and babies are made from organically grown and sustainably harvested bamboo. They are lovingly hand crocheted by an artisan team of women in China, for whom Chengoo provides free training, flexible work hours, and fair wage. The result? A friendly working environment that doubles as a support network that allows these women to earn a fair wage while satisfying their obligations at home.
Cheengoo products are non-toxic and tested at the highest standards for safety. They are comprised of bamboo yarn, which is soft, naturally antibacterial, and non-allergenic. Even after several washes, bamboo naturally resists pests and bacteria. Interested in being your own Mom Boss? Read further to learn more about Cheengoo and how Liz got started!
Where did you first get the idea for Cheengoo?
Cheengoo began as a hobby back in 2008. I was a graphic designer by trade, and my two passions in my life at the time were animals and good design. There weren’t, in my opinion, too many well-designed commerce websites, especially with one geared to discerning pet owners. Most were overly frilly or packed to the seams with glitter and glam. I set out to create Cheengoo.com to provide a selection of high quality, upscale, and stylish pet accessories. Two years later, the hobby became a serious business and the decision was made to open a brick and mortar store. Around the same time, Cheengoo launched its own line of crocheted toys and collars, which were an instant hit amongst other similar high-end boutiques. When I became a mom, my son Oliver became both my inspiration and muse. Spending time with my son brought a desire to dramatically expand Cheengoo’s offerings to include baby products.
What has been your biggest challenge in building your business? What has brought you great joy?
Figuring out what will sell. I wish that I spent my days just designing toys, but unfortunately that is not realistic – I am trying to run a profitable business. It’s sometimes tough having to put my business hat on and having to choose only 10-12 designs out of 30 or so potential designs. It’s also tough to out what the buyers will like, as well as what will ultimately sell. Starting a business on a shoestring budget was also really tough. I am grateful for my very supportive family that has stood by me throughout my journey.
How has becoming a mom influenced the way you run your business?
It has everything to do with it. I know for a fact that if I was not a mom, I would not have been interested in the baby toy business. Being a mom has made me care more about what I generate for the market. Cheengoo’s entire collection is not only aesthetically pleasing, but safe, earth-friendly, and natural.
We’re making a difference (albeit small) to the lives of women in China. These women, mostly mothers, would not have had any other work opportunities because most factory workers are required to work full time, far away from their homes. One of the key perks for working with us is that anybody can get themselves trained for free. If they decide that they want to take the work home to be with their family, they have the flexibility to do so. They can literally earn a living at home while watching their kids do their homework. You can’t say there are many jobs like that in China right now.
What is your favorite product that you have on your site?
I seriously love designing all my toys, and I can’t really say which is my favorite. Perhaps the little giraffe rattle could be one of them, though.
What advice would you give to moms who are looking to start their own businesses?
Life is hectic! Juggling kids and business can get you burnt out very quickly. My advice is to separate family and work time as much as possible. It’s too easy to check emails and end up spending the whole evening and weekends working! I now make a point not to open emails after work hours these days. Find other similar mompreneurs in your area to share ideas and challenges. You will be surprised how much you can help one another stay afloat personally and professionally.
Be sure to check out Cheengoo’s wide array of fantastic pet and baby products!