Every airport seems to have the same sad cast of characters; there’s the teary couple, locked in their lingering goodbyes, or the jet-set businessman, yawning into the harsh glare of his laptop. And there’s the poor travelling mommy — pushing her stroller with one hand and dragging her baggage with the other.
For 32-year-old Torontonian Michelle Thoms, this last scene is one she knows all too well. During a brief stint teaching in New York, bringing the baby home for visits was always stressful. “We were always scrambling,” Thoms recalls, and even when she and her husband rented baby equipment, things still managed to go awry. “We always had half of what we needed and what we did get was never suitable for her age or weight,” she says.
After moving back to Toronto in 2005, Thoms did some research and surveyed parents, realizing she wasn’t alone in her need for a decent baby equipment rental agency. She decided to answer her own prayers by starting gogoBaby, an equipment rental company providing everything a family needs to travel light, even when toting the tots along.
Since starting up in March 2006, gogoBaby has been a hit with families visiting the Toronto area and is in the stages of becoming Canada’s first franchised baby equipment rental agency. “People are just excited that this service exists,” says Thoms. “Some of them didn’t even know you can rent baby equipment.” With gogoBaby, everything is delivered to the airport or a family’s accommodations — no lugging, hauling or hassles.
Thoms’ mini arsenal of baby accouterments — which she stores in her downtown home — has everything from strollers and cribs to car seats and baby swings. She has a sympathetic eye for details and asks her clients if their child is a boy or girl, to ensure the linens are of a suitable colour. Thoms also stocks gogoBaby’s with brand names because in her opinion, treating your family to a bit of luxury is what holidays are all about. “When you go on vacation, you stay at a hotel that’s most likely better than your home,” she says. “I do the same with my baby equipment.”
As a mompreneur, Thoms loves her job because it allows her to meet people from all over the world while giving her the flexibility to spend time with her daughter. And part of what gogoBaby is all about is accommodating modern moms on the go like herself. “I’ve already been to tons of places in the world and I don’t just plan on stopping because I have a baby,” says Thoms. “I see this as a business for a new generation of women and their families.”