Kate Ansari was 14 weeks pregnant with her first child when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Following her son Mclaren’s birth—and her own surgery, hormone replacement therapy, and six-month recovery period—she eventually quit her job as a FOX 45 morning show executive producer to become a full-time mom and try to lead a more natural lifestyle.
She soon recognized the need for completely natural products for young children and expectant or new mothers that were free of parabens, dyes, artificial fragrances, and preservatives. She enlisted the help of her sister Emily Derr, and, after some trial and error, Dear Baby Products was born in March of 2014.
The sisters sold a small roster of items at local farmers’ markets in Howard County, as well as online. They saw an immediate response. In particular, the farmers’ markets served as a great outlet to get to know their market directly. While scanning message boards on websites like whattoexpect.com, Ansari also noticed that many pregnant women were looking for a variety of products that weren’t available in a pregnancy-safe form.
“There are all of these do’s and don’ts with pregnancy, so we wanted to create [a product-line] where you can buy anything from our store and feel good about using it,” Ansari explains.
They also realized that the need for Dear Baby Products is not exclusive to babies and pregnant women.
“Really, the ingredients we use are perfectly fine for anybody and a lot of things can double as an adult product,” says Ansari.
For example, the company’s diaper rash treatment, also known as “bottom paste,” is great for eczema, and the baby powder moonlights as a dry shampoo.
As the demand grew, so did their busy schedules. Both sisters are getting their MBAs online—Ansari at Carnegie Mellon and Derr at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ansari, who is in remission, now has two young children and Derr has a full-time job in finance.
Juggling their careers, schoolwork, and family can be a bit challenging, especially since all their products are handmade in Ansari’s Fulton kitchen. But Ansari’s and Derr’s hard work is paying off, with Dear Baby now being sold at Whole Foods, on Etsy, and in boutiques all over the country.
And the sisters are prepared to grow and are confident about their future. “When life gives you lemons—you don’t have to settle for lemonade. You make lotion and launch a business.”