Becoming a Parental
In all of the obvious ways, becoming a parent changed my life. Priorities shifted, habits changed, and most importantly, my heart grew. What I didn’t expect was how parenting would also send me down a whole new career path. I knew I’d have years ahead of me of building toys and play sets, but I found myself also building something else — a new business.
As early as six months in to my son’s life, I was already crawling through the attic and storing away some of the baby gear my wife and I had seemingly just bought; and after one year, the minimal storage space in our humble home was becoming scarce. So much of the equipment, gear, toys, and items we bought or were gifted quickly became obsolete. The 4Moms Mamaroo that our son immediately loved was irrelevant once he started crawling and wanted to move rather than just sit. Same thing with the Graco swing set. I found myself wondering why we bought some of these things to begin with, and what were we going to do with all this stuff moving forward? It wasn’t that I didn’t like the products — for a short time my kid loved them — but I just wish I didn’t own them. After one year, our wallets were lighter and space was running out. I wanted to keep these things for baby #2 and because they were expensive, but there had to be a more efficient and beneficial solution rather than letting them collect dust. Luckily — as many young parents discover — we had several friends who were starting their families as well, so we were able to loan some of our favorite gear, but we didn’t know enough people to get rid of most of the stuff clogging up our home. It was this experience that gave me an idea for a new service.
At first I searched the Internet for something that existed already. I wanted to rent out the baby gear I owned. Get rid of it for a year or so, make a little money, and still get it back to use and enjoy when the next addition to our family comes along. In return, I also hoped I could then rent some age 1 appropriate gear rather than buying more and more stuff. To my surprise, nothing like this existed. Sure, there were companies that rented strollers, cribs, car seats, etc. that they had stocked up in warehouses, but there was no place where parents could rent their personally owned baby equipment to other parents — like an AirBnB for baby gear. I was disappointed this wasn’t a thing because I wanted to use a service like this, so since it didn’t exist I thought, “why not make it myself?” This is how Parentals was born.
I’m not a programmer, coder, or designer, nor have I ever worked in baby-focused retail —in fact, I’ve spent 12 years working in video production and new media — but I now find myself a little over a month in to starting up an online rental marketplace. I’m collaborating, leading and leaning on the expertise of a designer and web developer who see the potential in Parentals just as much as I do. Am I a little over my head? Sure, but I’m a creator, and I’ve never believed more strongly in something than I believe in Parentals, because I’ve personally experienced the need for it. The developmental road ahead is long, but it already may be the most organic and natural evolution of ideation to implementation that I’ve ever experienced, and that only further solidifies my confidence and deep personal belief in it. As a father, I want the best for my son, which is more than just surrounding him with safe, fun baby gear, but also raising him in a comfortable home while being financially responsible. Parentals will allow me to do that, saving money and space — something we could all use more of — and I look forward to sharing it with fellow parents when we launch this summer.
Darren (Founder, Parentals)
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