A chat with Gemma Broekhuis form the creator of the fabulous Milestone™ Baby Cards August 14 2014
At Desmond Elephant we love supporting and sharing the story of emerging brands and mums that want to make a difference. We like a lot of parents are massive fans of the Milestone™ Baby Cards and today we get to share our catch-up with it’s inspiring founder Gemma Broekhuis.
Gemma Broekhuis (1977) lives and works in Amsterdam. She is married and has two sons – Mikkel (3) and Frey (1) and is due to have her third son any day. She started her company Milestone™ Cards in May 2012 with one product: Milestone™ Baby Cards. Today, with a small team of four, their products are available in 10 languages and are distributed to 27 countries.
How and why did you create Milestone Cards?
When my first son was born, I was so overwhelmed and amazed about the whole thing, that I must have taken 1000 pictures by the time he was 4 months old. And then one day, he rolled over. And I realized there are certain ‘firsts’ that you would like to remember even more than other moments.
But how? How would this picture stand out in my endless collection of photos? So I wrote a card, added the date and his name, and took a picture of him with it. I started doing the same when he slept through the night, crawled, ate his first solid food, etc. And it worked! I realized that those pictures had more meaning. Not just because of the image itself but also because of the extra effort – almost a little ritual – that comes with taking the picture. It’s so easy to point and shoot nowadays. It is nice to have something that makes a picture special again. I felt I was probably not the only one out there who felt this way. So I decided to make them into a product: the Milestone™ Baby Cards.
What is unique about Milestone™ Cards?
Well, they were unique to start with. There was no other product out there. That was the good part, but also the scary part. Would people get it? Would they like it? I remember doing my first trade show with a few dummy sets feeling really humble and anxious. It was like reading a poem you wrote out load and hoping people will like it. Or at least not laugh in your face.
But when my favourite store in Amsterdam immediately placed a big order, I knew I was on the right track. Shortly after, I won two innovation awards. That helped too.
The uniqueness is in the easy and fun way parents can now combine photography and text. You used to develop your pictures, put them in an album and write something next to them. But since we don’t print pictures as much anymore, this is an easy and fun way to still have that connection between a moment and capturing it. It is my belief that that is how memories are created. And to me, memories are the most precious things we have. Especially when you become a parent.
Can you briefly describe the design process?
It took me some time to decide what the set should look like. How big and what shape the cards should be, what the packaging should look like. I toyed with ideas like having little cubes or templates in the set to indicate the date. In the end, I decided it should be as simple as possible. As a new parent you should feel relieved that this product exists, not overwhelmed at yet another thing you ‘have’ to do. So: simple, fun, beautiful and easy to use. Then for the illustrations: I knew what I wanted; I just had to find it.
After a long, extensive search of all kinds of websites, magazines and blogs, I saw some work by Australian based artist Beci Orpin. I contacted her, she said yes and we worked on it through Skype and email. And wow, what luck finding her! She is amazing and so great to work with. I can’t tell you how much I love her work. I have had these illustrations around me for over two years now and you never get tired of them. Timeless yet modern, exactly what I had hoped for.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
That’s a tough one. I am practically an open book. I hardly keep anything to myself. It is something I actually have to monitor a little bit in some situations. But I guess people who don’t know me might be surprised I do not use social media like Pinterest and Instagram that much. I tend to get inspired by my life and my children instead of by images. An idea for a product comes from experiencing a need for them, not from seeing something online. To be honest, I sometimes get overwhelmed by everything there already is, so maybe this is my attempt to keep my mind a peaceful place. Also, maybe surprising, I don’t enjoy shopping that much. Lucky I only have boys.
Who would you most like to see in a picture with a Milestone™ Card?
Good question! From the very start, I had PR people and friends tell me how great it would be to have a celebrity baby with one of the cards. And yes, we did send Prince George a set. But to be honest, the thought never really interested me that much and recently I discovered why. I realized what I really love about what I am doing, is that it emphasizes that all babies are equal. They are (hopefully) all loved by their parents. They share the same big moments like smiling, rolling over, crawling for the first time.
And they are all cute! Every single one. They are our reminders that we are all the same. Prince George included. So to answer your question: I just love to see babies from every corner of the world with the cards. Because it makes us, their parents, realise we are all connected. Enter #milestonecards on Instagram and you will know exactly what I mean!
Thank you! We really enjoyed learning more about your story Gemma and greatly appreciate the time you took to share it! Good luck with the new arrival.