I am super excited to welcome my first UK guest on the podcast today — Cara Sayer is the founder of SnoozeShade, the world’s best-selling range of sun and sleep shades. Cara talks about her extensive career in marketing, PR and event planning (and how being an inventor was not on her career plan). However, she had a need that she filled — her and her friends wanted something to cover their babies and block out the sun while they were in the stroller. Since there was nothing on the market, she made it happen!
We then dive into some personal aspects of her life that I really appreciated — including struggles to conceive, divorce, breaking down and taking a step away. She also talks to me about shame and how she is a big fan of changing the way we speak about those who need to seek mental health and medication, which I feel is so refreshing to hear. We pivot to chat about why she focuses so much on safety (and how she’s not willing to compromise on it), why she thinks competition is good and how COVID affected her this last year. We finish with her talking about how she built her tribe in the industry and what I means to her.
Cara was such a fun guest, I loved how open and honest she was about a lot of things people glaze over when talking about their entrepreneur story. Plus, for all those looking for a perfect gift for mamas, THIS IS IT! Make sure to give her a listen below, check out her site and Instagram!
SnoozeShade is the world’s best-selling range of sun and sleep shades.
Run by Cara, the mom who invented it, safety and customer satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do.
Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first have no idea how you give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Brown, and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle even as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans, terrifying and totally bizarre, from health insurance report to successful newborn and family photographer, all of the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn in tow. And I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate festival for doing it all. Welcome back everybody to another episode of amidst the chaos, I am here this week with an incredible founder of an incredible company that I guarantee is going to solve problems for any of you listening because she is right in our wheelhouse of moms who are looking to solve problems so welcome Cara, how are you I’m very well thank you how are you?
Cara: I’m doing great
Dana: So I just want you to introduce yourself and tell us exactly what your company does so that when we back all the way up to the beginning of your story people kind of know where the finish line quote unquote is so they can kind of understand so tell us exactly what your company does.
Cara: Okay, so I was a mom who wanted her daughter to sleep when we were out and about, so I wanted her to get good healthy naps, whilst we were out of the house. And so I entered my first product back in. Well Scott Walker says 2008 and launched in 2010, and the business is called snoozeshade because it helps me be snooze and it shades. The Sun and other elements so yeah it’s kind of a does what it says on the tin kind of name.
Dana: Yes and if you can’t tell everyone from listening, Cara is actually our first international guests. Well, I guess Canada technically counts, but she’s the first one from across the pond so I am so excited to have us all the way over there in Europe so we’re gonna have some questions about that too as we as we talked about this but here start from the beginning I know you obviously said you’re a mom looking for a solution but talk to us about how you first off, got to that point where you working full time, what did your life look like before SnoozeShade became a reality.
Cara: So before SnoozeShade I actually had quite a successful career in marketing and public relations event management that sort of thing. So I’d actually worked on things like the launch of eBay and Amazon in the UK in a few years prior. I gave up my career basically to get pregnant because, unfortunately, I was getting a bit older, and it was becoming a little bit more difficult to get pregnant. And so we ended up, undergoing IVF, and we’re very lucky, Holly was our first for an IVF cycle and she was our miracle baby. Fortunately I had a horrendous pregnancy because of the fact that I had this condition, which is called symphysis pubis dysfunction or known as SPD, and basically it’s where your body produces too much relaxing, which is the hormone that allows your body to stretch in order to baby to grow, etc. And so I basically had to be in a wheelchair, I was in a wheelchair for about nine months. And so, wow. Yeah, and they sort of told me like soon as soon as you have the baby, the hormones will go back to normal you like bounce out of bed anyway I had Holly, and that was very far from the case so I it took me about three months to learn how to walk again, actually had to learn how to walk because I’d sort of through, not being able to walk properly etc I sort of ended up walking into like a crab so I had to learn how to walk forward again, rather than slightly stuff but shucks.
