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Meet Trailblazer Anna Dubrovsky

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Dubrovsky.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Anna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In my pre-mom life, I was a journalist. I covered everything from national politics to new-age music over the course of that career. Having two babies in less than two years knocked me off track. I couldn’t travel the way I used to, so I couldn’t chase the sort of stories I loved. And I wasn’t in the right headspace for writing. It’s hard to concentrate on the page when a kid who kept you up half the night is flinging pear puree at your head.

They say motherhood is sacrifice. Some of us give up careers, at least temporarily. We give up restful nights and leisurely showers and Sunday brunches with our girlfriends. I expected some of that, but I was surprised to find that I had to give up jewelry. Babies and dangly earrings are a dangerous mix! I couldn’t wear necklaces or bracelets either without getting into a tug-of-war with a tenacious infant. I guess I needed a creative outlet because I decided to create my own line of baby-proof jewelry. That’s how Wee Likey was born.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It certainly hasn’t been a smooth road. I didn’t have a fashion or design background. I’d never started a business. I had zero retail experience and little understanding of social media. I didn’t even have an Instagram account. None of that stopped me from pursuing the idea that I could create a product and brand from scratch. My biggest strength may be my lack of fear. I’ve motorcycled up a mountain, explored sunken ships, hang-glided, skydived, and walked away from a good-paying job to study yoga in India. I’m lucky that fear isn’t part of my wiring. I’m also lucky to be white, well-educated, and well-connected. That opens a lot of doors. I knew people who’d succeeded in business, and I picked their brains. I knew creative people, and I solicited their feedback. I reached out to friends and friends of friends in PR and patent law. It took about a year and a half to turn my idea into a physical product, and then I congratulated myself. That was my biggest mistake – thinking my work was done. In fact, bringing a consumer product into the world is just the beginning. The real work is getting the word out. I’ve been struggling with that ever since.

We’d love to hear more about Wee Likey.
Wee Likey’s niche is vintage-inspired baby goods. When I designed Baby & Me Bangles, which are women’s bracelets that double as baby-safe toys, I drew inspiration from vintage plastic jewelry, particularly the colorful Bakelite bracelets of the 1930s and ‘40s. More recently, I launched a product called the Bumbox. It’s a diaper caddy that resembles an old-school boombox. I hope to bring more ideas to life.

I pride myself on making products that are multifunctional and lasting. Much of what we buy and receive as new parents has a short useful life: the baby clothes, the bouncy chairs, the bottle warmer, the itty-bitty feeding utensils. Nothing against such products (some are indispensable), but I do think the baby industry pushes us toward overconsumption. We’re made to feel like every parenting challenge can be solved with this gear or that gadget. My kids are 6 and 7 now. I still wear Baby & Me Bangles when I want a splash of color, and my kids still play with them in the bath. They’ve been out of diapers a long time, but the Bumbox comes in handy as a craft organizer. I don’t want to contribute to a throwaway culture.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
My parents taught me by example that it’s possible to start over. My mother was a doctor and my father an engineer in their native Russia. We came to the US as refugees when I was five, and I watched them build careers from scratch. My mother worked as a nurse’s aide, changing bedpans and the like, while she learned English and studied for medical exams. She endured the grueling pace of a medical residency while raising two kids. I don’t tell her often enough how much I admire her.

I have an incredible circle of girlfriends whose wisdom and encouragement have been invaluable. They will drop everything to validate the sh*t out of me when if I’m feeling down.

I should also give a shout-out to Iris Apfel, the 98-year-old fashion icon. She and her bold jewelry choices were a source of inspiration for Baby & Me Bangles.

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Image Credit:
Wee Likey

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