Annie Lin is harnessing her outside-the-box idea to build personalized gifts for new moms.
By Susan Johnston Taylor, Photos courtesy of Amy Jayne Photography and Annie Lin
Born in Houston and educated at the prestigious Parsons School of Design, where she studied design and management with a focus on graphic design, Annie Lin lived in New York City for eight years. For three of those years, she was the creative director of Aira, a women’s contemporary fashion line she ran with her sister. In 2013, at age 28, she moved to Austin to live closer to her sister, who was, at the time, pregnant with Lin’s niece, and to escape the frigid Northeast winters.
That same year, she decided to focus on designing for children.
“I took the skill set that I learned over the years and my background in graphics and illustration and learned how to make baby toys and things like that,” she says.
A friend in New York had founded BarkBox, the popular subscription service for dog treats and toys, so Lin decided to apply a similar subscription model to her startup, which targets people buying gifts for new moms, when she created A Little Bundle.
“They received four to five products of clothing items, toys and something for themselves,” Lin says of the items she originally offered new moms who subscribed to A Little Bundle.
But, as Lin discovered, every mom is so different. “You can’t always please every mom,” she says.
In 2016, when Lin was pregnant with her first daughter, she pivoted the business strategy of A Little Bundle away from the subscription- box model, instead, giving customers the ability to build their own bundles based on the preferences of the recipient.
Lin says her most popular products include the A Little Bundle onesies and T- shirts, the Mama Love tees and the Maileg stuffed animals.
“I felt like it was so fun for me to curate the bundles, so how much fun would it be for you to curate for your sister or your friend?” she says.
Lin says she sells more than 500 bundles a month, including wholesale bundles (partnerships with companies that provide gifts for their clients and colleagues) and direct-to-consumer bundles. She also still curates bundles of products for customers who aren’t sure what to get a new mom.
Also in 2016, Lin launched a consulting business called Unicorn & Rainbows so she could spend more time at home with her daughter. “The concept came from being able to consult with [consumer]brands such as Ring and JJ Rabbit] on how to make their brand speak to the mom community on social media through branding and connecting with influencers,” she says of Unicorn & Rainbows.
Lin notes she grew A Little Bundle mainly through her Instagram and social-media following and interaction, so Unicorn & Rainbows acts as an outlet that allows her to share her social-media skills and strategy with other baby brands.
Although A Little Bundle’s popularity with young, design-conscious moms has indeed caught the eye of investors, Lin has turned down offers of outside investment five times.
“I’m pretty glad I did,” she says of the decision, “just because I’m able to take [the company]as my baby and…keep it with the voice that I want it to have.”
Lin recently gave birth to her second daughter and relaunched the website for A Little Bundle (alittlebundle.com). Balancing motherhood and two businesses comes with its own unique set of challenges, but Lin is certainly up for it.
“I think it’s really exciting that I get the opportunity to evolve my life into motherhood,” she says, “and still be able to evolve my creative passions.”