Tara Darnley is the co-founder of Yummy Mitt Teething Mitten—an innovative baby teething solution that allows babies to self-soothe while sucking on the teether. Recently, Darnley pitched her product on the TV show Steve Harvey’s Funderdome. Brandon Andrews of Values Partnerships sat down with Darnley after the show to find out more about her invention and her business plans.
Brandon Andrews: The Yummy Mitt Teething Mitten is an innovative solution to baby teething. How was the product developed?
Tara Darnley: The Yummy Mitt is indeed an innovative and eco-friendly solution for teething babies. The idea for the Yummy Mitt was inspired by our very own daughter who began teething at only 2-months-old and lacked the dexterity to hold traditional teethers. There was nothing on the market at the time that would allow her to self-soothe while teething. She was constantly chewing on her hands for comfort and this is very normal for infants, so the natural thought was why not merge the two together. A mitten she would not have to hold and adding a silicone top for her to chew on (to apply pressure to emerging teeth). The concept was developed to meet our own need until we realized there were parents all over the world with the very same problem. A video of our daughter using the prototype going viral back in 2014 pushed us to bring the product to market in three months.
How does Yummy Mitt keep babies safe?
Being parents ourselves, safety is our top priority when my husband and I develop any of our products. The Yummy Mitt is safe for babies because there are no detachable parts that may cause choking. We combined two of the safest materials on the market for infants to chew on, 100% food grade silicone and 100% cotton. The Yummy Mitt is also safety tested to be resold worldwide and is free from all toxic chemicals. It is BPA, lead, PVC, phthalate and latex-free. Conveniently, for parents we also made sure it is machine washable.
How did you feel pitching your business in the Funderdome?
It was a mixture of everything. One of the best experience in my entrepreneurial career for sure. I was nervous, excited, and yet determined to win. I was almost 8 months pregnant when I pitched, so of course the top concern for everyone was please do not fall. So many thoughts went through my head before going on stage, but the producers were very encouraging and made sure I was comfortable throughout the entire process. I was praying I would not go into labor while pitching. I ultimately threw out my original pitch and just spoke to the live audience as If they were my customers and that worked in my favor. Never overthink your pitch; it will for sure not work in your favor when you do.
What did you learn from your experience on the show?
Being an introvert entrepreneur, I learned to get out more and pitch our company. I have turned down plenty of pitching opportunities as well as lost some because I was so nervous. Yet, when I communicate with customers, it’s so natural for me. Winning the $20,000 gave me more confidence to speak more publicly and help others more through public speaking and even being more visible on my personal social media to help others on the same path. Definitely learning to do it afraid.
(The Yummy Mitt Teether. Image: ABC/Lisa Rose)
How do you plan to grow your business in 2017?
So many exciting opportunities have been presented since the show airing. We are currently sold in Babies R Us and we continue to grow through our international channels. The Yummy Mitt is currently distributed in Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, Poland, and Malaysia. We will scale more in the U.K. through Amazon in the coming weeks. We are always working on new innovative baby/kids products and have several new releases available now including our Chewable “Glow in the dark” teether Plush Toy. We are working on our new toothbrush design to be released later this year. We are definitely scaling our brand and product line to continue to revolutionize the baby industry.