Dana: Oh my gosh,
Cara: I know it’s weird isn’t it. So, I was once I was up and about unable to walk, I was just so grateful. It’s funny when you have something taken away from you that you take for granted. It makes you feel a lot more grateful I think and so I was out there with the what we call prams and strollers, across the hall Yes, translate where I can we speak the same language but with the little internet you know little differences. Yes, and I basically went out with a stroller and I used to get down to the shops, and I would be like, you know, go buy stuff learned that I bought her to kind of go and buy something for dinner and then walk home and I was just so excited to be out there. And then, you know, whether I used to do a lot of parents do as I used to sort of put a blanket over the pram or I put my coat over the friends this was sort of January, February and I wanted her to stay cozy, so I was freezing and my coke fall off and my Australian would roll over, etc. As you know, and I just thought this is a pain. And then, as I say got it as she got a little bit older, I remember there was this one time, which is kind of that sort of cognitive moment I suppose, where there was about five or six of us who are in a group and we all had babies the same age and we all sort of fed the babies, and then everyone did the same thing. Maybe it was in a stroller and they’re like putting a pashmina or muslin or a blanket or something over the pram, it was a bit like sort of putting birds to sleep in the cage, you know, and I just thought this is ridiculous. Surely there must be something out there that’s like a sort of outline, but, you know, like we have them in the nursery to the windows, and something that you could use that would be similar. Crap, I was always very well known by my friends as being a very good Googler so if you know if there was something to be found, I would be able to hunt it down and find it. But I was just trying everything, and I don’t still to the state really, no. I mean, I was telling this story to somebody the other day and my mom was with me and I didn’t really know why I did it with your board, and I was like,
Dana: I’ll take that.
Cara: Yeah, because I think that was quite bored, having come from kind of a busy corporate career, you know, and I sort of I think initially I thought I wanted to just be something to keep me busy so I sort of started to work on it developed it got in touch with a manufacturer who I used to work with in a previous job, but I knew that they made baby products and I’m safety obsessed. I knew that they were super safe and that they knew all safety guidelines, etc. And so I started investigating it developed it and then it kind of took to a bit of a back seat. I went through another round of IVF which was sadly unsuccessful. And I think had a bit of postnatal depression and all that sort of stuff, and so it took a while and then. So towards the end of 2009 There was a big show that was on in London, and it was for the trade baby product trade and I kind of thought well I can either go do something like that, or I go do something like Shark Tank, you know we have Dragon’s Den in the UK. Okay, so I decided that actually I’d rather go to a trade show where I would meet people who were kind of at the coalface of like, you know, meeting parents and maybe understood better what parents wanted didn’t want that sort of thing. So you know, all in all, I just I booked to this standard, and it was quite funny because my mom and my mom was also an event organizer and I was a former event organiser, so you think we would have this amazing stat but we had no money to invest today I was great dreading it. Literally, just to kind of test the concept. So we went there and you know, I mean my mom always laughed, because I had bird poo on the hood of the stroller, and she’s there likely to get off with a baby. And I decided to sew on some extra straps in the middle of dress before I went to the show so I was hand sewn those on. So I’m sort of standing there, show going oh yes you know it could be amazing quality lalala, And then and then and then actually the strap was picking off, you know, so it was quite a comedy of errors really it was quite funny, but I did have an awful lot of positive feedback, I had one of our major UK retailers placed an order on the spot and just for how long it’s been. And I had to deliver by February, this is I ended up submitting October, and I was like oh yes, no, that’s fine I mean hadn’t even done the packaging hadn’t finalized the product for goodness sake, you know. And then, then I started stalking other retailers and once one retailer goes for it then the rest of them tend to follow suit so I sort of by the time I went into launch mode I had, You know quite good assortments of retailers on board, and yes so I launched, I launched with one product, which was the version for basically not six months kind of a flatline prams was where babies are not sitting up when they’re lying flat so it can be used as a canopy over the top to completely protect them from the sun, or it can also be added to reduce asleep as well so it’s kind of dual purpose, and then it just kind of grew from there really. I mean, the first year, I sold out my first round of product. And then I started listening to other parents, and like they were asking what kind of have this kind of do this kind of do that so you kind of have one thing for Cassie kind of have one for when my baby is sitting up or wants to look out, it was a bit all a bit overwhelming, so I went through another round of IVF. In March, April, I think it was the year I launched, and then I actually had a complete nervous breakdown literally like Joe was saying, you know, no joke, but I literally had a nervous breakdown and my mom had to move in and look after me and my daughter for several months and that was a sort of probably a combination of many things, partly probably the level of hormones I was dealing with plus climbing that wasn’t going to be having any more children. So there was that grieving process to go through, plus the business was really so super successful right from the word go they ate really exhausting, you know, this is one of the things I see a lot with startups is there’s an awful lot of adrenaline involved, and you can only run on adrenaline for so long before your body starts to go boy, stop that you need to have a break and I do really believe that, you know my breakdown was just literally due to my body telling me to stop. Please stop. And if you won’t stop, we’ll stop you. So that was quite challenging and that is one thing that I have learned over the last, I mean I’ve been in business now 11 years, and I’m although I have a moment so we were just chatting before I started the podcast about the fact that I’m incredibly exhausted because I was working until two o’clock in the morning and I have been for about the last week and a half. That’s not normal, and that’s the good thing is that I have learned to take it easy as a general rule, I think there’s a certain level of drive when you run a business and when you, you know, you do something like invent a product and take to market that you’ve obviously got something in you that takes you from A to B, right fast and I, you know, the things I’ve been working on the last few weeks were very customer focused which I’m obsessed with I’m obsessed with keeping our customers happy, and to the detriment of keeping myself safe. I think sometimes you know, but I don’t, I would rather be like that.
