When Shannon Falcone, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, was pregnant with her first child, she was on a quest to find gender-neutral, sustainable, safe, and comfortable baby clothes that mirrored her style. The former event planner joked that maybe she should start her own clothing line but brushed off the idea at first. Fast forward to the birth of her son, and Shannon was ready to pivot to a career that allowed her to do something creative and be at home. She went back to her idea and had what she calls, an awakening—she spent the next year googling the fashion industry, finding ethical partners and organic resources, and in 2022 (just before her second child’s due date), Sage Baby was born. The ethically sourced, eco-friendly, comfortable, and great quality clothing is for newborns and the entire family, making it easy for moms, dads, and siblings to match their littlest family members. We caught up with this Haddon Heights mom of Nicky, 2, and Brooklynn, 1, to find out what helps her achieve work/life balance, the crucial role social media plays in her business, and her family’s go-to spot (hint: there are animals, activities and ice cream) where you can easily spend an entire day.
Tell us a little about your background and family. Though I grew up in Hamilton, NJ, right after college, my husband and I lived in Philly. The pandemic made us want to leave the city and be closer to family, especially since we were starting our own family. We decided that returning to our Jersey roots felt right, and now my husband, Nicholas, and I live in Haddon Heights with our son, Nicky, 2 ½, and daughter Brooklynn, who’s just about 1.
Career-wise, what did you do before starting Sage Baby, and why did you decide to launch this particular business? I spent my entire young adult life as an event planner, where I traveled the US and Mexico, working on corporate events for 60 to 2,000 people. It was never my plan to leave a career I loved so much, but in the back of my mind, I knew that traveling often and leaving the country every few months wouldn’t work once we started our family. I had this idea of eventually doing my own thing because it was important that I didn’t lose my professional identity, but I wasn’t sure what it would be. While pregnant with Nicky, I was sitting on the couch with my husband and some close friends and was pretty frustrated that I couldn’t find nice gender-neutral baby clothing since we wanted to be surprised when he was born. I joked that I should start a gender-neutral baby clothing line and didn’t think about it too much at first. Then, after Nicky was born, I realized I wanted to be home with him, raising him day in and day out, but I still wanted to learn and grow and do something for myself. That prior conversation came back to me as an “awakening” — it led me to this business. Soon after that, I quit my job and I started googling to learn as much as I could about the fashion industry and what it would take to do this.
Any advice on achieving work/life balance? Keeping a running priority list and having time management and communication skills are key. Going into it, I also knew it was crucial to have in-depth conversations with my husband on how it would affect our family, mainly because his workday starts at 8:00 AM, and he isn’t usually finished until 8:30 PM. Communicating with each other about our expectations and committing to a schedule together is the only way I can do what I have to do work-wise and still have quality family time. Along with having Nicky help me with work in age-appropriate ways, at least 2 to 3 times per week after the kids go to sleep, I commit to focusing on Sage Baby and being locked into work. Of course, I realize that sometimes it’s impossible to get everything done, and when that’s the case, it’s essential to delegate specific tasks and ask for help whenever and however.
Having launched in 2022, Sage Baby is still a new company, but has it evolved since its inception, and do you have any plans for further growth? I care about our planet and sustainability, so I am committed to not following the traditional fashion market with daily or weekly fashion drops where clothes can end up in landfills. As a result, I’ve launched two collections and seen steady sales and organic growth. I plan to partner with some awesome companies in the very near future, and I’d love to have a warehouse eventually that’s not in our basement, but my goal right now is slow and steady.
What are some NJ spots that you and your family enjoy visiting? Barnegat Light in Long Beach Island is our favorite spot in the state. My parents have had a home there for a long time, and my brother and I spent our childhood summers there. Now that we have families of our own, we enjoy gathering there together and creating more special memories there with our children, too. Another unique spot is Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford. They have many animals, pick your own seasonal fruit and flowers, hayrides, a market, an ice cream counter, and much more. You can easily spend a day there.
Please share some favorite local businesses. One of our favorite places is the The Bistro at Haddonfield, where we’ve been making memories since we moved here. It’s our weekly ritual to visit the downtown dinosaur statue and then head to this great family-owned and family-friendly delicious eatery. Another local business I love is April Robin Florist & Gifts—I associate it with so many memorable moments in my life. She did the flowers for my babies’ baptisms, my husband has gotten beautiful arrangements for me from them, and I also use her for my friends who have babies. The arrangements there are very special.
What advice do you have for a mompreneur just starting? Don’t wait until everything is perfect. I’ve found so many parallels to parenthood–we’re all just figuring it out. Just go for it and do the best you can while you continue to educate yourself and do better as you go along. Also, build a community. The cool thing about social media right now is that you can seek out other mompreneurs and develop your own support system. I follow and message many and let them know that I think what they’re doing is incredible, which helps me build a community where we can help lift each other so that I don’t feel like I’m doing it all alone. And lastly, know that there’s an incredible amount of resources at your fingertips. With the click of a button, you can watch a YouTube video or read a leadership book and take away the nuggets you need.