We met Anna last year at our very favorite conference, the Mom 2.0 Summit. That conference is equal parts great education (in the form of panels, workshops, and keynotes) and great networking, and Anna is one of the many smart, interesting, and cool women we’ve gotten to know as a result of attending.
(Just a plug that there are still a few tickets available for next year’s conference! Come with us! It’s such a great event! We’ll all learn about SEO and then drink wine at the Ritz Carlton bar. Wins all around.)
Anna is the founder of Enchanted Slumber; their signature product is a beautifully-made, ingeniously designed sleeping bag and pillow combination made from all organic materials. It rolls up into one easy-to-carry bundle. I have one and it’s fantastic: I send it with my baby to daycare, and also with my six-year-old on sleepovers. The design is that smart; it works for my toddler and my big kid. (Plus, mine has mermaids on the print! Yay, mermaids!)
And we looooove the story of how she built her business. Here’s what she told us about becoming an entrepreneur.
WorkKidsWine: Anna, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Can you tell us a little about how you got the idea for Enchanted Slumber?
Anna Spanton: Well, I have a pretty deep background in early childhood education. I worked as a teacher in first through third grades, and even helped my mom found a school. I’ve also worked with Waldorf schools and after-care classes.
WKW: So were your students the inspiration?
AS: Actually, it was my son. When he was going to preschool he needed a sleeping bag or blankets sent with him every week for naptime, and I just couldn’t find anything good. Everything was super polyester – it was so disappointing – and it fell apart after just a few months.
So I decided to make something myself so I could send him to school with something nice.
WKW: Did you already know how to sew?
AS: No! But I learned fast!
WKW: That’s so impressive! OK so how did this grow from one sleeping bag for your son into the business you have today?
AS: It started with some of the other parents in my son’s school asking where I got his sleeper. A few parents asked if I could make one for their child, and pretty soon I was taking orders in the parking lot before school started in the mornings. Eventually pretty much everyone in his preschool class had them. Then everyone in his kindergarten. And we were off and running.
WKW: And you sell your products through retail stores as well, correct?
AS: That’s right. A lot of our business comes through our online store, but our products [Editors’ Note: in addition to the sleeper, Enchanted Slumber makes organic burp cloths, bibs, and lunch totes] are also available in many boutiques across the country.
WKW: How did you make that transition into bricks-and-mortar stores?
AS: [Laughs.] I just literally started walking into stores with product samples and asking if they were interested in carrying my line.
WKW: That is such a bold, brave move! Love that!
AS: Yes, well, I’m a real people person and my heart is on my sleeve. I think business owners got how much I love these products and were willing to talk with me as a result.
WKW: So back when you were working in early childhood education you lived in Hawaii, correct? How did you end up in California?
AS: I ended up having to move to California for family reasons, to help tend to my father’s company. As part of this, I ended up getting kind of a crash course in marketing, but I had to put Enchanted Slumber on the back burner for a while.
WKW: But you’re back on it full time now?
AS: Yes, and we’re growing. We recently redid our website, all of our marketing materials, and all the prints on our sleepers. We’re looking into making our own custom prints. And I have to say, not only are our products well-made, they are incredibly beautiful. I literally know kids who sleep in their sleepers on their beds every night. Plus I am proud to say that every piece is made here in California.
WKW: That is so cool. I will tell you both my daughters love our sleeper. It really is a beautiful item.
AS: Thank you!
WKW: So other than the obvious satisfaction you must feel in watching your business grow, what has been the best part of starting your own company?
AS: Hands-down, it’s been the effect it’s had on my son. He’s 13 years old, and watching me gave him the confidence to start his own business: he owns a custom skateboard company! I can’t tell you as a mom what it feels like to watch him excel.
He recently created an amazing custom board for the Seal Beach police department with Sharkwheels and safety lights from Shredlights so it can be used at night – it’s just gorgeous. Watching him take that on and be so motivated…I can’t put it into words. His grandfather was an inventor, too. He’s carrying on the family tradition, and using creativity and art. [Editor’s Note: You can read more about Anna’s son’s business here, and his custom police board here.]
WKW: That is maybe the best argument for starting a company we’ve ever heard: inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. Anna, thank you so much for speaking with us!
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Have you founded a business? Or maybe you know a friend who’s doing something cool? We are always looking for inspiring working moms to feature. Shoot us an email or let us know in the comments!
Disclosure: We were gifted one Enchanted Slumber All-In-One Organic Sleeper, which my daughters are both crazy about. All opinions expressed herein are our own.