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One Proud Toddler Founder Jihyun Chon: Simplifying Parenting On-the-Go

One Proud Toddler Founder Jihyun Chon: Simplifying Parenting On-the-Go

From Fashion to Potty Training, Jihyun’s Journey to Creating the Potty Proud Seat

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We first discovered Jihyun in the most flattering way; she shared a Reel on @oneproudtoddler showing how her genius product fits easily inside a Kibou. Beyond the flattery that she loved our bag, we were beyond excited to discover the Potty Proud Seat. I mean, look at this brilliance:

Proud Toddler Product

So we reached out to see if we could collaborate. It seemed like Kibou + One Proud Toddler was a perfect match! And, as with every female entrepreneur we meet, we had to know more about her story. Here’s that conversation.

Nell: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Jihyun. We’re excited to learn more about you! You and your husband started One Proud Toddler together. What was it like to start a business with your husband?

Jihyun: Thank you so much for having me for this interview, I’m so excited to be here! It was and has been great!  When we started the company, I had recently been a stay at home mom after working in fashion in New York and Shanghai, was ready to get back work and starting our own company seemed like a fantastic opportunity to do that. We of course have our disagreements at times, but Ryan and I cover different areas of the business that we feel cater to our strengths and it’s fun for me to see what he does, for him to see what I do and for us to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other.  Starting our own business has also provided us the opportunity to spend more time around our children compared with a typical office job.  We definitely work more hours, but there is more flexibility about when the work gets done. 

N: Your story feels so familiar to me. How did the idea for the Potty Proud come to you?

J: It came to us when potty training our oldest son, who is now eight years old. We tried a few folding seats with him and just couldn’t find a seat that had anywhere close to the functionality we were looking for.  Everything we tried was bulky, seemed pinchy, had rib structures on the underside that made them difficult to clean, wasn’t paired with a functional carry bag and seemed to either be difficult to attach to the toilet or not very effective at preventing slipping. So we set out to make one ourselves.

N: Innovative products are often said to “disrupt an industry.” How do you feel about disrupting the potty training industry?

J: I’m not sure if we’ve disrupted it just yet, but that is definitely our goal!  We feel that there is a space in the market for high quality, innovative, Made in USA potty training products and that so many of the ones out there just haven’t been really that well thought through. We’re hoping to fill that gap and the Potty Proud Seat is the cornerstone of a suite of potty training products we are in the process of developing. 

Baby seated on the Potty Seat

N: How did you go about beginning to develop your potty seat? What was your process and how long did it take?  (How did it go from an idea to a product in the market?)

J: It took us nearly two years to develop and launch the product although we started developing the product right as COVID hit which unfortunately slowed us down especially when many of our vendors were temporarily shut down and/or unable to meet in person.  

When we set out to make the product, we first made some very clumsy mockups, even some using cardboard and duct tape! As things progressed, we started building out the product in a CAD program and then had progressively more detailed and functional 3D printed models made.  One cool thing about 3D printing is that we were able to make models of individual seat components to test out different iterations before finalizing them (for example, we had numerous hinge models made so that we could find a curvature that wouldn’t grab and pinch skin). 

After the model was finalized, we had injection molds made for it and started testing those. Injection molding is part art and part science and getting things right took a while. The first samples of our product out of the molds looked more like pinchy pretzels than potty seats! It was an all hands on deck situation from my husband and I at that point, so we looked all over the country for specialist plastics engineers and plastics chemists to help us and, after a few modifications to the molds and experimenting with different resins (there are actually thousands of different grades of polypropylene), we finally got it right.  

N: What was the hardest part of launching the Potty Proud Folding Potty Seat?

J: Dealing with suppliers! We were committed to making this product in the United States and while there is a developed injection molding industry in this country getting a great factory took A LOT of effort.  The best companies are dealing with huge accounts–companies like Boeing and Tesla–and finding the right molder and then convincing them that our potty seat project was worth their time was a pretty dispiriting experience when we first set out.  The great molders thought we were too small and the not-so-great molders, well they weren’t so great!  Eventually, we found the right one and were able to bring the product to market.

N: What were you doing before this? What convinced you to take the leap? 

J: I worked in sourcing and manufacturing when I was much younger and then in the fashion industry after getting my masters degree from FIT in New York.  My husband was a corporate lawyer but had previously worked in supply chain when he was younger.  We had always wanted to start our own business and decided that it was now or never with our children still being young.

Potty seat and its bag

N: Do your children know that you created the potty seat –any stories of their recognition of their boss mom or the family business?

J: They absolutely know!  We call our oldest, the “Original Proud Toddler”–he was so helpful in giving us feedback on the product during the development process and even helps us today with things like taping shut cartons and placing UPC stickers on boxes.  We definitely get a laugh when picking our daughter up from preschool and the first question she asks is “are you making potty seats?”


N: Your website is full of free potty training resources, from your Real Life Potty Training Stories Series to reward printables. How did you guys find yourselves as the potty training experts?

J: When developing this product our goal was also to provide parents with resources they could use in conjunction with the potty seat. We understand that every child and parent's potty learning journey will look a bit different and so we set out to capture that with our Real Life Potty Training Stories Series.  We aren’t potty training experts ourselves, but we are fortunate to work with many potty training consultants who are!

N: What’s your #1 piece of advice for potty training parents or those getting ready to potty train?

J: Potty training is a big milestone and also probably the first major learning exercise in your child's life. Know that mistakes will happen and make it part of the plan to learn from those mistakes by turning them into learning opportunities. And just like any other learning exercise, consistent and focused practice makes perfect!

Jihyun showing her product


N: We have to know! How did you discover Kibou, and how can we work together to make this parenting-on-the-go thing easier? 

J: I think it was a post on social media–the Instagram algorithm must have known exactly what I was missing!  Since I’ve known about Kibou, I’ve always thought about it as a staple brand for minimalist diaper bags which is why I purchased mine after the birth of my second child. 

Our products are definitely complimentary, especially with your classic Kibou bag!  We’ve heard from a fair number of moms who are placing our seats in your bags, which is actually what led me to do a social media post on it.  Both products definitely help with the on-the-go aspect of parenting.

Kibou + Potty seat

N: Any fun Kibou stories? (e.g. an unexpected place you used it, an unexpected item–besides a potty seat :) –that you’ve put in it?)

J: At some point in my toddler daughter’s life, she was very interested in mommy’s Kibou bag and kept taking it away to carry for herself. I thought it was super cute and let her carry it around for a while with her favorite things in them. She chose random stuff and called them cell phones, wallets and keys. She is definitely watching mommy and her stuff. It was absolutely adorable!

N: And finally, we have to ask: what’s in your Kibou right now?

J: Kibou is perfect for carrying my everyday necessities when I’m on-the-go with my two kids. As my youngest gets older and now goes to preschool, the ratio of my kids' necessities to mine is slowly changing–more of my stuff finally gets a chance to come along with me. I love how the Kibou bag is for every style and seamlessly matches my outfit whether we’re going to the playground or to a casual business meeting.

Inside her Kibou

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