Passionate about supporting local businesses and ethical slow fashion, Belinda Jane Keehn was inspired to create BJ’s PJs, designing the finest quality cotton, Australian-made, classic designs to maximise comfort and provide support where it’s needed. Designed for all shapes and sizes, their products inspire you to feel more confident in your pyjamas and loungewear, and include premium, 4-way stretch, organic cotton maternity wear that will grow with your baby, and your boobs! Adding Baby Origami to their range offers parents beautiful, quality wraps that are simple and easy to use, and designed to guide parents and carers to wrap their babies consistently and securely every time. Here, Belinda talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business, the challenges she has overcome along the way, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I was inspired to set up BJ’s PJs out of a need to find comfortable cotton clothing that still looked and felt good and would offer me some form of wire-free breast support – there was nothing out there! I’m particularly passionate about Australian made, supporting local businesses and ethical slow fashion, so consequently the market is already limited in what I could find, so with nothing available I decided to design some myself!
I had my own gardening and maintenance business which I loved working in, but my body aches and pains were becoming more difficult to work with, I realised there were more women in my situation and there was a lot of interest, so I started BJ’s PJs and we have grown from a couple of styles to now offering a maternity range, a men’s range (they like to be comfortable and look and feel good too!) and have also adopted Baby Origami Double Wrap™ for which we use the same amazing fabric and premium manufacturing in Sydney.
Baby Origami was designed by a friend who realised the need for something more simple and practical to swaddle babies. Not many new mums know what to do with a square piece of fabric and there isn’t much guidance anymore. It’s a bit of a trial and error, however, with Baby O you, it’s simple and easy to use, wrapping consistently each time to ensure your baby is wrapped securely for a good night’s sleep. The fabric is key – it needs to have enough stretch to allow limbs, joints, ligaments, bones and muscles to develop without too much restriction, just enough to comfort from the startle reflex but still allowing healthy essential movement.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Starting out was not easy, I had to find the perfect fabric, the best pattern maker and the finest cut, sew and trim manufacturing that was located close enough to my home, so that I could oversee all production to ensure it was premium quality and ethically and sustainably made – it took a long time and was not without its dramas, costs, mistakes and so many ‘let-downs’. With the strictest guidelines for ethical and sustainable production, I really had to sift through the minefield of non-ethical businesses – it is quite scary and sad that this is the case, even in Australia. After several years, we DID IT and have been able to offer premium quality garments and Baby Origami Double Wrap™ that will offer comfort, support, confidence, longevity and modern styles that will also last.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Besides finding my ideal fabric, pattern maker and manufacturer, we have been very fortunate to be nominated for several awards and have been winners, finalists or runners up in all of them. This has been incredibly uplifting, and I believe gives credibility to our brand. This is something we are really proud of as it has been a long journey and the highs and lows are very real – especially during COVID lockdowns etc. Reaching our sales forecasts and financial goals in a hugely competitive e-commerce world is very rewarding.
Lux Life Baby and Parent Award for both sister brands has been one of our biggest highlights as it is a luxury brand global award.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Ahhhh……..balance…. That is tricky and I believe it is a very individual thing and can be incredibly difficult to achieve. For me, I need to make sure I get out into the fresh air and be in nature, usually a beach walk with my 4-legged best friend, Sammy, and also catching up with family and friends on a regular basis. It’s so important not to focus on work 24-7 – which can be hard with you put your heart and soul into it. Trying not to put too many expectations on yourself, ensuring you allocate some “you” time and putting away all devices to avoid being distracted from those precious “you” times is also essential. Easier said than done 😉
It takes constant vigilance not to fall into bad habits and our bodies will often let us know when it’s time we need to make changes – we need to listen and be self aware!