Jasmin Smith’s new business began with what all new moms dread. She ran out of diapers while shopping at a mall with her baby twins and had to make do with a blanket and some baby clothes. Although her improvised solution was far from ideal, it did spark the idea for BabyVend – a start-up company that dispenses diapers and other supplies from vending machines. Since then, Smith’s business has spread beyond Alaska’s borders, and Moms can now find BabyVend at airports and shopping centers in six states, including Alaska,
In this week’s Culture Rich Conversations, Christina Michelle, Sherry Patterson and Kelli Patterson talk with Smith about her company and how it launched her journey as an entrepreneur and business coach.
Culture Rich Conversations is produced by the Black Awareness Association of Juneau. It airs twice on Thursdays at 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. on KTOO Juneau 104.3. You can also listen online at ktoo.org.
Jasmin Smith says it’s never easy to start a new kind of business, but as a Black woman, there are simply more hurdles in winning the confidence of investors. On top of that, it was hard to convince them about the need for vending machines to dispense diapers and baby supplies. Also, starting a company in Alaska turned out to be a bigger challenge than she expected, because she was constantly fighting preconceptions about the 49th state as a difficult place to do business. But Smith says she eventually found support in some unexpected places.