Divine Baby LLC
Bobbi Gallina might say her new baby gift company, Divine Baby, was the result of divine inspiration. The name, after all, came to her in a dream. But when the high-end baby blanket company launches online in March, it will be the crowning moment of a 10-year quest to carve her own legacy.
Raised in Omaha, Neb., with the family name of Nebrigich, Gallina was the daughter of an eastern Mediterranean father whose family hardly spoke a word of English, and a mother of both English and Irish descent. Living in a blue-collar neighborhood populated by many Europeans, she attended Catholic school while her father worked in a warehouse and her mother, a bank. It was a confusing time, culturally. "I lived in two worlds," she said.
Decades later and miles away, Gallina, the former wife of a Madison developer, is about to launch Divine Baby, connecting children to their cultural heritage from the day they are born.
Gallina faced an uphill battle after her divorce in 2000. A college dropout ("as was Bill Gates and [the late] Steve Jobs," she is quick to point out), she had devoted much of her married life to being a stay-at-home mom to five children. "The only thing I knew was kids," she said. She abandoned an earlier idea of becoming a wedding dress designer when baby blankets became her passion. With no prior knowledge of textile manufacturing, she spent two years visiting plants across the U.S., Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Bali, learning everything she could about the industry.
Her first venture produced 100 baby blankets manufactured in Vietnam and embroidered with Bible verses. But after some soul-searching about her own upbringing, that idea evolved into her multi-cultural, heritage-specific baby blankets for boys and girls.
"It's valuable for children to have a sense of their roots," she said, "and the blanket is the first attachment a baby makes to an object. We want it to be a tool for a baby to learn about other cultures, their culture, and start to connect the dots."
Gallina has spent the past few years assembling a team of talented women from around the country to transition Divine Baby from vision to reality – hiring, on a contract basis, a social media expert, a textile designer, an illustrator, and a branding expert, among others. "Whatever we put on these blankets had to be meaningful, and also nurturing for the parent and child," she said.
Each 36.5" x 44" cotton blanket features authentic designs (researched in part at UW-Madison) from seven distinct cultures – African, Asian, Latino, Indian, Native American, Anglo, and tropical. Each will be packaged in a small, weathered-look "travel suitcase," complete with a passport explaining the history and design. A related children's storybook and a small charm created by Chalmers Jewelers will also be available for purchase. "The blankets are illustrated in the books," Gallina said, "which celebrate the beauty of diversity."
Thus far, she has spent six figures bringing Divine Baby to market, including trademarking her idea through her attorney at Lathrop & Clark. The blankets, priced between $150 and $200 each, are being manufactured in India, while the books are being printed in Malaysia. Gallina hopes to sell 50 blankets a month. "Babies are recession-proof," she said.
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