Dana: So, absolutely.
Cara: So basically, I just carried on, I had 22 distributors, by the time I built a business I believe yours. You know it was selling all around the world. But then, unfortunately, my marriage broke down and 2014, and I realized that although the visits look great on the outside, actually it wasn’t massively financially viable in terms of it was okay. Don’t get me wrong, but it was you know, but it wasn’t going to really support me and I don’t mean in the style I’d like to be accustomed to, there was no, no fast cars or flash, private, because it was a difference between sort of, you know, worrying about every penny versus Yes, quite relaxed about the fact that you’ve got money coming in reasonable level. And I just realized that, unfortunately the way I’d set the business up which was very much like your typical retail business which was mainly around bricks and mortar businesses, was that the margins were too small, and I couldn’t really afford to run the business the way it was so I got rid of all the distributors think I still like wow Freeland and I’ve got one in public I think that’s actually it. And then I decided to investigate Amazon and selling on Amazon because my products were bestsellers on Amazon right from the word go in the UK, but obviously I could serve as people in the US and Canada and Australia as well, using Amazon without me having to have these distributors in place which meant that I could keep my prices, you know, I’ve never raised my prices, you know my best selling product has never raised in 11 years, even though my because I’ve tried to always keep it at that level, and I’ve done that but basically switching to go and do more direct, and whilst Amazon takes fees etc is less than the cut a retailer will take slightly less, so it just makes life a whole lot easier, and it just means that it’s great really because I get to chat to people all over the world and see how they’re using my products. And it’s, it’s amazing.
Dana: Yeah, and having that worldwide distribution has got to open so many more doors and so many more eyes to the products that you have but also the products that you’re making because you’re still coming up with new products, I was just watching your Instagram stories the other day that had a totally new product for a little whether it’s a crib or a packet play or pork rib or whatever it is but I’m like I needed that when my kids are were that size. So, okay, I have so many questions throughout this story I want to go back a little bit so if you’re willing to I would love to hear about how you mentally got yourself through that time where your mom had moved in from a business perspective so for me, like, my husband’s overseas and I have done pretty well for the past with the past year have him be gone and having too little ones and all the things but I not to point where someone had to move in, but had to have someone definitely helped me through it and figure out what the deal was and my sister came and stayed a couple of nights and for me, the business was one of the last things on my mind but it was still running, there were so people waiting for things for me there were still people emailing there was still so many things going on during that week or so that I really was completely shut down, and I would love to know how you ended up pulling yourself out from a business perspective of that kind of time in your life. Yeah, so
Cara: I mean I think what happened was I went down to the bare essentials and I think sometimes I think we’ll put ourselves under such immense pressure to sort of deliver 120% and actually delivering 20% is enough. As long as you manage people, you know, I think that’s the thing I think it’s managing expectations so for example you know we I’ve been out of stock for the last sort of month or so due to logistical issues in the States. And, you know, we’ve been managing our customers by telling them what’s going on, you know, in our training ratings so, certainly when I had my breakdown, you know, we still had retail orders to deliver so you know I would still be going upstairs and getting a week, I used to have all the stock in my spare bedroom. And I’d be like pulling it down the stairs and then creating you know and what I did is I didn’t invoice for it for a while, you know, I just I get the delivery so it went in, and then I worried about the invoicing later, you know, I didn’t like try and tackle everything. I mean, there weren’t there were, it was about a month where really I didn’t do anything at all. I mean because I literally couldn’t but then I did start to get a bit stronger and a bit better and that’s when I just started picking up, kind of, I think the stress of not doing anything at all would have outweighed the benefits, you know, and so I did a little, I did enough so that it reduced my stress levels, and that was enough to sort of keep things ticking over.
Dana: I think finding that balance to have exactly what you said like the stress overtaking of not doing it is overtaking the relaxation of trying to take that break and I think it’s really encouraging to hear other people go through that because there are so many business owners that go through things that don’t have to do with the business that really forced them to kind of need to take that little break and to know that somebody else has been through that too I think is really encouraging, but also to say, okay, you can get back at it but just take it one step at a time and keep that balance of, okay, this is helping me, this is helping me relax by not doing this, but not doing it is causing me that greatest stress so to find that balance between those two and it’s going to be different for every business and it’s going to be different for every person, but to know that other people are doing that and have that same mind frame while they’re going through it and recommend taking the pills.
