How Kelly Buller of Austin Baby Collection Finds Beauty in Balance
A conversation about creating a line of modern, sustainable and thoughtfully-crafted products for children as ABC celebrates their third anniversary
Few minutes into our interview, we knew Kelly Buller was the type of woman many of us aspire to be. She’s comfortable and confident, yet still humble. She wears a million hats with out holding resentment — because she loves her life, her family and her business. By how she described her journey into motherhood and business ownership, we could tell she didn’t make excuses for herself or others, which is probably why she is where she is today.
She grew up in Rhode Island but went to college at Auburn because she wanted to attend a football school. There she studied radio, television and film, which led her to Los Angeles after graduation. Her first job out of college was working for Adam Sandler — as his right-hand woman and production assistant, doing everything from taking his dog for a walk to contributing to marketing materials to assisting on set. She worked for Adam through six movies. And then — as one does — Kelly fell in love. She and Brett (her now-husband) met through a mutual friend while visiting Las Vegas.
“What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” says Kelly. Brett lived in Austin, and Kelly eventually found a job in events and production for the Circuit of the Americas so she could move here to be with him. She helped build out the amphitheater and bring the X Games to Austin.
In 2019, she had her first son, Hudson. As a new mother, her priorities and curiosities shifted. She wanted to purchase safe products for her son while maintaining some sense of her own style.
“I started to see a need in the market for products that were functional and aesthetically appealing and non-toxic,” she says. “At the time, there really wasn’t much in the space.”
Austin Baby Collection began when Kelly started designing non-toxic mealtime products for babies in the pump room and on the weekends. At that time, she was still the marketing director for Austin nonprofit The Trail Foundation. But when she secured distribution for ABC products at Targets nationwide, Kelly decided to leave that position and start working on her business full-time. This was August 2020 — in the thick of COVID, and while Kelly was also raising her then one-year-old son.
“ABC was my second baby,” says Kelly. “I think all moms really relate to the balancing act, and starting your own business is seven days a week.” Even though starting ABC was a huge responsibility and came with a learning curve, much like becoming a mom, it did give Kelly control over her own schedule and trajectory. “Aside from wanting better products for my son, I wanted more flexibility as a mother by being my own boss. I got more work in exchange, but at least I can do it on my time.”
Between 2019 and 2022, Kelly also went through two miscarriages before becoming pregnant with her second son — “so four pregnancies, two babies, and one business,” she says.
Needless to say, she was dealing with a lot of changes and uncertainty. Because of what she went through, she realizes the value of having a supportive community for new moms, something she aims to do with ABC. Through social media, they’ve also built up a massive community of moms (about 20K on Instagram) seeking more balance and beauty.
Most of these women live in Austin, and the group helps inform ABC’s new products and designs. These women are thinking about the food and products they’re giving their children. Kelly shares meal prep tips and recipes (those she uses for her own boys) on the ABC Instagram account. For almost the first three years of ABC, they didn’t spend any money on marketing. “It’s all word-of-mouth mom community,” says Kelly.
In addition to the original silicone bento boxes, ABC now also creates lunch boxes, bibs and placemats from high-quality materials. ABC is now sold online at Target, Nordstrom, Amazon and their own website. They’re also in Container Stores nationwide, and the retail opportunities continue to grow. It’s no wonder — with ABC’s charming designs by ABC’s freelance designer, Emma Paige Brooks. “She has been my right-hand woman on all things design,” says Kelly. “She hand-paints the illustrations to create the design, giving us a unique hand-painted watercolor vibe.”
Kelly believes that moms can get more pleasure out of everyday tasks when the products are high-quality and beautiful. “The mundane task of packing lunch every single day can be more enjoyable if you use products that you genuinely like to look at.”
They also prioritize sustainability, using organic and natural materials whenever possible. Amid the messiness of being a parent, ABC provides a little dose of daily joy in its clean, functional products.
There’s a lot of talk about balance. Balancing work and life, balancing healthy choices with indulgent ones, and balancing being a parent with maintaining your sense of self. Kelly Buller doesn’t believe there is any such thing as balance. What she does believe is giving love equally to all the things you want to grow in your life.