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About 15 years ago, Cynthia Lea Talley saw a nap bag and figured she could make them better, so she made a few; they featured the top and bottom sheets sewn together so they can be handled and washed as one piece rather than two. Then she set about a one-woman marketing effort, reports The Daily News.

I started by going to daycare centers at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning and setting up a card table with the nap bags on them,” said Talley. They sold.

Eventually, Talley found it necessary to contract the sewing out because she alone could not keep up with demand for the bags. Then she hired three full-time sewers and set them up inside her home, where she had more control over the finished products than she had with the contractors. The home-based enterprise lasted 13 years.

Two years ago, Talley moved the business out of her house, leased the three-suite Millennium Business Center space and installed primarily Juki professional sewing machines. She also brought all the sewing in-house.

Talley estimates that 90 percent of her sales – she doesn’t sell retail or through catalog – comes from the personal contact she makes with teachers and administrators attending education conferences. Each year she sets up a booth at seven or eight of the conferences nationwide.

Happi-Nappi makes and sells 30,000 to 40,000 items annually, but Talley sees the enterprise as more than just a supplier of bags.

“This is about giving people employment and a nice place to work,” she said. “My sewers can set their own schedules, which they do. Two of them work at night.

Photo by The Daily News.

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Originally posted by Rich Whittle on September 28, 2010 in Ideas.

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