Cara: Yes. Oh yeah, I’m saying, big fan. I mean I’ve been on antidepressants for quite a long time. I’m also on a thyroid, with an underactive thyroid etc and I don’t really see them as any different to be honest so I just I sort of, you know, take the crutches that I can take in order to keep going, basically, at times when it’s needed. Yeah and I think that’s such great advice and I think it is right on this new shape. You know everything else, but I think you know I’m a big fan of D shaming people who worry about, like, oh my goodness I’m weak, if I take some pills to help me through a stressful time. You know what, like, actually are strong because you’re actually dealing with it and getting yourself better to a better place. And then you come out of that pit, and then you don’t need to go back into that pit again, whereas if you just stay in that pit it’s very exhausting, and, you know, actually, at the end of the day, you probably don’t do yourself any favors.
Dana: Yeah absolutely and I feel like, you know for you. If that was, you know 12 years ago that this was happening, it was, it was looked at a little bit differently than it is today and I feel like it is becoming so much more accepted it’s up to you know so that’s really, really amazing that that worked for you, so I appreciate you sharing this because I think it’s going to be really relatable for so many who are just trying to get by.
Cara: Lately, we’ve all just got to get by, you know, y’all just got to cry, you know we’ve all we’re all just trying to ultimately survive and do the best we can, you know, I wanted to be the best parent for my daughter, I wanted to be the best at the time that the best wife and my husband. I wanted to be the best daughter for my mom, you know, we all just want what’s best, but there’s only so that you know everyone has limits. So I just think we’ve got to sometimes give ourselves a little bit of a pat on the back and a bit of kudos for the fact that we’re actually just still standing by, I love it and it’s been it’s so, so true.
Dana: Okay, so talk to me about when you were coming up with this product, what experience did you have in the like, I know you said you’re collaborating with someone who didn’t know the science of things but what experience did you have in actually creating any sort of product development, did you know anything about that. How did you get up and moving with something if this wasn’t part of your everyday life.
Cara: Basically, I had absolutely no experience whatsoever so I didn’t know what I was doing how, I mean, what I did is, you know at the end of the day I didn’t reinvent the wheel most products are not a reinvention of the wheel. Most products are, you know, a tweak on the wheel so you know there were already out there that did sort of a bit of what I wanted and another product that did another bit of what I wanted and another product I did another bit and then I’m a big fan of sort of you know, amalgamating things and, you know, you know, there was a mosquito net that kind of fit most crowns. But I didn’t like the way it fit so it was then a matter of tweaking it and then there was like a sunshade but I didn’t like the way the suffering was it was you know, it was very hard scratchy mesh and I wanted something soft and tactile. I also wanted something that was like breathable and was actually permeable is what I want and. And the other thing is also because I’m a mom of one miracle child, and she had a febrile convulsion but she was very so, Oh my goodness, you guys have been through it. Oh yeah, we’ve been through baby. Oh, but that was that was horrendous. And so I’ve always been very sensitive to temperature, so it was one of the things that you know a lot of people always ask is Are your products safe for use in hot weather because they cover the stroller. And that was something that I dealt with, like, literally straightaway because obviously you need darkness to help sleep. And so, the product had to be dark really because I did initially look at the white version but it just didn’t darken it enough and so, and plus also, if you use a dark color, then the UV protection is more natural, because the UV is blocked by the dark color, whereas if you use a pale color you probably have to either make the fabric so solid like you know like a sort of like a, you know the UV swim, where you know that you get. Yes, yes. Or you’d have to chemically treat the fabric, and I’m very anti doing anything like that so I actually went to see the UK is leading thermal physicist as you do. I had a friend of mine who was a physics teacher. And it just so turned out, one of her friends husbands was the UK’s leading thermal physicist who worked at the physicists place, so I booked an appointment, you know, didn’t know from Adam and I was just asking I’m like well why is this and why is that, and I was useless at physics when I was at school so he did a real Idiot’s Guide so that completely reassured me because if it’s dark when the baby’s got to boil to death, you know, he’s like, No, it depends on, like, if you made it. After the break, then yes, but if it’s a fabric and it’s, you know, polyester, which my fabric is so therefore the heat like reflects and if it said permeable so the hot air is able to rise, you know, so he gave me all