business & professional
A local mom and teacher's business helps other parents
document the monthly milestones of their babies.
hat new mom (or dad) doesn't
instantly become an amateur
photographer, snapping hun-
dreds of photos a day?
Carly Dorogi, 35, is no exception. When
her first daughter, Avery, now 31/2 (baby
sister Mila is 13 months), was born, she
wished there was an easy way to document
each phase of growth. The Novi mom, who
had her bat mitzvah at Temple Israel and
is now a part-time curriculum coordinator
for a public school in Metro Detroit, already
had a passion for photography, and her own
mother, Elyse Milstein, had passed on the
creative, crafty gene. Growing up, Dorogi's
mom worked for a friend's business, sewing
custom appliques to sweat suits.
"There was never a special occasion or
milestone that my sister and I were not out-
fitted in an appliqued sweat suit appropriate
to the celebration:' Dorogi says.
She wanted to take a monthly photograph
of her new daughter and, like her mother,
commemorate it in a special way. "But it's a
different day and age," Dorogi says, "and I
don't own a sewing machine:'
She also didn't want to buy an expensive
onesie each month, to be worn for a single
Musing to her husband, Jim, one night,
she wished she could just stick something
on their daughter's shirt each month that
would look like it was a part of the shirt,
or appliqued, without the monthly cost or
"People always say: 'Someone should
make that: My husband said, 'Why don't
you do it?' It really would not have occurred
to me to do it myself'
Faux-contrast stitching gives the
flowers, gingham and polka dots Sticky
Bellies' Oh Sew Adorable stickers (and
complementary Oh Sew Handsome
argyles and plaids) the look of hand-
Dorogi drew some sketches at her kitchen
table, had a graphic designer friend bring
them to life and in July 2010, ordered 5,000
packs of gender-neutral Sticky Bellies stick-
ers, each including 12 graphic stickers, one
for each month of the baby's first year.
"I thought that ordering 5,000 was a risk,
but I figured, so is the stock market — why
not give it a try?"
Friends and family loved the stickers.
Meanwhile, beaming new parents with
access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,
were working their marketing magic for
her. Within two months, a market editor for
Parents magazine, the country's largest circu-
lation baby and child publication, picked up
on Dorogi's simple yet genius idea, and fea-
tured the $14 product in a full-page editorial.
"I woke up the morning after the issue
hit newsstands, and I had 800 orders:' says
Dorogi. "I had inventory in the spare bed-
New designs launching this summer include Kaleidoscope Cutie and Patterned
Prepster. The heavy-duty monthly stickers can be removed and reapplied for several
40 June 20 • 2013
room, and my husband and I
stayed up all night printing out
and packaging orders:'
Next came a mention on the
website Daily Candy Kids, and
then the big-box stores came
calling, including Buy Buy Baby,
Carly Dorogi, founder and CEO of Sticky Bellies,
Bed Bath & Beyond and interna-
with daughters Mile and Avery
"I am a teacher," says Dorogi.
when Alexis was 3 weeks old. "I was franti-
"I have no background in sales or market-
cally looking for them before she turned a
ing. The product is a photography prop,
month:' says McNulty, a West Bloomfield
so people post millions of photos. Their
nanny and religious school teacher at
friends ask 'Where did you get that?' And it Temple Israel. "I love that I have a memory
goes from there. I never submitted a pitch;
of each month. I always take Alexis' picture
I've never made a sales presentation. It all
on her pink rocking chair in black leggings,
happened very organically:'
white shirt and a hair accessory; it makes it
Now a member of a local women's
so easy to watch her progress. I make col-
entrepreneur network, she also studies the
lages, stick them in her baby book — and
websites and Facebook pages of brands she
I plan to use her Sticky Bellies pictures to
thinks work well. Plus, she says, "Google is
make her first birthday invitation:'
an entrepreneur's best friend. I researched
Sticky Bellies have reached Hollywood,
printers, packaging, retail displays, every-
too, finding their way to new moms Jessica
thing. We were like, 'We need bar codes?
Simpson and Giuliana Rancic, whose son's
How do we do that?' We figured it out as we one-month Sticky Bellies photo, was flashed
on E! News last year, after which Rancic
She ships thousands of orders every day
tweeted the photo, along with "OMC alert!
and still handles the customer service her-
self Moms post pictures on her Facebook
page and she watches these babies grow up
before her eyes.
"I want to be the one they connect with,
not a call center in another country. I feel
like I'm a mom's friend:'
No easy task for a business that has dou-
bled its sales every year since 2010, and is
on track to triple from 2012. Sticky Bellies
has expanded in design from the original
gender-neutral pack of 12 months to a vari-
ety of designs for boys and girls from just
born to 12 months, plus toddler packs from
13-24 months and a maternity collection.
New lines will launch this summer,
such as Milestone Memento's ("Yahoo! I'm
headed home!:' "Ouch! I have a tooth!" and
"Listen! I can say [fill in the blank]!") and
Happiest Holidays ("My First Hanukkah"
and "My First Father's Day").
Alexis McNulty of West Bloomfield, has
Elizabeth Fielder, owner of Bella Belli
Maternity in Birmingham, first met Dorogi been stuck with Sticky Bellies going on
when she was delivering shipments herself, 11 months.
and has watched the company's growth
Look for Sticky Bellies nationally at
explode: "Sticky Bellies are adorable, so
Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath & Beyond
easy to use and priced war says Fielder.
and Hobby Lobby. Locally, retailers
"Plus, a lot of people see the stickers
include Bella Belli in Birmingham,
across the country and in magazines, so
Restyle Child in Birmingham, Catching
we love to promote the fact that Carly is a
Fireflies in Berkley and Rochester, and
more. Visit stickybellies.com for more
Lisa McNulty, mom to Madison, 41/2,
and Alexis, 101/2 months, with husband,
Tom, first saw Sticky Bellies on Facebook