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Lifestyle, Mama Boss, Social Media, Travel

#TRAVEL: Courtney Adamo Takes Her Squad Around The World

November 6, 2015
Courtney Adamo and her four kids

There is a lot of talk about authenticity out there and being true to your voice and your beliefs on social media. There is also a lot of judgment going around regarding the how and why people are utilizing Instagram. Courtney Adamo is one of the most authentic voices on Instagram and has been such a supporter of smaller brands through the Babyccino Kids site she co-founded with her long time mama friends, Emilie and Esther. She gave us a peek into not only her career, but also the yearlong trip she’s currently taking with her family. The sweet photos on her feed have us counting our pennies to whisk our own families off on a life changing adventure; where we can focus on learning together, experience life, and appreciate each other. How can there be so much controversy over her beautiful pictures promoting a positive family experience? Haters gonna hate, but we can’t get enough!!   Courtney Adamo takes her squad around the world and we’re following along.

 

How did the Babyccino brand get started?

I met Esther and Emilie in London in 2005 shortly after our first babies were born, and we very quickly bonded over new motherhood and the questions/concerns/gripes/pleasures that come with it. We used to meet in cafes and talk about babies and newfound products we loved, recipes we made and enjoyed, activities we had discovered, and other interesting parenting topics, etc. Two years later, Emilie moved to Paris and Esther moved to Amsterdam. We started the Babyccino Kids blog as a way to stay in touch with each other and continue to share our discoveries as new mothers. This was back in 2007 when blogging was only beginning to become a trend – in fact most people didn’t even know what a blog was when we shared what we were doing.

Gradually, the blog started gaining interest and our blog grew and grew.

In 2010, three years after starting our blog, we launched our shopping portal — a curated directory of stylish, independent children’s shops.  We realized we were putting a lot of time into our blog and not making very much money from it, so we needed to figure out a way to turn it into a profitable business. We also wanted to provide a bigger platform for shops to advertise and grow their own businesses, and to provide a directory for our readers so they could find the smaller, independent brands that are difficult to find in bigger search engines like Google. The shopping portal met all of these different needs. We launched the shopping portal with 100 shops and now we have around 400.  It’s a curated selection so we don’t accept everyone who is interested; we only accept a few new brands here and there.

The most recent addition to our business is our ShopUp event.  Three years ago we started to host live shopping events hosted by Babyccino Kids. These ShopUp events give on-line shops a chance to set up a booth, and sell their wares in the flesh. We’ve hosted events in London and NYC, and we hope to bring the event to LA in 2016.

 

Courtney Adamo and her kids eating ice cream

 

Do you have any sort of rules for selecting brands? How do you find new brands?  With the shops, we look at them and make a combined decision. We look at the products they sell, the quality, the design, and the functionality of the website. It’s mostly a gut feeling. We don’t search for brands to work with, we really just respond to those who are reaching out to us. We have so many inquires, it’s a lot to keep up with at this point.

For me personally to work with a brand they have to be doing something I believe in and be authentic. It has to be something I would naturally buy or support without being paid to do so.

For me personally to work with a brand they have to be doing something I believe in and be authentic. It has to be something I would naturally buy or support without being paid to do so.

 

How do you utilize Instagram to support your business? 

It’s tricky because my feed is quite personal, but in the end it does benefit the Babyccino brand as a marketing tool. I myself prefer browsing Instagram to reading blogs because it is quick and visual and you can decide whether to dig further and click over to a site to read more. I also like seeing a gimpse of the people behind the brand, and I suppose our readers also like to see a personal glimpse our lives. In the beginning we hardly ever referred to our kids by their names or posted photos of our children, but people responded so well to it, so we started making it a bit more personal.

 

Have you made any life changing connections personal or professional through Instagram?

I have several really good friends and people I have met though Instagram. One family in Portugal have become really close friends of ours as a result of IG. She was a follower, we started chatting over email, and she invited us to come to Portugal to stay in her home. For a while, we thought it would be crazy to fly to Portugal to stay with a family we had never met before, but after a while we decided to do it. Because why not?! We went last April and it was really lovely, so much fun, and now we’re really good friends. That’s just one of many things that make me so thankful for this community. I’ve met so many really lovely people I would never have had contact with otherwise. And there’s so many other inspiring people I would still love to meet!

Courtney Adamo

 

How is it working with your partners? How do you divide and conquer?

Most of the workload is divided between Esther (in Amsterdam) and myself.  We spend a lot of time on Skype with each other, making decisions and plans for the weeks and months ahead. Sometimes we just keep Skype on while we’re both working and there will be long periods where we don’t even talk to each other, but we’re there just in case we have questions or need a second opinion. (This was obviously easier when I was in London and we were on a similar time zone.) We also must send about a hundred emails a day to each other! Additionally, we meet up a lot in our respective cities. It’s a pretty great job when you have to go to Amsterdam or Paris for work meetings!

I’m so thankful to have a business partner who shares a similar work ethic and devotion to our business. A lot of times when things go sour with partners, it’s because you do not have the same work ethic or want the same things, and we’re very lucky that we do have that. It’s not very often that Esther and I disagree and I never feel that one of us works more than other.  We’re like sisters. We each have 4 children; we parent in the same way, we share similar views about life and business, etc. I suppose our business is in tune, because we have the same values. It also helps that we have added a couple other women to our team to help with the shopping portal and admin of our business. We have a pretty great team and we are very proud of how far our little business has come.

Courtney Adamo and her daughter holding hands

 

How did the idea behind this year of travel come about?

