Babiators Co-Founder Molly Fienning On How Pilot Parents Inspired Her Brand


Family photos: Molly Fienning

If you live in a sunny locale, chances are you've got a pair of Babiators, the UV-protective sunglasses that are both stylish and kid-friendly (read: nearly unbreakable). Co-founded by longtime friends and couples Molly and Ted Fienning and Carolyn and Matthew Guard, the brand was born on a South Carolina Marine Corps military base when Molly noticed all of the little ones sans protective shades — while their pilot mamas and papas sported cool aviator sunnies.

With backgrounds in the corporate world (Molly, Carolyn, and Matthew) and experience as a military pilot (Ted), the quartet set out to start the company of their dreams. The company was featured by Forbes as America's 100 Most Promising Companies of 2014, and they've since expanded to swim goggles and travel accessories.

We sat down with Babiators co-founder and FM global member Molly Fienning to learn ore about her typical work day, her favorite educational apps for kids, her current favorite brands for little ones and grown-ups, and much more.


Photo: Babiators

What do you do, and what has been your career journey thus far?

I am the co-founder and co-CEO of Babiators, the leading children’s sunglasses brand with over one million pairs sold and features on Us Weekly, People, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Vogue, E! News, Forbes, and more. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur (which I love and suits my personality well!), I worked in technology at IBM and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. 

What is the name and age of your little one?

We have two sons, Sawyer (5) and Fox (1).

What is a typical work day like for you, from the moment you wake up?

I work from home and get my best work done in the mornings. After my husband leaves to take the boys to school, I sit down at my desk with a large mug of coffee and try not to stop working until noon or 1pm. I reserve the afternoons for meetings, conference calls, picking my sons up for school, and general appointments. A few days per month, I try to make it to Atlanta to be with the Babiators team in person. Those days are non-stop meetings, where I’m trying to maximize face-time and productivity with each employee. 


What are your best tips for raising a child in your city?

Spend time outside exploring as much as possible. Charleston is a beautiful, warm climate so that’s easy here! 

Favorite organizational tools or apps that help you balance work/mom life?

It’s always good to have a few educational apps on one’s phone for your child to use in a pinch. Right now, my older son loves geography so I downloaded Stack The States and Stack The Countries. Fun for him, and informative.
Current favorite kids clothing brands?

KicKee Pants footie pajamas are soft, stretchy and adorable. I also love Zara Kids for my older son and Rylee & Cru for my baby. 

Current favorite grown-up clothing brands?

Here in Charleston, there is an amazing group of creative women doing and making beautiful things. Two of my new favorite brands are friends’ companies, Thelma loafers and Hart tassel earrings. I basically wear both every day. 

Beauty product you can't live without?

My good friend Jessica Morse of Bare Beauty introduced me to Vintner’s Daughter, an all-natural face oil that provides that morning glow we are all looking for. I’m obsessed.

Best advice for women who want to succeed in your field?

Persevere! As mothers, we all know that there is no quick fix to success. We’ve learned resilience as we love, care, and fight for our children. It is not dissimilar to a business. A million small decisions contribute to whether or not your business will thrive. Take that baby step directly ahead of you, and keep on trucking. 

Follow Babiators at @babiators and shop their sunnies, goggles, and more kids accessories online here.