Today we’d like to introduce you to Debbie Stogel.
Debbie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
On November 18, 2014, my life changed forever. Prior to that date, I devoted my career to diversity training and anti-bias education. On that date, I was told by my employer that my time at the place where I worked for a quarter of a century…the place I called home…would come to an end. I was told I was being laid off and that my position was being eliminated. I was an unfortunate casualty of a severe round of layoffs. I had spent half of my life in a job and career in one office, in one workplace and with one company/organization…which in today’s world is completely unheard of.
My original training and background was in student affairs, higher education administration and student activities and my goal was to become a dean of students on a college campus. Back in January of 1990, while I was working as an Assistant Dean of Students on a college campus, I was presented with a wonderful and unexpected opportunity to work for a non-profit, civil rights agency, doing anti-bias and diversity training work. I have to admit that my time at this agency was truly a life-changing experience. When I began my journey, I had no idea what I was really getting into, but shortly thereafter, I decided that I wanted to spend my life trying to fight bigotry and work for justice and equality.
Forced into making a different career choice and follow a different path in 2014, I was approached by a colleague, who was also laid off at the same time, to consider the idea of starting a small business together: a baby proofing company. Baby Proofing? Who would have thought? But then I immediately went back to that place of remembering what it was like raising of my own children, two boys, who are now 22 and 15 years old, and all that I did to make our home safe for them. I put cushions on the corners of furniture and installed gates. Of course, for the gates back then, we had to climb over them. Imagine holding an infant in your arms and climbing over a gate.
So needless to say, when I got into this industry and learned that gates come with doors, you could imagine my excitement and enthusiasm. There was no more “climbing over” gates.
While my kids joke that after 22 years we still have a few of those corner cushions on certain pieces of furniture, one memory sticks out, which I now tell clients all the time. When my younger son was around two years old, he decided to climb up onto our glass coffee table as if it were a stage. While nothing happened, thankfully, I immediately swooped him away, took the glass out of the wooden frame, wrapped it in a blanket, shoved it under our sofa, put the wooden frame in our garage, and lived without a coffee table for years. It is the story I have shared with countless parents when I look at their coffee tables and the dangers they present. If I can live without that piece of furniture, so could they.
Recently, I have taken over sole ownership of Be Safe Baby Proofers, as my business partner decided to pursue other opportunities.
As a small business owner, Be Safe Baby Proofers has afforded me the opportunity to protect the lives of infants and children, so they can grow up to be happy, healthy and thriving individuals.
Has it been a smooth road?
To become an expert in the field of baby proofing and child safety, there is a tremendous amount of learning. I think initially, that was a huge challenge, but one that I overcame with a huge amount of effort and education. Baby proofers and child proofers are part of a network of professionals across the country and the world, who are members of an association called the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS). The IAFCS has taught me everything I’ve needed to know and then some. It is a network where baby proofers can ask for help, receive suggestions, and acquire training and resources.
I think the biggest challenges occurs when parents and families are desperate for you to come to their home “in the eleventh-hour” because their little one is starting to crawl and they didn’t realize baby proofing takes time. My advice to families and new parents is to plan ahead and be prepared to the best of their ability. Once your little one starts any sort of movement, it is only a matter of time before crawling and standing occurs. And it’s not like you can say “stop, go back, don’t do that, stop crawling, stop standing…” Once they start, babies propel forward quickly. My advice to parents is to plan to baby proof when their infant is 4 to 6 months old. Installing products early allows parents to get used to the gates, cabinet and drawer latches and other products that might get installed so they become second nature to use.
So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Be Safe Baby Proofers story. Tell us more about the business.
Be Safe Baby Proofers works with parents, even grandparents, of families with infants and small children as their one-stop resource for all of their baby proofing and child safety needs. I provide expert consultation, home hazard education, product recommendations, and professional installation services for families in the greater Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
The process begins with a home survey where I will walk through the home with the parents and discuss all the areas that are potentially dangerous. At this time, they can also show me their areas of concern and I can point out things that they may have missed. I will determine the best product or solution for each problem that is identified and will also take proper measurements as needed. Following the visit, I map out a plan by providing a written estimate of the products recommended, along with a detailed Room By Room Plan of everything discussed.
They can then go through the recommendations and decide whether or not they want to go with everything on the list or remove certain items and I can revise their quote. Once a decision has been made and they would like to move forward with the order, I request a written authorization and a 30% deposit. I will order any items that need to be special ordered and can schedule their installation at that time.
I am most proud of what I have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.
Something unique to my business is that I provide families with a Child Identification & Safety Kit at no additional charge. It is a booklet filled with information that can be filled in and kept up to date. There’s also space to write in important emergency phone numbers and other contacts and information. It’s a great thing to leave behind with grandparents, nannies and baby sitters, in case there’s an emergency.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see the baby proofing industry growing by leaps and bounds over the next 5-10 years. As more and more moms and dads are working out of the home, they will desperately need someone with the expertise and skill to baby proof their homes. Products are constantly changing to keep up with ever-evolving technology. New vendors are creating gates, including acrylic ones, to meet the highest baby proofing standards according to JPMA (Juvenile Protection Management Association) guidelines. I want Be Safe Baby Proofers to be in the forefront of those changes.
- The home survey inspection is $59.00 and is fully credited back with a client’s order of $400.00 or more.
- Address: 1722 Malcolm Avenue
Suite 104, Los Angeles, CA 90024
- Website: www.besafebabyproofers.com
- Phone: 310-879-5541
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/besafebabyproofers
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/besafebabyproofers
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeSafeBabyProof
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/be-safe-baby-proofers-los-angeles
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/be2997/