I’ve always wanted to do this ever since I was a child. Growing up, there was a family living next door to my grandparents who took a year out and travelled around the world for a year. It was a bold move for a family in small town America, and I remember being so intrigued why they would do something like that. When they returned, they came back so changed, telling stories and showing us photos from their trips, friendship bracelets they’d made, etc.  They talked in way that exuded a sense of worldly understanding and adventure; they were really smart had truly seen the world. Most importantly, they were really close as a family. They seemed so enriched by the experience. It shaped them as a family and the time they got to spend together was what they really gained. It was less about traveling the world and more about pushing pause and taking a year to really enjoy each other.

It was less about traveling the world and more about pushing pause and taking a year to really enjoy each other.

What’s been the best part of your trip so far for your kids and for you? It’s been so great to spend so much time (nearly every minute!) together as a family, and to be able to be able to slow down the pace of our lives so that we are able to focus, listen and be more present with one another. Of course this has also brought challenges as well. It’s not always easy to spend every single moment of your day with your children and to try to homeschool them as well. There are moments where the kids test your patience and you wish you could send them off to school for a few hours and give yourself a bit of a break. But we are slowly finding our rhythm and learning what works and what doesn’t. I suppose this has also been a big joy, to really tune into each of our children and understand what their individual needs and interests are, and to be able to focus on these things.

Travel wise, we’ve had some amazing adventures so far. We really enjoyed our time in the small beach town of Trancoso in Brazil. It was the perfect place to slow down and discover the local traditions, foods, language, etc.

…..this has also been a big joy, to really tune into each of our children and understand what their individual needs and interests are, and to be able to focus on these things.

Courtney Adamo and her kids in the park

 

How did you prepare for homeschooling your children? How’s it going? What is the educational value you see in these really life situations/traveling?

It took a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve always been an advocate of a loose schedule and not the type to obsess too much about education and rules.  We were already of the mind set that learning by doing is what’s important, not passing a test or getting a perfect grade, so this type of education really plays into that. We’re able to be flexible and be inspired by what’s around us and what the kids are interested in. In the desert in California we learned about the rock formations, how they were made, and the animals that lived in the environment. That’s the enormous benefit to learning while you travel, you can be flexible and not have to just follow the books. If your kids take an interest in something like lizards you can take that and use it, make it a math lesson. Where they may have been so much less engaged in the math classroom, if you can incorporate things they are interested in, you have their attention. I think anytime a child is interested, they learn so much more easily.

 

How did you plan for such a long trip with your family? 

We spent nearly 6 months planning for this trip. We started out by narrowing down the destinations and then purchasing an around-the-world ticket. It helped immensely to know where we were going and to have those decisions out of the way. We decided to spend the year in sunny, warm climates because we love the sun, but also because it would make it easier to pack for the year, without having to worry about cold weather clothes and coats, etc. Packing was pretty easy in the end. I packed shorts and tees for the boys, along with one hoodie and a waterproof outer layer. And swimsuits of course! For the girls, I just packed a lot of summery dresses, sandals and a couple cardigans for cooler weather. Each of the children has a very small suitcase, which they can wheel through airports on their own. Michael and I also have one suitcase, so it keeps all of our stuff organized. Because we sold our house and sold a lot of our furniture and general stuff, we had already narrowed down our belongings before the packing began. I suppose it all happened gradually, so that by the time we were ready to leave London and start our adventure, we were organized and ready. In terms of planning our accommodation, we spent a lot of time talking with friends who have traveled to similar places and getting personal recommendations. We’ve probably booked about 50% of the places we’ll need this year – the rest still need to be booked!! Hopefully it will all fall into place over the year.

Courtney Adamo and her kids walking on the beach

 

We love seeing your family on Instagram. What is your view on kids in social media? Does it ever feel weird that people you’ve never met feel like they know you?

When I have a real life encounter with people from social media, I actually find that really reassuring and encouraging. When I’m sitting on my couch at home, looking at my phone, it can sometimes feel strange that there are random people viewing my photos and commenting on them. But then, when you have a real life encounter with someone, and they are really lovely and like-minded, it reminds you of all the good people who are inspired by what I’m doing and who share interesting feedback and comments.

I started Instagram when I thought it was just for sharing photos with my family, and of course it has turned into something much different than that. There are moments now where I question why I do it (I’m sure lots of people feel the same), but then I’m reminded how nice it is to connect with other women and families from around the world. Being able to share photos with my family is still a bonus!

…when you have a real life encounter with someone, and they are really lovely and like-minded, it reminds you of all the good people who are inspired by what I’m doing and who share interesting feedback and comments.

 

What do you wish you knew before you started your business?

Because our business has grown gradually and organically over the last eight years, I would never have known how much work it would eventually require from me, or that it would become a full-time job for me and my business partners. I might not have jumped on board had I known, so I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t!

 

What advice would you give to another mama looking to start a business with a friend? 

To make sure you have really good communication between you, that you can speak directly and openly with one another and that you understand from the onset what your roles and contributions will be so that expectations are always met.  Oh and it’s good to have a similar work ethic to make sure the working relationship is successful.

To make sure you have really good communication between you, that you can speak directly and openly with one another and that you understand from the onset what your roles and contributions will be so that expectations are always met.

 

+What are 3 things that have attributed to your success?

1. Hard work
2 .Business partners who have been supportive and encouraging (and who make working fun!)
3. Being innovative and receptive to change. Our company has grown because we are constantly thinking about how to differentiate from other similar businesses and how to meet the growing demands from our readers and shops.

 

You can learn more about Courtney on her heymama profile here, follow her travels on Instagram here, and Babyccino Kids here.

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