the, the rationale behind this I was like okay fine. And then the other thing also is like I found was, and this is not a criticism but basically a lot of baby products are actually only safe enough really to be used by three year old, because the assumption is, is that it’s the adult that is using the product. Now I’ve seen how babies eat things, and so I made sure that, you know what I’ve done with my products which is different from the norm. Is that all my products, follow the same safety regulations as the toy for a newborn, so I use like the only been safe certified pop snaps, they’re called sorry snaps in the world we call them hoppers baby safe safe snaps in the world, I use like these zips that are like white KK which is like super strong, they would stand all the pressure tests so they’re not choking hazards like all my straps like it would be super easy for me to just do a product that had too long straps that went around the back and that would fit so many more strollers more easily, but I do between six and eight sets of straps, because we use shorter straps, because then it’s not an entrapment, or a strangulation hazard. So there’s, there’s a lot of detail of the safety that kind of goes into it which is something that I’ve always been very obsessed with as I said, I mean, I’m a very protective mother and my daughter’s nearly 14 Now she’ll probably tell you I’m still overly protective, but you know that’s that’s my job and I think the other thing was I always felt it was a huge responsibility, creating products for other people’s babies, or I wanted to basically minimize any risk and maximize the fact that I would sleep at night knowing that I’ve done everything I possibly can also probably a lot of the really big big product manufacturers the world beyond to watch buyers, as I like as always with my customer service I like to sort of under promise and over deliver. And that’s the same as safety.
Dana: Yes, and I commend you for doing that because I feel like that’s interesting the way you put that out. Most baby products are made assuming that the adults going to use it but as soon as that baby can start grabbing and moving, it is not.
Cara: I mean I when I was first testing prototypes of one of my products a night with the one with the snaps and my friend’s baby had it in his mouth, you know straight away, he was like sitting chewing on the, on the strap and I thought well if that was a snap that, you know, it was not so not like these ones are integrated and they’re really expensive so I have like, I don’t know how many Caccamo Pam there has, like, 20 on, on one of these products and that actually adds a really significant cost to the manufacturing cost, but for me it’s worth it because of the fact that I know that that product you know it’s really unlikely it’s going to come off. You know, my products are all about function over fashion, because, like you say we all would be lovely for creative interpreting, and they look pretty and I’m I’m really sorry that just that’s not what it’s about and like, I’m not going to be using another oh well, you know, I’d really rather they just, you know, the US didn’t use velcro we didn’t use it. We didn’t use that and I’m like okay well I’m not using magnets because they’re highly dangerous, I’m not using Russians highly checkable I’m not using top toggles, again, highly easy they would not withstand safety testing that I like a thread. And so, you know, I sort of, I sound like I’m sort of ever sorry but no I can’t.
Dana: No, I think that’s great and it’s so much a part of your brand from what I’ve seen, you know since following you but how much of your sales and your success can you kind of attribute to the fact that you’ve taken these extra precautionary steps and made it just a safe product because for me, you’re right like that would be my first question is, can they still breathe like are they getting enough air, like is it gonna be cool enough in there for them. So, how much of your success as a company has been kind of attributed to those precautions that you’ve taken so far.
Cara: I don’t know we I don’t know the numbers but I’d certainly say a lot.
Dana: Yeah, it seems that so a lot of your marketing is based around that for you
Cara: so yeah it’s really interesting so like my background is marketing but I don’t consider that to be marketing I just consider it to be fact, like, what I mean it’s like, You know I’m not it’s not a spin, it’s just the way it is. And I think the thing is I see a lot of other products out there that don’t take the precautions and it would be very easy for me to kind of hold other products up and say this is why you’re not as safe as me but I won’t do that.
Dana: Yeah I mean to your right, because it isn’t it I guess you’re right. I guess it isn’t technically marketing but just the information that you’re giving people, that’s what sells for me, that’s what made would make me, click Add to Cart, because for me, I’m like okay, I’d much rather have a safe product and I think that especially, you know now with hearing all sorts of horror stories about children and, you know, Every I feel like everywhere you turn, there’s this could happen if this and this situation in here so I feel like parents are investing so much in the safety of their babies, that we should do.
