Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Bauer.
Mary, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
We started our company when I became pregnant with our first child. Looking back over the past 26+ years, I am in wonder of the road that we took. When Stephen and I started Bratt Decor in 1995, my only goal was to create a small company that would allow me to work from home just until the baby or babies were in school. This company has given me that and so much more. The late ’90s were a time of learning who we were and figuring out how to tell the world about it. We grew slowly but surely, first getting our designs in small, luxury boutiques in NY and Philly.
Our brand grew, and we soon found ourselves in hundreds of boutiques across the country and even a few in Europe. Although we counted among our clientele, J. Lo, the Kardashians (even making an appearance on their show), Alec Baldwin, certain royal families who shall remain nameless, and many other Hollywood celebs, we remained under the radar. We had offices in China, Vietnam, L.A. and here in Baltimore. When the internet became a retail force unparalleled, and many of our boutiques went out of business, we shifted. In 2016, when Stephen was diagnosed with cancer, the business shifted again. With so much foreign competition and changing consumer habits, we could not sustain the business we had. We had to seriously downsize to survive. Today, it is just Stephen and I once again, running our mom and baby baby furniture store. We sell on our own site, www.brattdecor.com, Amazon and Wayfair. Life is just such a wild ride.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Definitely struggles. 1995: Just trying to find manufacturing in a world before the internet. 2000: Being thrust into a retail landscape that was changing in ways no one understood. 2007-8 Increased safety regulations, then recessions putting some many of our retails outlets out of business. 2015: Designs knocked off by Chinese manufacturers and brought to market cheaper than we could make them. 2016: Stephen diagnosed with cancer. 2017: Complete downsize of Bratt. All employees let go. Stephen and I (Mary) alone run the company.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
When I was pregnant, Stephen designed the most beautiful and unique iron baby crib for our son. It was inspired by old French balconies, the wilds of Africa, which was his birthplace, and the long-lasting beauty that comes from quality. We never cut corners and always went above and beyond. I was able to work from home and be the hands-on mom I had always dreamed of. We have never had a recall. Our quality lasts for generations (I know have second-generation kids growing up in our designs), and I am so proud to have worked beside my husband every single day.
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I think Covid brought us all back home and people invested in their families and homes like never before. I am hoping that the desire for quality and things that last will once again trump the desire for quick, cheap and disposable.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.brattdecor.com
- Instagram: bratt_decor
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brattdecor
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BrattDecor