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The Boston Globe
"Stars Give Stroller Companies A Little Push"
In a 19th century former shoe factory in Rockland, Bob and Lauren Monahan design a distinctly 21st-century product; the $600 baby stroller, complete with shock absorbers, a sleek aluminum frame, never-flat tires, and a handle that adjusts in height to be equally comfy for both mom and dad.
They started UppaBaby less than three years ago, and already they're positioned squarely in the middle of a fast-growing market: the high-end stroller sector, where design-concious parents shell out between $500 and $1,000 to buy an all-terrain ride that increasingly resembles a sport utility vehicle for their spawn.
"In the past couple years, the market has really been flooded with higher-quality strollers," says Eli Gurock, co-founder of the Boston area retailer Magic Beans. "Parents are home a lot more with their kids, and they ant something that's congruous with all the other stuff they have. If they're driving a nice car, why not have a nice stroller as well?"
The Monahans' success story - UppaBaby's products are now carried by more than 150 outlets such as BuyBuy Baby - hinged on design innovation, some sharp insights into the value of celebrity endorsements and a bit of lucky timing.
Bob Monahan spent his career working as a product designer for companies like Ford Motor Co., Reebok, and Canton-based Safety 1st. He'd designed baby monitors, cabinet locks, and battery-powered ride-on Corvettes for children before setting off o his own in fall 2005 to try to cultivate an idea he had for a new safety gate. But while visiting a factory in Taiwan, he happened across a stroller body that was being developed and decided to adapt it into a product that would appeal to American parents.
"We wanted to make it attractive - something that complements your lifestyle, not, 'I have this ugly stroller because i need it for the baby,'" says Lauren Monahan, who'd previously worked in event marketing at Canton-based Reebok. She and Bob met in the Reebok gym.
Gurock opened his Magic Beans shop in the summer of 2004, and found shortly after that high-end strollers were rolling out the door faster than he expected.
The Monahans' timing was close to perfect. They initially priced the Vista at $500, so it seemed like a bargain compared with the higher-priced Bugaboo.
UppaBaby's ligher travel stroller, the G-Lite, sells for $99.