While they were on maternity leave together, best friends Kelly Oriard & Callie Christensen created the kind of toys they wanted their children to play with, ones that would help them to become caring, confident, and resilient children. They called them Slumberkins.
While they were on maternity leave together, best friends Kelly Oriard & Callie Christensen created the kind of toys they wanted their children to play with, ones that would help them to become caring, confident, and resilient children. They called them Slumberkins. Now four short years later, they’ve built a multi-million dollar children’s brand based on their experiences as passionate educators and moms. In this episode, we discuss trust and intentional branding with our first-ever duo!
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TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Developing a product that brings purpose and meaning
- What are Slumberkins and how are they interactive for parent and child to deepen the bond of connection together?
- Sometimes passion is more important than a business background.
- Learning to scale your business.
- How Kelly and Callie’s sports background helped translate to their business mentality and the concept of failure.
- Creating a strong brand from the beginning.
- Having a strong, emotional foundation will serve a lot of people during this moment.
- Children need emotional wellness building blocks at an early age.
- Transitioning a side hustle to a mission-based brand.
- The importance of engaging with your customers and your community.
- Millennials are the therapy generation.
- What happened when the duo went on Shark Tank.
- The Jim Henson Company and Slumberkins.
- “Fake it till you make it.”
- Storytelling is key when starting a business, especially an online one.
- Listening to and responding to consumer needs.
- Building a team and community within your business structure.
- Navigating relationships as friends and as business partners.
- Being Co-CEOs.
- Communicating your mission to a team to implement and excute.
- Women lead by leaning into intuition and being mindful on their growth and the growth of others.
(4:33) It was four and a half years ago now that we on maternity leave. And it was just us getting out, doing things, going on walks like we normally do. And we had this kind of creative moment of inspiration of talking about the children that we both worked with in the schools and then also looking at our newborn babies and feeling this moment of inspiration around what kind of interventions could be done before kids get to school in the world of emotional wellness that we were trying to support and work with on a daily basis with our students.
(6:30) We turned that $200 worth of fabric to sell at a local holiday craft fair. And we turned that into about $700. And then we just opened our first bank account and then just went from there.
(6:41) Despite not having any business background, we were so passionate about the idea and thought, why not us? Why couldn’t we do it? Look around, look at the people on Instagram that are selling and people that are doing thing. We have the background, we have this idea, let’s do it. Why not us?
(8:25) I had tried to pitch the storylines to publishing houses and book agents and just received polite, “no, thank you”. It was like, Oh man, but this needs to live on. And so even then when we both went back to work part time as educators, we still kept it going and which was a very intense looking back. I don’t know how we did it.
(9:30) So we’re kind of used to this ride of entrepreneurship through our experience in sports as well of just, there’s no failure really. You’re just learning constantly for this big win in the future. And I really think it translated to the mentality that we brought to the business.
(10:05) When we were thinking about the products that we would create as a brand, we wanted to create products that we ourselves wanted to use that we couldn’t find elsewhere. That was a kind of product that brought purpose and meaning and deeper connection between parent and child and created a really easy to use, approachable routine.
(10:30) Saying we are an intentional brand, it’s so much different than what you see. People have asked us, “aren’t you afraid of someone like Mattel or Hasbro knocking you off?” And we’re like, “I mean, they can try, but they’re not like moms and educators that are fueling everything they have into this product.
(12:10) Slumberkins is really about helping parents take that a step further to doing something for their children that maybe they didn’t hear explicitly out loud. And helping guide that whether they’re doing that internal work themselves or not, the messages are coming through for children. We think that that’s something really unique that nobody is doing at this point
(13:40) And then behind the scenes, we left our positions as educators when we got word that we were going to film Shark Tank. So that was another thing where it catapulted us into taking the business more seriously. It was the reason we took the time to really develop a brand platform, a big vision, really think bigger for the brand. And as soon as we were all in on that, it just, even having those own goals for ourselves, it helped us redefine what our goal was for the business.
(15:18) We’re in a co-production with the Jim Henson company to develop a preschool series based on our characters and Kelly and I are co-executive producers on the show. It’s definitely a pinch-me moment. Every time I say it, I can’t stop smiling about it. I know. It’s so exciting.
(17:10) Telling the story around the brand has been key for us. We bootstrapped the company to over 1.5 million before we took in any sort of outside funding.
(21:59) We had this real history of trust in each other and how we showed up for each other.
(25:06) Being questioned about being Co-CEOs was the thing that I think pushed us into having those harder conversations and diving into our self-work. And I’ll say, I love your platform, ,of finding your voice just because there have been so many times where Kelly, has had to shove me into stepping into myself and finding my own voice in our journey.
(26:50) It’s this concept of trust and shared power and making the implicit explicit, right? So we’re trying to do that with our product. We’re trying to do that for families. And if we as co-CEOs are not able to show up, to share power, to be explicit about what we’re being triggered by or what’s going on a little bit below the surface with each other and with what’s going on in our lives, then we’re not walking the walk of what we’re trying, trying to do in the world.
(28:20) Women do lead differently. And we very much fall in the idea of leaning into intuition, being very mindful and focused on our teams emotional wellness growth, our emotional wellness and growth and how that is connected directly to the work that they produce. Now in our case, it all connects together cause that’s what our product is about.
- Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
- Fred Rogers
- Brand Legacy