It was 1989, and Susan Henderson’s daycare provider asked parents to bring in pillows as they expressed concern that there weren’t enough hands to hold all the center’s infants at feeding time. Henderson showed up with a C-shaped pillow with rounded edges that quickly became a must-have for all the moms, and the Boppy® Pillow and The Boppy Company was born.
Henderson began showing the item at area trade shows, word-of-mouth advertising spread, and more than three decades later Boppy remains one of the the most popular – and award-winning products for new parents — close to 100 awards from various sources.
In an ironic twist, Boppy was created as a pillow to help babies sit up. But CEO Nancy Bartley, who was employee number 10 with the Golden, Co.-based company, got a phone call in 1999 from Child magazine congratulating her on Boppy being voted best nursing pillow.
Bartley, who is also referred to on the company website as “Head Girl. Den Mother. Chief Mom,” says, “We realized that this was a big deal, and people were obviously finding other uses for the pillow. We did some testing and dedicated 50% of the front of our packaging of an image of mom nursing and 50% with the baby being supported in sitting position.
“After further to listening to our consumers, we learned that dad or grandma or grandpa also benefited from the support of Boppy when feeding a baby a bottle. Sometimes it is surprising how tired their back and shoulders get holding a little seven-pound baby. So Boppy evolved into a feeding pillow.” And now it supports supervised awake time through the entire first year of life, from feeding to propping to tummy time to sitting.
The Boppy brand has evolved also. In 2009, Boppy expanded into the health care market, supporting breastfeeding moms in hospitals, clinics and private practices. In 2013, the Boppy Effect was launched to support, empower and educate moms throughout the journey of motherhood. The initiative, which highlights the company’s core values, was renamed the Momkind Project in 2018. Envisioning a better world for all momkind, Boppy works to:
- Support mothers without judgement
- Educate parents on safe practices
- Empower women to create the motherhood journey that is right for her
And since 2011, Boppy has partnered with First Candle, a leading national nonprofit dedicated to the survival of babies and the importance of safe sleeping practices for infants. The $5,000 charitable donation Boppy received as a Community Hero has been earmarked for First Candle.
A full product line includes items to support babies and mothers from pregnancy through the first year of a child’s life. It’s no wonder, then, that Bartley says people are frequently surprised that “such a big brand is supported by a staff of only 33. Most people just don’t realize how passionate those 33 people are about this brand and its mission.”
“I know it’s something that everyone says (about their own employees), but we really do have an amazing team.”
Insperity Business Performance Advisors Beverly Gibson and Sarah Hogan agree. The two jointly nominated Boppy as Community Hero “because of all the wonderful things they do in the community,” Gibson said. “Until someone has been a new mom, it’s hard to understand how difficult that is, and Boppy actively reaches out and helps new mothers. Their heart and their culture set them apart. They stand out because they live their mission.”
Hogan adds that the company “translates this giving and support to their employees. There’s not one person who doesn’t live, eat and breathe the (Boppy) mission as it’s being put into consumer products – and that’s rare in for-profit companies.”
The two feel that the Community Hero honor generated excitement among the Boppy employees. “It’s a reminder that they’re not just pushing products,” Hogan said. “And it was a way for them to get to know us (Insperity) better.”
Bartley agrees and added that the celebration was a big boost for her staff, of which nearly one-third have joined since the COVID pandemic. “We’ve all been in the office together only a couple of times since we’ve been hybrid-working. This recognition was a fresh breath for them, and I think after all the hard work we’ve done, especially our newer people, it was like ‘wow, this is a really big deal, and I’m working for a really cool company.’ “It’s hard to articulate the energy this team has, but it’s similar to how we felt when we met the Insperity team before we became a client. It felt comfortable, like we were engaging with a friend. You get the feeling right away that they’re going to support you, they’re going to listen to you, and they’re going to find ways to solve the problem if there’s an issue. We felt that level of commitment from our first meeting. It felt like a reflection of who our team is.”