As a young mother of two, Pig Jelly was in constant search of a changing bag that was trendy, practical and in a nomadic format for quick trips to the playground or for shopping. It turned out to be a tall order, so she decided to create it on her own. Having always had a penchant for fashion design, Jellyn sketched out ideas for her perfect type of bag, which eventually became her bestseller – a sleek, trendy and functional mini backpack for the modern minimalist mom. Named after his daughter, his business hi, aria now offers this original changing bag as well as handbags and chic accessories for every phase of femininity. We sat down with mum Dumont to talk about how a road trip with her husband got her to start her business, why learning to ask for help is essential, and her must-see place in North Jersey. for authentic Filipino cuisine.
Photo credit of featured image: Peter Bonilla
Tell us about your professional background. Have you always had a sense of design?
Ever since I was little, I’ve always had a heart for creativity, whether it’s drawing doodles, undertaking art projects, or learning graphic design at such a young age. I even remember having a notebook where I drew models of clothes. Ironically, I didn’t pursue him in college. Originally, I majored in finance and moved into marketing in my senior year after realizing that I wanted to work in an industry where I could be creative. Most of my professional experience was in marketing, social media, and events, which helped me launch my business. Designing bags was something I just learned through trial and error.
How was hi, aria born and where does its name come from?
My business grew out of a conversation in the car with my husband. I was pregnant with my daughter and we were coming home from the park with my son. I was complaining that there isn’t a diaper bag on the market that ticks all the boxes for me, and I was stuck using a toddler backpack to carry his things. I explained to my husband what I thought was the perfect quick travel diaper bag, and he said, “so why don’t you make it? So I did it by sketching The Original Mini, initially named the On The Run bag. When choosing a brand name, I knew I wanted it to be named after my daughter. I always knew Aria was the perfect name for her, but it took a while to convince my husband. Initially it was supposed to be called “Aria Bags” but the Instagram handle was already taken so I had to get creative. I landed on hi, aria – I added “hi” as a form of welcoming it into the world. I love him, actually. I’m glad the original grip was taken, otherwise I wouldn’t have found it.
What do you love most about creating your own products and being NJMOMpreneur? What do you find most difficult about this?
What I love most about creating my own products is the creative control. Being able to draw a sketch and bring it to life is always a surreal experience, especially when I see the end products I drew on my iPad. I also like the luxury of controlling my time and spending most of it with my children. When I was working full time, I wasted a lot of time watching my son grow up, so I wanted to find a way to support them while spending time with them. Starting a business was the way to do it for me. But working with my children also has its challenges. Finding the balance between work and home is something I am trying to accomplish because right now the jobs are scrambled into one. I often find myself not being there when I should, and it has been a learning process.
Can you share some of your favorite products from the range and what makes them so special?
It’s so difficult, but my number one will always be The Original Mini. This is the first bag I have ever designed and the reason I started the brand in the first place: to give moms a versatile, trendy and functional bag specifically designed for fast travel. The Original Mini has a permanent place in my range and will always come out in new colors, variations and interior designs, which I am very passionate about. Another personal favorite is the CLEO bag. As a new mom, I have a lot of friends who aren’t moms yet, so I wanted to create a bag that would suit them as well. The CLEO was designed for every step of femininity.
What is it like to be in the baby industry, and how has your motherhood journey helped shape your business?
Being part of the baby industry has been amazing! I have met a lot of other mompreneurs and am very grateful to be part of the community. It is also very competitive, like any other industry. Everyone is just trying to stay on top of the latest trends, but it also means that some of your ideas are emulated and replicated. Being a mom has been the most important factor in helping shape my business. Most of the time, business owners wrestle with ideas and try to get into the minds of their target audience. Lucky for me, I’m one of my target audience so it helps a lot in the brainstorming process. My daily maternity experiences help me determine the next step for the brand in terms of design, functionality and style.
Tell us some of your favorite NJ places to hit with your family and why you love them.
We are big fans of the Turtle Back Zoo and Van Saun Park. We visit Van Saun Park all the time as there is a huge park and my kids like to take a ride on the train to relax after a fun day or take a short trip to the zoo to greet the animals. We visit the Turtle Back Zoo at least once a year, and we love it because kids can explore and learn about so many different animal species. If you are ever in the North Jersey area, some local must-see spots are Denaro’s, Raw Squeeze, and Tropical Hut which has the most amazing Filipino food.
What do you hope your kids learn from watching you run your own business?
I hope my children will learn to never give up on their dreams. I have always believed that with hard work and passion you can accomplish anything. I also hope they learn that challenges and obstacles are not a sign of failure. On the contrary, they are a sign of progress. These difficulties are there to help you grow.
What’s the best advice you have for another aspiring NJMOMpreneur?
The best advice I can share is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own. Owning a small business has many tasks and doing it alone can be overwhelming. Add to that being a mom, and the to-do list is almost endless. When you ask for help, you are giving yourself air to breathe, which is essential for your mental health and allows you to grow taller. You can’t grow taller if you’re constantly too busy catching up.
For more on Jellyn and hi, aria, check out her website and Instagram.
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