There’s more pressure than ever today for parents to create beautifully designed nurseries and children’s rooms. With #babynursery having more than 168 million views on TikTok, from minimalist to mid century modern and high-end designer looks, while a baby likely won’t remember what their nursery looked like—social media will. Another big factor in furniture decisions for parents right now is finding pieces that are non-toxic and eco-friendly.
However, one AAPI company is leading the way in both these markets as well as the mass market sector of baby furniture. Million Dollar Baby Co. was founded in 1990 in Los Angeles by Daniel and Maryann Fong and is now led by their children CEO Teddy Fong and CRO Tracy Fong. Although it is the parent company of seven brands most notably Nakesake, Babyletto, DaVinci, and Nursery Works, it continues to be a family-run business.
Commitment To Safer Products
As living a nontoxic (or at the very least) less toxic lifestyle has become a priority for many, particularly for parents, Million Dollar Baby Co products are a major go-to for safety at all price points. With cribs ranging from under $200 from DaVinci to $10000 from Nursery Works—nearly everything the company makes is non-toxic and sustainable.
“Million Dollar Baby Co. has partnered with UL to test products against the most rigorous third-party chemical emissions standards through the Greenguard Gold certification program. These stringent scientific tests scan for over 10000 chemical emissions and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs),” says Vice President of Brand Sara Worland.
76 percent of the product line across the company’s seven brands are Greenguard Gold Certified. This includes all mattresses, 98 percent of cribs, and 95 percent of rockers and gliders. It is also one of the very few companies in the nursery space to have dressers that meet UL’s strict qualifications with 38 percent of dressers certified.
Million Dollar Baby Co has also addressed the issue of foam used in rockers and gliders, which are some of the most toxic components of nursery furniture. “We’ve ensured the foam used in the seat of all our rockers and gliders meets all CA TB117-2013 flammability requirements and are CertiPUR-US certified. This means that the foam is made without PBDE or Tris flame retardants, heavy metals like mercury, formaldehyde, CFCs, and phthalates which can cause additional pollutants in the home,” explains Worland.
In addition to this, sustainability is a main priority for the brand. “All seating options achieved FSC Certification for their wooden frames in late 2021, and we only use the most sustainably sourced woods available for cribs and dressers like New Zealand Pine,” says Worland.
Babyletto is arguably Million Dollar Baby Co’s most well-known brand. Ask any stylish parent with a child currently in diapers and there’s a good chance if they don’t own Babyletto’s Hudson, Lolly, or Gelato Cribs, they’re at least seen them. These mid century modern inspired minimalist cribs are sold directly through Babyletto as well as at Pottery Barn Kids, Wayfair, and Crate and Barrel. With the minimalist neutral trend currently at its peak, most of Babyletto’s customers are from large cities, especially in California and New York. While the price point is considered mid-range, this line is popular with celebrities including Meghan Markle, Margot McGee, Heather El Moussa, and Elaine Welteroth.
Instagram and TikTok are big reasons behind the brand’s success. “The community on social media is a big driver for our brands because it allows us to connect with new and expecting parents directly and uncover insights regarding what is most important for their nurseries,” says Worland. “We can also watch trends and style advice become popular in real-time which can guide what fabrics or finishings we should use on upcoming seating items or cribs. It’s also a great opportunity for us to receive feedback on our products and partner with incredible content creators.”
But even those who don’t make decisions based on what influencers post gravitate towards Babyletto’s aesthetic including Los Angeles mom Chanel Kenner, who is currently using the Lolly 3-in-1 convertible crib in Black/Washed Natural for her second daughter. “I loved the style. I love black, white, and neutral colors, especially for furniture. When I saw this crib and the sheets that came with it, I had to have it. I got the dresser and changing table, too, that complete the set.”
