Axial's Growth 100 : Jennifer Clary

Jennifer Clary

CEO, The Baby Box Co.

An Everything Entrepreneur

Jennifer Clary has never been anything but entrepreneurial.

Even before she’d graduated from college in 2004, the founder of The Baby Box Co. had already set up a media company. She went on to launch several other successful ventures, including JenKev Productions, an independent film production company, and the first national vegan meal delivery service, now a part of Green Lifestyle Foods.

Jennifer is nonchalant about her success. Good business ideas are everywhere, she says— it’s just a matter of looking for them.

“I know that a lot of people today are in the tech space but there is still a need for basic products, so when you find a space for something that can really have legs, when you can make sense of it, patent it, and own the brand that you’re creating, that’s very exciting,” Jennifer says.

Her best ideas have come out of the stuff of everyday life.

An Idea is Born

The Baby Box Co., Jennifer says, got off the ground when her best friend became a mother. In the excitement of that event, she came across a BBC article about babies in Finland sleeping in government-gifted cardboard boxes. The concept— which has apparently helped Finland achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world— immediately piqued her interest. She began researching its safety, had a prototype made, tested, and internationally certified, and then patented the design.

“I put an ad for a finished box on eBay and I told my husband that if it sold in three hours, we would go ahead with the company,” Jennifer recounts. “It sold in 30 minutes, which shows that you can test an idea quite quickly and there is no point in getting too bogged down in the analysis of it, as many people think they have to when launching a new business.”

But in the crowded space of parenting-related ventures, Jennifer has also been adept at growing The Baby Box Co., not only by selling the box to top hospitals and medical institutions, but also sealing partnerships with top players in the space, including organizations like Every Mother Counts, Children International, Room to Grow, Baby2Baby, and others.

Every Baby Box user also gets a membership to the Baby Box University, which offers them unlimited access to physicians, psychologists, researchers, and educators, and a wealth of other experts and resources that have to do with parenting and childcare. The interactive, video-format Baby Box University offers is particularly important for low-income families and those from non-English speaking backgrounds, for whom reading the more traditional parenting literature available on the market could be a challenge, Jennifer says.

For 2016, she estimates Baby Box Co.’s earnings to be 4.5 times higher than those of 2015 and she’s looking forward to growing the business more. However, Jennifer’s first love is film (she graduated from Vassar with a double major in film and drama) and she’s currently producing her second live-action feature (“How to Cook Your Daughter,” the story of Jessica Hendra, who was sexually abused by her father, British actor Tony Hendra of “This is Spinal Tap” fame) and her first animated feature, “The Potters,” which delves into the special parent/child bond and even features a Baby Box in one of the scenes.

Her first feature film, “The Silent Thief,” was screened at over 25 international festivals, winning seven Best Feature awards and distribution through HBO.