Let go. I read that one of the ways entrepreneurs can fail is by having a lack of ability to let go and delegate responsibilities. That has always resonated so strongly with me. There was a time that I was running the entire business on my own. I did every single job because that was what needed to be done. As we grew, I had to be cognizant of my time and honoring the incredible capable people I worked with to be able to do their work.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hindi Zeidman. Hindi uses her knowledge of being a foster parent combined with her education to provide a platform for practitioners and parents to connect. It is her vision to see every single little one have an opportunity to flourish. Hindi was a Clinical Social Worker, with a specialty in infant mental health. She provided therapy and services for children and their families before founding The Ollie World. She first became immersed in the world of drug and trauma exposed infants in 2007 while working for the County of San Bernardino. She helped to establish SART locations throughout the county to address this specific demographic from the ages of 0 to 5.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My father ran his own business, so I saw a lot growing up and “business owner” was never a pathway I intended on walking down. It wasn’t until I was a single foster parent raising an infant that things changed for me.
I was taking care of an amazing infant, named Oliver, who was struggling with the basics of just eating and sleeping. I knew the benefits and importance of swaddling, so I purchased every swaddle on the market, but nothing worked for him. The swaddles available didn’t properly contain him, he overheated, and they didn’t provide the right amount of pressure on his torso and limbs. So, I set out to create a swaddle that Oliver needed and that is how I made the first Ollie. Once Oliver started using his Ollie, he started sleeping through the night, gaining weight, and catching up with missed developmental milestones. I saw the impact The Ollie had on him and that was the moment I knew I wanted to share it with little ones all over the world and thus my career path changed.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Since running my business, I have become a mom. That might not be interesting to some, but, while running a business, I endured the grief of multiple losses, as well as experiencing the life changing moment of having my daughter. There is not a template to describe how to properly juggle being pulled in two of the most important directions. So, my most interesting story has been my journey of navigating dual important and demanding roles in my life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It is probably funny now, but, at the time, funny is not the word I would use to describe the situation. Our swaddles are packaged in their own keepsake box and I placed an entire order with the wrong dimensions for the box. It wasn’t until they arrived at my door that I realized my large (literally) mistake.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Our foundation is rooted in the foster community, so giving back and bringing awareness is a huge part of what we do. We have always donated Ollies to foster infants who are drug and/or trauma exposed throughout our community. And, recently, we created a program to donate children’s masks to foster children. We were seeing that because of the pandemic, people were not willing to open their homes up to foster children, so they were left vulnerable and without a safe place to stay. We were inspired to create masks specifically for them, in the hopes they had their own sense of protection and security, and also with the hope that people would now be more apt to open their homes.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I would love to share a story about an amazing three month infant, named Ray. He has been consistently irritable. His foster-to-adopt mother was exhausted and attachment was waning. The mother was given an Ollie swaddle that we donated to a local SART center, and right there in the clinic, Ray calmed.
His mother exclaimed with tears in her eyes that she had never seen him stop moving and they had their first eye-to-eye contact. His mother said, “Since using the swaddle and learning what you are teaching me, he has begun to grow and is sleeping and learning new skills. You and The Ollie saved my life, I was so sleep deprived. Thank you.”
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
For a long time, there has been a belief that “babies are resilient” and while some of that is absolutely true, it discounts the effect that trauma, drug exposure, and neglect can have on both the baby and their brain. By the time a child is three years old, 85% of their brain is formed. So, the ages of 0–3 are critical in every single way. We need more programs, more funding, more awareness, more support to be brought to this age group and the families supporting these amazing little ones.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Let go. I read that one of the ways entrepreneurs can fail is by having a lack of ability to let go and delegate responsibilities. That has always resonated so strongly with me. There was a time that I was running the entire business on my own. I did every single job because that was what needed to be done. As we grew, I had to be cognizant of my time and honoring the incredible capable people I worked with to be able to do their work.
2. Pick your team. I work with great people. They are great and they inspire me to be better. They believe in what we do, they believe in our products, and they believe in my vision. I am committed to them, as they are committed to me. We not only walk through the hard times together, but we celebrate the wins too. Pick the people who are going to walk beside you through it all.
3. Don’t forget to look at the big picture. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the daily tasks and you can get too narrow of a vision because of that. Always make time to dream. Always make time to look at the big picture, which should encompass your greatest hopes and visions.
4. Give back. There is always a capacity to give. I made a commitment that when I started the company that I would always donate swaddles. Even when I had no sales, I donated. Always find a way to give of yourself and give to others.
5. Believe in what you do. When I first started no one would give me a chance or the time of day. People dismissed me and my product and said I would never make it or compete against larger brands. What kept me going was the belief in my product and my drive to make a difference in this world. There are still hard days, but I always come back to my “why”, which will always keep me going.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I mentioned before the importance of the timeframe of little ones from the ages of 0–3. I would love to bring awareness, program funding, and support for not only little ones, but also for the families raising them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My dad, who passed away several years ago, has always been my source of inspiration in both life and in business. He taught me to always “come from your heart” in all that you do, especially in business. When you come from your heart, it changes the conversation, it changes the motivation, and it changes the process.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Oh, that is an easy answer for me… Marcus Lemonis. He is an advocate for and supporter of small businesses, as well as for the community. He is a leader in creating businesses with purpose and I would love the opportunity to sit down and converse with him.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I share a lot of my life, both business and personal, on Instagram. You can reach me anytime at @theollieworld and you might even catch me dancing too.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!