In 2019, Hollywood actress Kristen Bell and her husband, presenter and podcast host Dax Shepard, co-founded the baby care brand Hello Bello. And in April 2022, the brand officially launched in the United Kingdom after enjoying success in America and Canada. The products include everything from nappies to wipes, bubble bath and lotion and are available to buy exclusively from ASDA with prices ranging from £1.60 to £12.
"We had our children and were going to boutiques in Los Angeles and New York and buying all this premium baby care stuff and I was really strict and informed about what we put on and near our kids," Kristen tells us at the Hello Bello launch in London. "And it occurred to us that we're both from very working-class families in Detroit, Michigan and we were recklessly spending money - because we're overpaid actors - not looking at the receipts and buying all these wonderful premium products, and isn't it a shame that our friends and family in Michigan don't have the ability to afford or access these kinds of products?"
And with the help of their two co-founders and "some of the best people in the business", they decided to create Hello Bello. But does the UK really need another baby brand? According to Kristen and Dax, yes.
"There are a ton of people doing great work in the baby space," Kristen says. "But the hole in the market we saw was accessibility and affordability while keeping the premium ingredients, so that was our goal."
"You're asking people who clearly - if given the choice - would want their products to be as organic and healthy as possible but are on a super tight budget," Dax adds. "It just feels like an unfair question to ask people."
The couple has achieved this with Hello Bello by - in their own words - "leveraging ourselves forward-facing so much to get the economy of scale."
"I work with a lot of nonprofits all throughout the USA that works with kids on or below the poverty line and seeing what caregivers, mothers and fathers have to go through, where they're actually ringing out diapers and using them a second time, just felt so unacceptable to me," Kristen says. "No one should have to choose between their baby or their budget."
It's clear that Hello Bello is much more than another string to their bow for the married couple. Dax is clearly passionate about the brand being affordable - "For me, as a blue-collar kid from Detroit, the kids I grew up with have to be able to buy this for their babies, period." - while for Kristen, it's all about the sustainability.
"The products have to have the healthiest ingredients, they have to be scientifically researched. You have to tell me why that's allowed to be in a baby product because their immune systems are more tender," she says firmly. "We wanted to make sure that all of those points were hit."
Sustainability runs heavily throughout the brand, with Hello Bello wipes created from plant-based cloth and the nappies made using a (TCF) fluff pulp from sustainably managed forests with a plant-derived core liner.
"The diapers are second to none and the absorbency is off the charts," Kristen says proudly. "Our daughters were still in diapers when we started this company and we tested it on them and the feel is just like cloth."
Along with being budget-friendly and sustainable, Kristen and Dax were keen Hello Bello represented them and parents everywhere.
"Having been new parents and been exposed to all of these mommy groups and baby sites and products, there was nothing as irreverent or comedic as we would want it to be, so creating a community where it was safe to badmouth your kids for a second or talk about the how hard it is, was really important," Kristen explains.
"A lot of other stuff felt unachievably aspirational," Dax says. "We're like, 'Wait, you're changing a diaper in the cloud? Everything's white! How the f**k are you doing that?"
"Yeah, it was not the amount of preciousness we experienced sleep training our children, bleary-eyed," Kristen agrees. "We wanted something that felt more authentic to us, which is why our ads and marketing are really goofy."
Parents to daughters Lincoln and Delta, when they welcomed their eldest daughter in 2013, Kristen and Dax approached parenting very differently.
"I had the unique experience of being very involved in my six and a half-year-old younger sister's rearing," Dax remembers. "So I went into it with a ton of arrogance. I didn't have much fear about it right or wrong."
"I had all the fear," Kristen admits. "When they put the baby in the car and let us leave the hospital, I thought 'Wait wait wait, it's in the car, but you're not coming with us? It's in the back seat right now and you want us to leave? And it's mine now?"
"I was like, 'Let's get this little f****r home! It's party time!'" Dax grins. Thinking back, he adds: "I think the thing that maybe surprised me is we have been around so many other people's kids. And I couldn't stand being around them - they're so loud and messy. I was delighted to find out that it has never bothered me with our own kids, we're constantly dealing with the most epic mess. That was my big relief. I was afraid that I'd be perpetually annoyed until they were 12."
Parenting together is something the pair admit they've had to work at. "We're both very opinionated and we're both very stubborn. So the compromise of how we're going to try to do this has required the most amount of work, more than the parenting itself has," Dax explains.
"We've learned a lot. Like the trial and error of 'Okay, this child wants to talk ad nauseam about this problem' and - I think - the right way is to sit down and listen to her, even if it's for six hours, to let her have all of her emotions about it," Kristen says. "Whereas Dax's might be 'Let her have it for two minutes and then say, 'and now it's the point where you need to let it go.' It's figuring out when that works and also compromising and realising which child that works for and which it doesn't."
As for their favourite things about parenting, Dax is quick to tell us his.
"Our nine year old rides a motorcycle and riding behind her is a euphoria I didn't think was possible on planet Earth," he says smiling. "Just watching her do it well, and have fun is an out of body experience for me. I bet it'd be if they ever sang professionally or something for you?" he asks Kristen.
"Yeah," she agrees. "How narcissistic is it that we want them to have each of our personal skill sets?"
When we ask what their top advice for new parents would be, Dax borrows his mother's instead. "My mom said, 'You're gonna drop your kid off at kindergarten and every kid there's going to be potty trained. Every kid there will walk. By the time you drop them off, everyone knows how to do everything. Don't worry about the timeline'."
"Get to know the person in front of you," Kristen adds. "You don't need to compare yourself to how other people are doing it."