WACO – Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard celebrated their new venture on Tuesday just minutes from Beverly Hills.
No, not just Beverly Hills. The one outside of Waco.
The powerful Hollywood couple drew a small crowd to the south end of Waco as they opened the first production plant for their Hello Bello baby diaper brand.
Families walked through giant double doors to visit the building painted in bright purple, blue and yellow, an anomaly among other Waco industrial facilities. Locals received sweet tea and Vitek’s barbecue in food trucks as the kids raced through a row of bouncy castles and took turns riding a mechanical bull. Several groups performed throughout the afternoon, one of which performed a cover of Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile” under the title “Sara Marshall Smile” – a reference to Forget Sarah Marshall, the 2008 romantic comedy in which Bell starred.
“For a few liberal Communists, you’ve all really opened your arms, and we thank you for that,” Shepard joked before cutting a giant ribbon of interconnected layers to commemorate the opening of the 312,000 square foot facility. .
The factory makes Hello Bello the only traditional diaper brand that makes its own diapers, according to the founders. The company will receive $ 2.5 million in tax incentives from the City of Waco and McLennan County that are tied to creating jobs and maintaining a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.
The incentives require Hello Bello to create at least 110 jobs, but co-founder Sean Kane said he expects the site to eventually employ twice as many people.
Bell and Shepard founded the company in 2019 with co-CEOs Kane and Jay McGraw, sons of TV personality Dr Phil McGraw, as well as COO Jennifer Pullen. Kane is known to have founded Honest Co. with actress Jessica Alba. He and McGraw are also from Texas.
“I’ve grown up in Texas my whole life… and it’s amazing how the city has exploded,” McGraw said of Waco at the event.
The opening of the plant is the latest in a series of investments in the Waco area in recent years. Long known as a college town halfway between Dallas and Austin, the area has attracted investment from Dallas-based Topgolf Entertainment, additional investment to expand a nearby SpaceX facility as well as a new Amazon fulfillment center, without talk about Chip’s continued impact. and the business operations of Joanna Gaines.
“I think the world is watching Waco right now,” Waco Mayor Dillon Meek told employees, business partners and the community gathered at the Hello Bello opening event.
“Between 2020 and 2021, we announced more than 4 million square feet of new construction in McLennan County – a historic record for our region,” said Meek.
Hello Bello cited Waco’s proximity to raw materials and its centrally located shipping centers as the reasons he chose the city for his factory. He has invested around $ 31 million in space, renovating an old Domtar Personal Care to place.
The plant has already completed construction on one of its three production lines and expects the entire plant to be up and running in the “next few weeks,” said Rusty Able, diaper program director. for babies from Hello Bello. Each of the three production lines is capable of securing the liner, fenders and tie straps together to produce 800 diapers per minute.
Hello Bello has more than 160 employees in total, and some employees are moving from its Los Angeles headquarters to Waco’s facilities, which include offices, Kane said.
Jeff Sutton, 39, and his family are among those transplants. Sutton, who works in distribution for Hello Bello, said he had never seen himself living in Texas, but the opportunity to be a part of building a new business from scratch was enticing.
Like Kane’s other business, the independent diaper manufacturer takes a health and environment-conscious approach to its branding and business operations. The Hello Bello product line also includes wipes, toiletries, cleaning supplies and seasonal products.
Texas economist Ray Perryman said several factors are contributing to Waco’s growth prospects, the first and most obvious being the Magnolia businesses created by HGTV Gaines. Upper Fixator Fame.
Magnolia aux Silos has become “a phenomenon and has really turned Waco into a tourist destination,” he said.
A pre-pandemic study found that Magnolia was a catalyst for a 44.3% increase in the relative importance of tourism in the region. More than two-thirds of direct spending occurs in places other than Magnolia, such as hotels and restaurants, Perryman said.
And there are significant new real estate developments underway in the Baylor-Downtown-Brazos River area, including housing, retail, restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions.
Waco has always had a manufacturing base, including one of the largest Mars candy factories in the United States, and the student body at Baylor University has grown significantly in recent years to reach over 20,000 students, Perryman said.
Retail journalist Maria Halkias contributed to this report.