Hi! I'm Dane Carlson, and welcome to the Business Opportunities Weblog. I've been publishing this website, by myself, and sometimes with the help of others for over twelve years now. You'll notice two things about this site right away:
If you’ve ever been out while pushing a baby in a stroller, then you probably know what it is like to try and help them fall to sleep or stay asleep. While you could always drape a coat or blanket over the stroller to help keep the sun out and help your child sleep, it is no means a perfect solution.
Cara Sayer faced a similar problem while out with her baby. In hopes of helping her baby stay asleep while they were out with the stroller Cara would always try to drape something over the front to help block out the sun. The only problem was, they never liked to stay in place. It was from that experience the SnoozeShade was born.
Anyone in the UK that purchases the SnoozeShade before January 31st of 2010 will receive a 10% discount with free P&P.
Tell us a little about the Snoozeshade.
SnoozeShade is the UK’s, and possibly the world’s, first blackout blind for prams and pushchairs. It has been designed to help baby sleep when napping in a pram. It is a secure alternative to draping blankets, pegging muslins or hanging coats over a pram when baby is napping. It is a compact and portable shade that can be popped in a handbag or kept in a buggy basket to be used whenever it’s needed. It is a universal fit; so far we haven’t found a pram or pushchair with a hood that it doesn’t fit. It can also be used on rear-facing car seats with hoods and works on twin and triplet strollers too. A double-hood buggy version is in the pipeline.
What inspired it?
When I first had my daughter, I didn’t want to be stuck at home all the time and she slept easily anywhere when she was really tiny. As she got older, she became more alert and, as a parent, I wanted to ensure that she stayed asleep for as long as possible even if I was away from home – otherwise I’d have a grumpy child. Sometimes it’s necessary to try and help babies switch off as they find the outside world so fascinating it stops them from dozing. On occasions I have been pushing the pram on a cold day with my coat draped over it to ensure my baby stayed snoozing and all it took was a sharp kerb and the coat fell off waking the baby. Or we’ve been in a restaurant on holiday and draped blankets and towels over the pram to block out the world as much as possible so as not to disturb her. I mentioned how annoying it was that there didn’t seem to be anything on the market to help babies sleep in their pushchairs to some friends and I must have mentioned it a few times as they ended up telling me to invent something if it bugged me that much. So I started to think about what it would look like and it started from there.
Have you considered expanding your product sales outside of the UK?
Yes. Babies need to sleep wherever they are in the world.
What are some of the lessons your business has taught you?
Don’t always take what other people say as fact and do listen to people even if you don’t like what they are saying. Feedback of all kinds is very important. Have faith in your own idea. I knew deep down that this was a product that would make my life and the lives of other mums easier so there was a value to doing it. People have, in the main, been positive about my idea but, when someone has disagreed, it has really helped me make changes to the product which I might not have thought of. Also, try and work with people you like and admire whenever possible. Finally, networking is vital. There are some amazing resources available for people with ideas particularly women. I’ve found www.mumsclub.co.uk, www.shesingenious.org and www.everywoman.com to be amazingly supportive and helpful places to talk about ideas with other women doing the same sort of thing.
There are plenty of sunshades out there which block most of the bright light and sun rays, but most of them focus on the fact that baby can see out. With a lot of them, you need to plan when to take them out with you as they are quite cumbersome. SnoozeShade is compact and highly portable and blocks out virtually all visual stimuli. It creates a shady, well-ventilated environment in which baby can snooze and is intended to replace some of the homemade measures we parents use to try to keep babies asleep in their prams. It also has a built-in sun protection factor (SPF) so if it’s a sunny day you can keep baby under cover safely.
What was the design process like? How long, from start to finish, would you say it took for you to completely design the Snoozeshade into the product it is today?
It took about 18 months from beginning to end. The design process started with me making a rather shambolic fabric prototype but, once I took it to the company which is manufacturing it , SnoozeShade started to look like a ‘real’ product.
What are some ‘rejected’ ideas that you might have considered including in it?
I haven’t really rejected anything on the way other than the original colour which was white. I’ve actually added more new features almost every step of the way. Even after I exhibited it at a baby trade show, the product evolved in at least three different ways.
Have you always considered yourself to be entrepreneurial?
Not really. I’ve always secretly wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’m a big fan of Dragon’s Den and have always admired people who just get out there and trust in their own ideas. I never thought I had a good enough idea or, if I did, I didn’t pursue it. This has been the first time that I’ve just jumped in and gone for it. I think it helps being a bit older; it actually feels like I have less to lose – if it hadn’t worked that would be annoying but what would have been worse was if someone else had gone to market with a similar product and I’d not even tried.
What goals do you still hope to accomplish with your product?
I’d just like the list of retailers who stock SnoozeShade to keep growing and to move into international markets. I have a few other ideas for products that I think will make mums’ lives easier. One thing I have thought of is that I’d like to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month and do version of SnoozeShade with a pink trim – something for next year when it’s more established.
Do you have any tips that you’re willing to share with fellow inventors and mom entrepreneurs?
Have faith in your own idea and listen to other people’s belief in you too. My husband and mother both pushed me into attending the trade show that started me off on the path to a serious business enterprise.