Cara: I mean, as parents, but at the same time I do feel sorry because, you know, the problem is I know that my products are not always affordable for everybody, same time, you know I can’t compromise, I can’t produce a cheap version of my product right, it wouldn’t fit my safety criteria. And so I just won’t do it. And, you know, that unfortunately, you know my products get copied all the time, and you know they’re always half the price of course the price but then that health portion of the product as well, you know, I mean, it’s it’s really interesting, but you know what, at least it gives the parents something which is better than nothing, you know, in my brain, I don’t see competition as a bad thing, I find other products around good, it’s really interesting, like I’ve always seen it that actually it’s more of a hindrance when there are no other products like yours, because then you have to explain yourself a lot more as to why you want to buy it, whereas I was saying, like potties for example, you know, you go into a store, or you’re looking online and they’ll be like 3040 different types of potting for every sort of person you know there’s going to be like the gold plated party for the person who has to have the best. There’s going to be the glow in the dark want somebody who likes something a bit fun. There’s going to be the environmentally friendly biodegradable one for the environmentally friendly parent, there’s going to be ups as chips like the basic function, basic one for the person who doesn’t see the point in spending the money or doesn’t have the money, you know, all these different elements, and that doesn’t mean that it’s, like, each of those products is bad, it just means they’re different and I think, you know, personally, I think you’ve just got to make all your purchase decisions on based on your own budget and also your own requirements you know what’s important to.
Dana: Yeah, I think that that, that’s just part of life and having especially now everybody does everything so differently than each other and so to have those options is great but for me it always comes back to safety so I’m so thrilled.
Cara: You know I mean I said my products. I like seeing because there is actually quite strong secondhand market for my products which is good because the other thing is that I really bang on about his quality of product, and I mean I have something like a naught point naught 1% cent fault rate which is pretty, pretty proud considering this fabric product, but you know I have people who’ve been like using my products for five, six years more like 10 years, they bought them the first yeah I mean I had this lady the other day she was like, I bought the first one in 2010 I’m like that’s the year I launched my kit she’s used on for children but it’s long. And so, you know, that’s, that’s the other thing I’m trying to do as well as ensure that they’re quality because I like quality products for me. Yeah, and usually it falls apart in one minute. And yet, there is a problem with it, I want to be able to go back to the person who sold it to me or what created it and say, Look, this really isn’t what I expected it, You know should have lasted a bit longer than this, and I replaced them.
Dana: Yeah, I totally agree, and I love that you’re a customer service focus because I feel like when you have something like this that’s a product that’s supposed to last forever, you know, not forever but a long time that you should be able to kind of justify it on the back end. Okay So Cara told me about how you run your business and kind of grown your business and expanded, while being a single mom and what does your daughter, think about what you’ve kind of built and what you’ve done. Does she understand like the magnitude of it yet, or do you think it’s something that’s just it is what it is because you’ve done it for pretty much your whole life.
Cara: I have pretty much done it for her whole life. And she does see mommy when mommy gets stressed, you know, like Mommy has been stressed the last week or so and mommy’s had a bit of a shorter temper, and I just say, Look, I’m a bit stressed I’ve got more work on blah blah blah. But I mean the great thing about my products is we see them out and about, so like the other day she’s like well Mommy I saw SnoozeShade you No, and normally, all my friends see them and that and I see them around the world on holiday, you know, etc, etc. So I think what’s really nice is that Holly seen the success in terms of how it’s grown and she does see stuff behind the scenes as well so like I was really proud that Kate Middleton, you know the her official title.
Dana: Isn’t she a duchess
Cara: of Cambridge, so she or she uses two shades and we’ve cut out because of the fact she needed a trophy version which is for the pack McClay she needed for a holiday to take Prince Louis on. And so they got in touch because I’d sold out worldwide and I managed to find one. And so I also found out she used the stroller motion but you know so little things like that which is really lovely to be able to share with Holly because like Mommy did what he did that, you know, I freaking out and I’m not even your daughter I’m like, No, you should see literally like when I got the email, I nearly like threw up, and then I was like, wandering around outside my house I was like running around my house like. And then I calmed down because I’ve had to try and find a product so yeah exactly, to actually solve the problem. Yeah. But yeah, Holly sees me as a single moment I mean I’ve been I’ve had a boyfriend like for a few, a year or so like since I split up with her dad but that’s about it and I’m basically, you know I have a very close relationship with her father as well like we’re really really good friends. He lives at the end of the road so basically we just she just pops between the two houses and so nice. I had a very difficult childhood and so it was very important for me that, you know, she didn’t experience what I had to experience where, you know, due to my parents break up. So yeah, I think she’s, you know she’s definitely sees girl power, like I don’t think she sees the limits, because she doesn’t see me being limited particularly, she says we’re getting stressed occasionally Yes, but then you know what, who doesn’t get stressed, sometimes you know even if you’re in like a normal day to day job, you know, and I see a lot of my friends who are working very high profile big corporate jobs, you know, nearly 50 So a lot of my friends are like very very senior in a lot of these big businesses you know one of my friends was the head of global advertising for Shell, the fuel round, you know, and you see that the toll that that takes on them as individuals, and then I think like she you know whatever got it that bad I have a couple of flip outs occasionally like when it all becomes a bit much, and then I’m, I’m kind of like yeah I’m just gonna go sit on the sofa and crash out.
