GCU professor seeks growth spurt in baby bundle business

Sophia Zaft, a social media adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University, embarked recently on a new enterprise. At her space in Canyon Ventures, she runs Bundle Baby Co., a monthly subscription business that provides products such as diapers, clothing, teethers and bathing products.

Photos by Ralph Freso

Sophia Zaft cannot be swayed immediately into buying a onesie for her 1 ½-year-old son Briggs solely on its looks.

“Everything is driven by aesthetics, and people forget sometimes they need products to work well — not just to be pretty,” Zaft said.

“A pretty wooden rattle isn’t going to solve your problems when your baby is screaming at 3 a.m.”

The increasing commitment to Briggs and his 7-year-old brother Eldon, as well as a passion to help new mothers, influenced Zaft to scale down from her full-time duties as an instructor for the College of Arts and Media at Grand Canyon University and embark on a new business, Bundle Baby Co., as the latest startup company of GCU’s Canyon Ventures.

Zaft emphasized two distinctions she believes separate her business from other baby ventures. First, she stresses that her monthly subscription business addresses the essentials needed for infants and babies, such as diapers, wipes, skin-care products, thermometers and high chairs. Some of those products can be purchased as part of a monthly subscription or a bundle from the website (bundlebabyco.com), with diapers generating a substantial portion of the business.

Second, Zaft believes Bundle Baby doesn’t limit customers to buying a specific diaper or the most expensive product.

“There used to be two diapers on the market,” Zaft said. “You bought Pampers, or you bought Huggies. There's (now) 50 brands of diapers, and they all fit so differently. So the subscription part of it just really allows parents to try all of the diapers without having to commit to a $100 box. ‘I can't spend $100 just to find out I don't like something.’”

The “high utility” boxes, as Zaft describes the essential products, attempt to address the need for parents and their babies.

“When people are spending money, they need to give parents useful gifts versus just another onesie,” Zaft said. “It seems like once you have the essentials or the necessities, then everything else falls into place. Then you can get the nice, cute onesies, but you really can't be assured that nice onesie is going to fit, right?”

Zaft has taught at GCU for 10 years, but she encountered difficulty balancing work with a young family. Becoming a parent may have been a blessing in disguise, because of her passion for baby products. She is very confident in her new venture, particularly her ability to find products and services that work best for individuals.

Just a few of the items from Bundle Baby Co.

Her mission and planning earned the backing of Robert Vera, Founding Director of GCU's Canyon Ventures Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He has provided encouragement for several GCU-driven startups, such as the Noggin Boss enlarged hats that became a national trend after an appearance on TV's "Shark Tank" in March 2022.

“It was an easy sell for Robert,” Zaft said. “I think Robert remembers what it's like to be a parent and remembers the ethos of, ‘you only know what you know,’ and if somebody could help make that easier.

“People function today so much out of convenience. ‘I want it fast. I want it now, and I don't want to think about it.’ That's what people want. We're saying we have the best products, we can get it to you quickly, and you don't have to think about it.”

She praised Vera for helping her make connections and “ideate.”

About a dozen small black packages located near Zaft’s work cubicle were ready for delivery. To provide the best and most efficient products for customers, she said she is constantly testing products.

“I’m trying to do all the work for everybody else,” she said.

Adelei Nykamp, a social media major at GCU, provides assistance in a setup Zaft admits is currently a “bare bones” operation, typical of most startups.

A small photo studio is adjacent to their workstation, and Nykamp assists with photographing products, social media planning and graphics.

Zaft envisions hiring more students as her business grows (particularly with the diaper and wipe subscriptions), allowing her to further pursue a long-term plan to produce a diaper cream with help from a GCU chemistry student.

“I love baby products,” she said. “I love the industry. I like the cool, new stuff that's coming out all the time. And it can be hard to keep track of, so I just want to help make parenting easier for people.”

"People function so much today out of convenience," said Bundle Baby Co. founder Sophia Zaft, who makes receiving baby products easy, via mail subscription.

There’s a balance she is trying to attain. She will teach one social media class as an adjunct professor “to stay fresh and cool,” primarily since the first class of social media students is scheduled to graduate during the 2023-24 calendar year.

“That program was my baby,” Zaft said.

At the same time, she will try to expand her business while attending to her sons.

There’s no shortage of potential new customers, yet Zaft wonders how she can grow Bundle Baby as the babies of current customers mature into childhood.

“It will be interesting for me to see what that the next step looks like when they cycle out of being a baby,” Zaft said. “What else can I offer them?

“I think one of my hopes is to grow as the consumer grows.”

Senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected].


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GCU News: Alum brings hats to Canyon Ventures, 'Shark Tank'

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