When her first child graduated from the toddler bed, Kenner felt somewhat “bittersweet” that her Babyletto set would no longer be necessary. Fortunately, she became pregnant with her second child shortly thereafter and was excited to use it again. “They are so durable and still really on-trend. Plus I will always love the black/natural wood look whether it’s in style or not. The nursery is actually the dream vision I had years ago, but I finally figured out how to make it come to life.”
Nursery Works is the brand’s luxury line with some of the most showstopping cribs ever produced. This includes the famed Vetro acrylic crib that Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé used. The Luma, which is a similar crib with a somewhat more contemporary design is also popular among celebrities including Matt Sorum of Guns N Roses. His Palm Springs nursery was featured on Architectural Digest in December 2022.
Nursery Works’ most current launch is the head-turning Gradient Crib, which looks more like modern art than baby furniture. Designed by Matthew Grayson and made in Minnesota, it is made from 100 percent solid maple hardwood and is one of the most expensive cribs on the market priced at $10000.
DaVinci is an incredibly interesting brand because although its mass market—the line truly goes beyond the basics in terms of design, colors, and styles. Jenny Lind, which was the company’s first-ever crib is a great example of this. Priced under $200, it’s available in a variety of colors from blush pink to shades of green and black. It looks as if it’s been designed for social media posts, yet it’s been in production for more than 30 years.
Despite the price, parents have found DaVinci’s offerings to be almost shockingly durable. Rebecca Bingham, a mother of seven children in San Mateo, California tells me. “We originally got a DaVinci mini crib for my oldest (now 22) because we were poor and had no space. Back then you had to go to a baby furniture store. We liked the idea that became a toddler bed. There was a five-year break between our first two kids. But we passed it around to my sisters.”
After using it for two children, Bingham upgraded to a full-sized crib, ultimately ending up with three cribs total. “My kids were the kind that chewed on the rails, that vaulted out of them or climbed into them to visit younger siblings. We needed sturdy and they are. The nontoxic thing was important because my kids always gnawed on the top rail.”
Million Dollar Baby Co will continue to expand DaVinci in 2023 with new cribs, a glider, and additional products in the Carter’s By DaVinci line.
Sold under the name Million Dollar Baby Classic for 30 years—Namesake is the brand’s traditional line popular in the Midwest, Northeast, New England, South, and Southeast.
While this line was re-named in 2022, 2023 will mark a re-launch with new products and partnerships. Worland explains, “We’ve relaunched the Million Dollar Baby Classic brand as Namesake which we are treating as a whole new brand with an updated mission statement and brand values. We did this because Namesake speaks to modern parents who want a laid-back, comfortable, and eclectic design approach in their homes. Namesake fills a gap in the market for a modern and traditional aesthetic that parents have been searching for.”
Colorado Springs mom, Sasha Watson purchased the 4-In-1 Convertible Crib in January 2021 without knowing anything about the brand, but she was enticed by practicality and eco-friendly factor, telling me, “It was easiest to get the matching dresser and be done with it.”
The Future Of Million Dollar Baby Co
Sustainability will continue to play a major role across all brands. For example, Million Dollar Baby Co is in the process of transitioning many of the existing linen fabrics from eco-performance to Live-Smart fabric which is waterproof, stain-resistant, and made with recycled fibers soured from plastic water bottles. “Sustainable practices are necessary from the start of the supply chain process to the moment it reaches our customers,” says Worland. One example of this is Babyletto’s new GOTS Certified Organic Muslin Cotton Crib Sheets.
The brand will also continue its partnership with FloorFound, which sells unused open-box and returned merchandise from a variety of brands across most major home categories. Million Dollar Baby Co has its own branded storefront on the site offering pieces Babyletto, DaVinci, and Namesake at a reduced price. This isn’t only a great way to make these products more accessible to parents on any budget, but it has also kept more than 12 tons of furniture in circulation and out of landfills.
In addition to new convertible cribs across all lines, Million Dollar Baby will also be adding extra features and conveniences to their products including device charging ports on new gliders and recliners, which is a great convenience most parents will surely appreciate.