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Dana: Right and that’s the difference too is that you can say like I just got home from work and had a crazy day and bla bla bla bla bla as a in a corporate job and they’re not seeing really that every day, reasons for why I feel like with you, running your business and it just being around her, her whole life she kind of sees and she understands the ins and outs of what you actually do and why there is some stress that can come with it at times. We were chatting before we started recording about about just being kind of crazy right now and I read all your all your products being sold out which is you know a great problem to have, but also like okay, it’s still a problem and I have to deal with it. But how have these COVID slowdowns and you know the Brexit everything happening with that how does this change the shape moving forward of how you’re going to be, you know, distributing and running your business. Well, to be honest,
Cara: it hasn’t really, it hasn’t really changed that much, so I had a bit of a shock last year so when, when we went into lockdown sort of mid March, march or whatever. My business plummeted by 80% 80 to 90, because obviously a lot of people buy my products when they’re traveling, you know, and so like for some protection for sleep, etc, etc. And so kind of the bottom fell out of the business, and I and I have to admit, you know, just sitting there being somewhat stressed and sitting there with a piece of paper and a pencil, trying to work out how much money I thought it would cost me to just keep the business afloat, to say, yeah. And could I do that and I had, did I have the cash reserves which I did, which was very lucky, keep my team and to keep like day to day costs kind of day to day stuff going, and then basically like the sun came out and the UK sales went back up because all those people who probably would have bought it when they went on holiday somewhere warm, which by any way when it becomes warmer the UK and then in the US. Although everyone wasn’t traveling internationally everyone’s still traveling around either in the state or so people are still taking their babies like to see family and what have you. And so although life changed a lot. It didn’t change that much and I think if anything really interesting a lot of people started buying my products, because of the fact that it stopped people from touching their baby it stopped. Yes, babies from touching the outside world as well, and gave them an extra layer of protection. And so really in the end, like last year I think I was down about 25% year on year from the previous year, but that wasn’t anything that I was worried about I was just grateful to still be in business so you know that that was really where it where it came and then Brexit came in in January. Now interestingly, I’ve never done massively huge quantities in in Europe anyway because a lot of the cultures in Europe are very different so Italy and Spain, for example, that they’re not really big fans of sun protection and they’re not really big fans of their children sleeping regularly. So, interesting, they will have the kids up late at night, you know, they’ll have them up until midnight you know that because they do siestas during the day and their families out in the evening and do the whole they’re less routine obsess. So, to be honest, I’ve never really focused massively on Europe. And so, with Brexit. It was a nightmare we’ve managed to get some stock into Germany and I’m just going to operate out of Germany via Amazon, and that’s it. So what that means is I can serve as the whole of Europe, all of the Amazons in Europe will take their stock from Germany, which means that the delivery will be slower, but actually, at least it’s still there because that’s what I used to do in the UK we used to serve as Europe from the UK but also we’re now no longer part of Europe, but to be honest you know what, like, it’s just not a massive part of the business so for me it hasn’t really impacted massively because it’s not like I’ve lost a lot, it’s just more I’m sort of just maintaining really. But if I’ve got other people, other friends of mine in the business, and you know they’re really struggling because they just can’t get stuck in because basically Europe’s really pissed off with us. They don’t like the Brits at all, we’re like, you know, they’d want to punish their anything that comes in from the UK, they’re like, they’ve been really difficult, and they’re you know they’ve been very very restrictive and that is having an impact on everybody so you know it is it’s tough, at the moment.
Dana: Gosh Goodness I know you, there’s so many impacts of all these different things that you don’t know about if you’re not really directly involved in a day to day and so more than the other thing you’ve got at the moment as well as they’re getting COVID outbreaks in China again so they’re shutting the ports down so that means stop can’t leave China, the intended time so I’ve already had some stuff delayed by that and then we had the evergreen and the Suez Canal where the boat got stuck in the middle. Yeah heard about that. And then obviously the other problem we’ve got is then everything coming into courts is the port to chaos, Castle, you know, like I had a vote last night last week for were supposed to dock, and offload all its stuff, and basically just didn’t dock and went back out to sea again for five, six days so you know you’re like,
Dana: Okay. Wow,
Cara: yeah, see this is the kind of stuff that I mean 10-12 years ago, like this was not even on your radar of something to be paying attention to, you know, and it can just change relatively quickly in terms of what you have to keep track of.
