When Cecilia Pearson realized there was a gap in the market regarding resources and connections for new and expectant moms, she knew she had to do something about it. A Birmingham-area native, Cecilia — who holds an undergraduate degree in marketing and a graduate degree in counseling psychology — says her passion is connecting people to information and resources. With that knowledge and drive in hand, she began Babypalooza, a magazine and online community for new and expectant mothers. Cecilia, dubbed the “Baby Lady” due to her vast knowledge and expertise, shares what inspires her, how Babypalooza has evolved over the years and what she does in her free time.
Can you give us a quick overview of what Babypalooza is and what it offers?
Babypalooza is a social community and magazine for first-time expectant and new parents. We make it easy for moms to find the resources and information they need — from pregnancy through preschool. We do this through virtual and hybrid events, educational content and online courses. The digital community is just a few months old, but it is growing quickly.
People are always surprised to find out that I’m the “Baby Lady,” even though I’m single with no children. I’ve been dubbed the Baby Lady because I’ve spent the last 15 years building a community to equip and support new and expectant parents. Even my friends — who know I don’t have children — will call me for advice when they are expecting because I’ve absorbed so much information over the years.
What inspired you to start Babypalooza?
I’d worked for city magazines and enjoyed the service they provided, but I saw that there was nothing for expecting and new moms. That time is such a huge life transition, and I knew that there needed to be a resource just for moms-to-be. You don’t know what you don’t know, especially as a first-time mom. I thought about all of the great retailers and services out there that moms may not know about, and I wanted to be the one to tell them. There were magazines for parents with school-aged children, but nothing for pregnancy and new moms.
How have you seen Babypalooza grow?
A year after the magazine launched, we started doing baby expos so moms could meet face-to-face with resources. This made the magazine come to life. The events grew in popularity, with parents driving more than 100 miles to come to the one in Birmingham. In light of that, we started going to other cities and other states and eventually started a tour that would see over 45,000 moms per year.
Two years ago, I realized we were just seeing our moms once a year and then saying goodbye, so I created a community platform and app so we could stay connected to our moms and be a part of their journey from pregnancy through the child’s early years.
The latest version of the app came out the same week the COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions started. It was perfect timing to be able to provide a resource during this difficult time. Now, I feel like we know our moms so much more than we ever did when we were just doing events. I love when they post photos of their babies and let us know what’s going on.
How has Babypalooza fostered a community in Birmingham?
For the last 15 years, we have created safe spaces for moms to gather, whether that be at our large baby expos (virtual this year) or through smaller events like The Big Latch On, where we had several hundred moms come to Regions Field to advocate for breastfeeding. We also have diaper drives where moms and the community are able to support other moms in need. And now we have the Babypalooza app where moms can safely connect with each other from home.
We also have a nonprofit branch that seeks, through education, to address the high maternal and infant mortality rates in the country, specifically for minorities. Black moms are four times more likely to die due to childbirth-related issues than white moms. Studies have found that many of these issues can be addressed through advocacy, support and education. We help with that by providing informative articles and support groups, as well as funding training for Black doulas.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself from running a business?
As an entrepreneur, I have learned you have to be who you were created to be and not compare yourself or your journey to anyone else. Entrepreneurs are as different as pennies, and they all have different goals, skill sets and styles. For me, I just wake up, work hard, try to improve on the day before and trust that there will be fruit from my labor. I’ve also learned to apply that same grace to employees: to try to find and work in their strengths instead of trying to mold them into a carbon copy of me. Please note the emphasis on try!
What has been your greatest challenge, and how did you overcome that?
My greatest challenge in growing Babypalooza has been in building the right team. I previously would hire based on great resumes, but I finally learned that I needed to also hire based on personality styles that fit with me, the type of work we do and the overall company culture.
Do you have any hobbies?
Work is a hobby — I love working. But when I’m not working, I like to be outside, doing anything from golfing to hiking. I also love entertaining. I throw great theme parties!
Describe your perfect day in Birmingham.
A perfect day in Birmingham would be a Sunday in fall, enjoying coffee in the backyard while my dogs run around, and then going to brunch somewhere and sitting outside. Mimosas, music and good friends.
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What’s your best piece of advice?
Don’t be afraid or ashamed of failing. It’s not a reflection of you or your idea. In every failure, there is an opportunity to learn and change. Find out what’s not working and make corrections or be willing — in some cases — to walk away. Sometimes it’s just not a great idea; sometimes it is a great idea, but it’s the wrong time. Entrepreneurship is all about experimenting and figuring out what works.
With the exception of faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Well, those are my top three, but if I had to pick three more, they would be my pets (I have two rescue dogs), the beach (I must touch sand on a regular basis) and great dining experiences (I love a great meal and a mixed drink).
All photography provided by Cecilia Pearson.
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