How Lack of Sleep Led To a Million Dollar Business

With an old zip-up sweatshirt and a dust-covered sewing machine, I created a product that helps improve the sleep of families worldwide.

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Getty Images.
Getty Images.

It was a culmination of my two greatest passions, my faith and my family, that birthed the invention of the Zipadee-Zip. After the birth of my first daughter, I was faced with the harsh reality of going back to work — this meant that most, if not all, of my salary would go toward someone else watching our daughter while I was at work.  I remember praying every night so that I could find peace if I went back to work or a solution that would allow me to stay home with her. That prayer was answered when my daughter, Charlotte, stopped sleeping. 

Charlotte had been swaddled since birth, but she had started to push up and roll over, a normal function for developing babies, but a struggle for parents, because she could no longer be swaddled safely.  Without her swaddle, she REFUSED to sleep. The transition of going from being wrapped like a little burrito, her arms flailing everywhere, was too overwhelming for her. After doing some research, I discovered that a solution for swaddle transition did not exist. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I could imitate that feeling of the womb/swaddle, but still provide her with the freedom to push up and roll over, and that is when the Zipadee-Zip was born.  

I actually took an old zip-up sweatshirt and the dust-covered sewing machine I’ve had since the 8th grade, and created the very first Zipadee-Zip. Charlotte slept 12 hours that night. When we woke up before she did, we were terrified that my little contraption had killed her! I rushed into her room to discover her resting peacefully and safely. After making a few Zipadee-Zips for some friends, I discovered that other babies loved it too! 

It was then when I was faced with one of the biggest decisions of my life: should I take a leap of faith and turn this little invention into a business? Owning a business was something I never, in my life, considered doing.  I felt so ill-equipped and unprepared for the realities of entrepreneurship For one, I am a terrible seamstress and second, I had no clue how to build and design a website. It was the Bible verse Ephesians 3:20-21that made my decision for me and reminded me that I could rely on a strength and power other than my own.  So, I went for it. I spent $200 on fabric and another $500 on a little website and made live. I nearly passed out when I got an order. And, faster than I ever imagined, the orders started pouring in. It was a miracle from God that anyone bought them when I was sewing them myself because of how awfully they were sewn!  But babies were sleeping and moms were talking. One lady reached out to me and said, “These things must be sewn with unicorn hide and sprinkled with fairy dust for how well they work! It’s magic!” I got a chuckle out of that one! 

At one point, however, I hit a wall.  I was up until 2 or 3 in the morning every night sewing, packaging, answering emails and writing hand-written thank you notes to each customer.  My husband came to my rescue and convinced some ladies who worked at a local fabric store to help sew for me. That lifted a huge burden (plus their Zipadee-Zips looked way better than mine!) and it allowed me to focus on growing the business in other ways.  We finally saved enough up from sales to find a manufacturer and place larger orders. A little over 2 years into the business, we had done a million dollars in sales. That is when we decided to go on Shark Tank. There is something called “The Shark Tank Effect” that usually occurs when a business appears on the show.  It is when a business’ sales get artificially inflated for a period of time due to the incredible exposure the show provides. But our sales never really plummeted back down to normal like they do for many companies. We have, by the grace of God, continued to expand and grow. My husband and our incredible employees have been so integral in maintaining our growth and flexing and adjusting with the changes in the baby sleepwear industry.  Our amazing customers have become our Sleeping Baby family and have also made it possible for us to continue to grow. This journey hasn’t always been easy, but faith and family still remain the chore of why we do what we do. 

My daughter Charlotte, who inspired the creation of the Zipadee-Zip is now almost 9 years old and she still sleeps like a baby and so do I!

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