SnuggleBugzzz — Plush Bed Bumpers that Children Love!
Katherine Johnson and Pamela Quintana created something cozy for your kids. SnuggleBugzzz™ are Plush Bed Bumpers that are “snuggly” bumpers designed to be a child’s much loved and trusted bedtime companion, but more importantly attach to their bed sheet creating a block to help keep them from rolling off the side of their bed and onto the floor! We also wrote and published a companion bedtime book called Silly Sweet SnuggleBugzzz Dreamzzz. We wanted to share their story with you and Katherine tells us how it all happened.
Mom Invented: What was your 'aha' moment when it came to starting your business?
Katherine: Hearing that “thump” in the night. As I scooped my son up off the floor and put him back in bed, I tucked pillows and his plush animals tightly around him and I wished they would stay in place giving him just enough block on the side of the bed to keep him from rolling off. I stayed awake all that night (and many thereafter) thinking instead of rails, what if there were plush animals (kids get so attached to their plush animals) that not only would help get him into bed, but his “pal” would remain by his side all night giving him an added sense of security!
Mom Invented: What process did you follow to develop a prototype?
Katherine: What moms do best… improvise! I used one of my son’s soft blankets, sewed it into a tube shape, stuffed it with bags of dry beans, bought Velcro from the craft store and attached the Velcro to the prototype and my son’s sheet. Anxiously I went to his room each morning and to my relief, he was in bed (not on the floor) AND the prototype was still securely in place!
Mom Invented: Were there any setbacks in product development that had to be overcome?
Katherine: Oh yeah! There was a big difference in what the manufacturer considered acceptable and kept sending and what we knew we wanted! We had a very specific look in mind and it took them five prototypes before we were satisfied. We considered looking for a new manufacturer, but they finally got it right and we didn’t have time to start new. There were weeks and months in between prototypes and that cost us missing our first trade show (and deposit monies). We barely made it to the ABC show and that really cost us as we had to expedite all our shipping both into the US and then to the show.
Mom Invented: What was the biggest learning curve in terms of developing your product?
Katherine: Never settle. Never settle. Never settle! We were the customer and had every right to expect the manufacturer to deliver to our specs. The manufacturer’s position was for us “not to get hung up on small details, they would be worked out with the next order”. We knew there would not be a “next order” if we couldn’t get our design right from the start! We stuck to our guns and insisted each time they got it wrong to do it again!
Mom Invented: What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing your product?
Katherine: We’re working with Pitch PR and no question has been the best marketing investment thus far. It’s hard to spend money while in the start up phase (the checks are going out faster than they are coming in) but necessary! Through Pitch we’re getting attention from media sources all over the country that we would never have gotten on our own!
Katherine: What was the biggest learning curve in terms of marketing your product?
Katherine: We launched at The ABC Kid’s Expo in Las Vegas last October and received invaluable feedback that likely saved us much time and money! We learned rather than market our SnuggleBugzzz as plush “toys”, to market them as plush “bed bumpers”. Everyone gets that!
Mom Invented: How much money have you invested so far? How do you feel about that?
Katherine: MORE than ever anticipated! We just focused on the cost of getting the SnuggleBugzzz made and that has turned out to be a fraction of our costs. Everything from trademarks and patents, insurance, travel, professional photography, print marketing materials, website design, etc… plus the costs of getting the book done! It all adds up in a big way so be sure you have the resources to go the distance (though having our heads in the sand a little may have been good as otherwise this all may have seemed too daunting)!
Mom Invented: What has been your greatest success or high point with your product or business?
Katherine: We were recognized by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), as one of the “Top 50 New Products” in their 2010 Innovation Awards Competition! Also, walking into stores and bookstores and seeing our products on the shelves is exciting, but the most rewarding is seeing the huge smile on a child’s face as they hug their SnuggleBugzzz and hearing their giggles as we read them “Silly Sweet SnuggleBugzzz Dreamzzz”!
Mom Invented: Have you experienced a low point in business? If so, how did you get back on track?
Katherine: One of our biggest frustrations is not knowing how to get information about our products to retailers! Short of going to trade shows and advertising in trade magazines, it’s tough!
Mom Invented: Who has been your biggest source of inspiration? What keeps you going?
Katherine: I love to read stories of other successful women entrepreneurs like the many great profiles in Secrets of Millionaire Moms: Learn How They Turned Great Ideas into Booming Businesses--and How You Can Too! It’s reassuring knowing our battles are not uncommon! Any grand visions we had of being an overnight success have been replaced with a much more realistic attitude of keeping it fun, working hard and remaining completely committed!
Mom Invented: What advice would you offer other moms developing their products/ideas?
Katherine: No one is good at everything, success is collaborative! Ask for help! Don’t be intimidated. Situations that now may be uncomfortable will soon become natural. If you can imagine a need, YOU can be the one to find a way to meet it!
Thank you Katherine for sharing your story! Click here to learn more about SnuggleBugzzz.
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