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Recently, I went to the Baby Show event put on by Big City Moms and Cookie Magazine in NYC. It was great seeing all the vendors and to be able to try out some free samples. One vendor really impressed me–Momma Couture diaper bags. And, I loved the fact that Rashmi is also a mompreneur. Her bags are attractive (nice, neutral colors) and not too expensive. A great combo right there! Plus, it has all the features of a soft sided cooler due to some great technology. So here's the lowdown on her and her budding venture!

Rashmi Budhram is a native Philadelphian but now a New York convert for the past decade who had a career in corporate America for over 10 years in Sales, Marketing, and Product Development. Before becoming a mom Rashmi was always looking for the ultimage handbag and her quest only became more obsessive when she had Anjali (almost 4) and Arin (almost 2). As she searched high and low for he ultimate diaper bag, ultimately this obsession and strong push (okay, scream) from her husband led to designing the first Momma Couture bag. Momma Couture launched in March 2009. The sole Momma behind this operation, Rashmi is busy working full, part and overtime on making it a success. While not busy working on new designs and toting her kids around, usually wearing a Momma Couture bag, you can find her on Twitter: Link here. And Facebook: Link here

What is unique about Momma Couture bags?

Citybag_navy_top

Momma Couture bags are insulated to keep wipes moist and contents of bottles/sippy cups at the right temperature (City Bag, shown right, $150). There is a unique on the go wipes pockets within some of the bags so that parents can simply store the wipes directly in the appropriate pocket. There is also a fully insulated wristlet– Momma’s City Bag Wristlet—which was designed to keep wipes moist or snacks fresh while on the go. Both the unique on the go wipes pocket and Momma’s Wristlet eliminate the use of plastic boxes or plastic bags traditionally used to store wipes and snacks. Also, items are kept warm or cold for up to 4 hours. You can use an ice pack too if you so desire but I don't. 

The other main feature that makes the bags unique is that they are CPSIA compliant. What that means is that all the materials used to create the bags—fabric and hardware— meet the CPSC lead and phthalate requirements mandated for apparel, toys, bottles and other items used for kids 12 and under. Kids put everything and anything into their mouths and the thought of a child putting a piece of the bag in their mouth and having lead/toxins emitted into them just didn’t sit well with me. 

What gave you the idea for Momma Couture?

After I had my first child I could not find the right diaper bag for my needs.  I was trying to use my own bags and of course spilling milk in them and ruining them…not good! I wanted something that could keep the snacks and milk I was always carrying around at the right temp and wanted something that was of neutral color that I actually wanted to carry around. Many of the bags are small enough to be carried as an additional bag to your own. A lot of the women I have spoke to just want to carry their own handbags around after a certain point and just need a little bag for their kids stuff. Hence the design of my first bag the Momma’s Helper, then came the Stash & Go and the designs kept coming after that.

Momma_helper_khaki_front 

Momma's Helper, $160

When and how did you get it started?

I really dedicated myself to the company back in July of 2008 and launched in March of 2009. With my first design actually sketched back in 2007, but of course filed away right after it was sketched b/c I was so busy in my corporate job and became pregnant with my second I forgot about it. 

Are there any other bags out there that have the same features? 

There are other bags that do have insulation in them, however the on the go wipes pockets and Momma’s Wristlet are unique to my collection. The neutral colors used in the collection are what other say are unique to them as well. 

What is your favorite product from the line? Which ones do you use the most often? What are the hot sellers so far? 

That’s a hard one I find I use the different bags for different situations so can’t say there’s just one. However, I do find that I am using the city bag most often.  It’s so easy to use when I’m with and without the kids b/c of it’s size and it let’s me keep my hands free. I also use the Momma’s helper a lot b/c I send my daughter’s lunch in it for school. The Stinky Bum (pictured below, $55) is the other one that I seem to be gravitating to when I go out with the kids for dinner,  quick trips out or parties b/c it’s  just so fun. It has room for both my kids stuff and my stuff, and the STINKY BUM lettering makes me laugh  every time I pull it out! 
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All the bags are doing well b/c they are so different, but if I had to pick my top 3 it would the city bag, playdate, and stinky bum. 

What are you working on right now for Momma Couture? New products? Marketing? Production?

It seems that I’m always working on everything at the same time. However, a large part of this year’s focus was product and production so I’m excited to be really focusing on the marketing aspect of my business right now. It’s just so fun interacting with Momma’s, like yourself, and getting to go to events to show off the bags and hear people’s opinions, and the needs they have as parents in their diaper bags. 

What can we expect in the future and how can moms help you get there?

You should expect more great products from the line and that all our products will remain CPSIA compliant! I do plan on expanding the line however, with 2 collections launched within the first 6 months I’m going to take a bit of a rest from adding any new bags until probably next spring…stay tuned. As for how Moms can help get the brand out there I would have to say is to use the product and tell your friends!  I have found as a parent some of the best products I use are b/c they were recommended by another parent. 

Give me a local tip about your neighborhood…great kids place, kid friendly restaurant, awesome school or mom's pampering place…

We live in Cobble Hill Brooklyn. Our neighborhood is very kid friendly—lots of parks, kid friendly restaurants across a lot of different cuisines which I love for my kids to try and great places to take my kids to classes for music, dance, etc. It’s also great that we live 10 minutes outside of the downtown manhattan where we love to take our kids. 

I love how affordable your bags are and how simple yet stylish they are. Any plans to change the design or the price points? 

Thank you!  I plan on always having my staples which is what you see in the collection now across both fabric options. I wouldn’t expect to see changes in these staple designs, but there will definitely be little details that may change/added to make them even better. I do plan on adding more bags in the future, and the plan is to keep at the price points the collections are currently at.  

Stashgo_navy_side Stash and Go, pictured, $57. 

How do you keep your diaper bag clean? I find I buy inexpensive ones because inevitably I have to get a new one when it gets too dirty. Cookie crumbs, pen marks, and dirt are the major offenders for me!

I’m a big fan of dustbusters, especially the one’s with nozzles that can get into hard to reach places. This is how I clean most of the inside of my bags except for the ones that have linings that you can pull out I use a cloth, specifically set aside for this purpose, with a little bit of water. This works for both the inside and outside of all the Momma Couture bags.

What is your ideal diaper bag? 

This is a great question! Even though I design diaper bags you would think I would say one of my designs which most of the time is true, but just like you don’t have the ideal child I truly don’t believe I’ll ever design or find the ideal diaper bag or handbag for that matter! I’m always thinking of ways they can be better. Also, I have found that my diaper bag needs change as my kids get older. The one thing that has stayed constant as I use different diaper bags is that they need to be insulated as I honestly believe that I will always need to carry around a bag with snacks and drinks for my kids! 

What mom moment made you cry? 

My there are a lot of these. Most recently it was when my daughter (almost 4) was not feeling well and my son (almost 2) was trying to sing her Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as she was laying down trying to rest. 

How do you balance work and motherhood? 

This question assumes I am balancing both! I don’t do a great job of balancing work and motherhood. I find myself working when I’m with my kids and thinking about my kids when I’m working…all I can say is a Happy Momma makes for a happy family so in my case working makes me happy which makes me a better Momma so it’s a good balance. 

To purchase any items, visit her website:  http://www.mommacouture.com/index.html

Playdate_navy_front Satchel_eggplant_front Playdate, $245 (left)

Satchel, $165 (below)