Dana: Okay, so you said, you mentioned that you had friends kind of in the industry, how have you kind of built a community for yourself because being entrepreneur can be really pretty lonely, especially if you’re kind of inventing something that isn’t really a thing yet. So how did you kind of build your community as an entrepreneur to have friends and to have people to kind of not only commiserate with but, but be able to experience all these different aspects of your business with.
Cara: Yeah, I mean, I’m a sociable person so like, even at my very first trade show I made friends with somebody who I’m still friends with now. And so you know she’s the distributor for Sophie Lazaroff, you know, the little.
Dana: Yes, yeah.
Cara: So she said, The UK distributor for them, and I’m still is, I believe, and I’ve known her since I met her in 2009 and we still we’re still friends and we still chat and what have you. And then also, I think because you know I met other people who were doing it like I made a few friends that way and then other people at shows. We used to do a lot of like big baby shows the big consumer events and like, you know, you meet people there and I think it’s just a case of you’ve got to build your community, and, you know, now we’re we’ve got like Facebook groups but you know we’ve got one private group where we all basically his son, shout and blind. And then we’ve got other groups that are more kind of formal business II type groups etc and, you know, it’s I think it’s, yeah, there’s, I mean, it’s really interesting because I’m super sociable person and I would say actually I’m mainly an extrovert, but I do I think have some introvert qualities as well which is that I’m actually, I think because I have so much stimulation from from what I’m doing, You know, it’s not like I’m sitting here, kind of, I mean I think what’s probably burned me out or the last few weeks has been I’ve been working on like techie stuff, which for me is not good for my brain because it’s too much for my brain to kind of really deal with, whereas when I’m dealing with customers and I’m dealing with this, you know, and I’m, I mean I’m always the one you know who’s answering court like at like midnight, one o’clock in the morning if I’m awake, you know, if I’m still working like I was yesterday, and I’ve got people messaging me from the States and Canada or Australia or wherever, and I’ll just be there, answer answer because, you know, I don’t see that as true, I like I like doing that. What I don’t like doing this all the commandment stuff so I try not to do too much of that anymore. I’ve got people who help me so
Dana: I love that you are so hands on with the customer service side and you recognize that that’s what kind of filled your cup and made you feel full and like the admin wasn’t so for you because a lot of people do offload customer service relatively quickly, as they’re growing their team and I love that you recognize that okay this is what I’m good at this is what I like doing, I’m going to just answer inquiries even now.
Cara: Yeah and I mean, I think the other thing is I come in as the big boss, you know, like so, there’s a real problem then I’m like my team of very highly capable, and they can answer like 95% of the questions they get all right, and then they get the tricky one or they get somebody who’s been difficult, or whatever, and then I just come in and go wash right let me out this problem, you know, right. I quite enjoyed doing that and I mean I suppose that’s why they ended up being an inventor because I’m a problem solver, so give me a problem and I like to solve it, you know, I think that’s your fixer, a fix.
Dana: I love that. Yeah, well, Cara, thank you so much for doing this I am so excited for my friends here to hear this because I know that this is something that people are so interested in and to see the, You know safety aspects behind it I think it’s just that’s really speaks to my people, for sure so I know they’re going to be so so thrilled to hear it so well congratulations on such an amazing business and I know that everybody is going to be so excited to follow along on your journey.
Cara: Thank you very much.
Dana: Well Cara tell us where we can find you online where they can purchase a product where they can find you on Instagram all those things.
Cara: Well, basically if you look for SnoozeShade, which is snooze shade or one word with snoop on SnoozeShade on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, tick tock I’ve just done a bit of tick tock today. I know it’s a bit scary I’m not been doing I just uploaded a video just customer videos but a perfect one my daughter helped me do one tick tock video, which everyone was like really waiting themselves over because they’ve started so funny, because I’ve just I was like going I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now she’s like 14 So she’s doing all this head flicking and moving around and I’m like going What am I supposed to do in terms of websites so I have like snoozeshade.com I have SnoozeShadeusa.com I have snoozeshade.ca and I have snoozeshade.com.au So, there’s always a local level website but I mean basically, you know whenever anyone comes to solutions.com will point you in the right direction.
Dana: That is great. Well, Cara, thank you so so much for doing this and I can’t wait for this episode to come out and everyone to hear all about your story.
Cara: Thank you so much for having me.
Dana: Of course, I am so honored you spend any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneur life of its chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you heard, more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidst the chaos podcast.com No shoutouts to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, you mean the world to me and my family if you take the time. Thanks for joining me.