Most new mums struggle to wash their hair and get out the house but not Sophie and Effie. Alongside changing nappies, nappy rash and surviving sleep regressions, they decided to change how sleep suits functioned and helped make parenthood survival that little bit easier. Especially at bedtimes.
In case you’ve not come across Sleep Thief, they’re gorgeous, well thought-out ‘mischiefsuits’, which come with the added bonus of zips rather than poppers (there’s nothing more stressful than poppers and an overtired baby) and ingeniously names ‘footens’. These are ankle cuffs which can fold over feet for colder temperatures.
Having listened with great interest about the business developments over the clacking of needles (and general shouts of ‘PUT THAT NEEDLE DOWN!’ and ‘WTF have you done with that wool?!’) at the Heroic Knitting Highbury Mums & Babies Knitting classes, it’s an absolute pleasure to have interviewed them about their achievement.
Tell us a few lines about yourself – who are you, where are you from, what were you doing before Sleep Thief?
We are Sophie and Effie. Two Islington mums who met at antenatal courses in the pub! Before Sleep Thief, Effie was a corporate lawyer and Sophie worked in sports hospitality at Arsenal and Lord’s.
At last! A sleepsuit with a zip! Why aren’t there more sleepsuits like this already on the market?
Zipped babygrows are actually becoming increasingly popular but the ones on the market still have their shortfalls! The zips mainly go down one side of the body and often open in one direction. This means having to get a baby completely undressed for a nappy change and also wrestling with the one leg that is bereft of the zipper opening. We’ve literally had moments where we are shoving and pulling our girls’ legs into these suits. Not easy for you and really uncomfortable for the kid.
Innovation is sparse in the baby clothing world and so we decided to start getting creative. We tried out a range of zip placements and found that our rainbow zip was super effective. We actually don’t know why more sleepsuits like this aren’t already on the market!
What was your inspiration for starting this?
This list is endless! Late-night, sleep-deprived nappy changes. Screaming kids. Too many tears from both adults and children over changing! And then noticing that our mum friends were buying babygrows all the way from Australia because of our limited options in the UK!
Can you remember the exact moment you had the idea to start your business?
It was probably over coffee in Camden Passage whilst we were boobing the girls and falling asleep into our cappuccinos… We were actively on the prowl for more sleep and we knew that swift and easy changing-times would help that.
What are each of your roles in the business?
The best thing about Sleep Thief is that we are an amazing team (so cheesy, but so true). We have never disagreed on a decision and have been on the same wavelength from Day 1. It’s been a more natural ‘division of labour’. Effie knows how to write a contract, which has helped and Sophie is amazing at designing and numbers, so we play to our strengths.
How long did it take to get from idea to having an actual product?
From inception to our first sale it took just over a year. And that was with us learning first-hand about the fashion industry and all its interesting quirks (bearing in mind that we had zero experience or knowledge, and two under-1s to look after). It seems like a long-time, but the prototype took a while as we wanted to make sure it was something we truly believed in.
What were your main challenges with trying to get this off the ground, as a mum?
Time. Finding space to sit down and properly work on the business. And sourcing organic cotton in the UK! What a palaver!
Have you had any times when you thought, this just isn’t going work? How did you overcome that?
No. Not one. We believe so deeply in our products that we know parents around the world will find our stuff useful! If we’ve had a little falter, we’ve also had each other to cheer on and encourage. It’s been amazing.
What’s been the best thing so far about setting up your own business?
The positive feedback and seeing happy babies in our products!
What’s next in store for Sleep Thief?
Ah ha! You’ll have to wait and see. Let’s just say, plans are afoot.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
In a dream world, sipping cocktails on a beach whilst our children frolick in the sand around us. In reality, Effie would probably be chained to a law desk, and Sophie would be running around after sports fans.
What has been the biggest help so far when it’s come to launching your business?
Our husbands. Yuck but true. They have believed in the product from the start, they’re both really good at numbers and they’re not afraid to tell us when something looks/is shit!
Three pieces of advice for a mum wanting to start their own business?
- Make sure it’s a business you really believe in.
- If you can, find a friend. We could never have done it on our own.
- Remember you’re going to have really shit days but then really amazing days. It’s a rollercoaster of peaks and troughs, but so worth in the end.
Who’s your mumpreneur inspiration?
We are always inspired by local mums we meet and are running their own businesses. Cassie Gilbert from Heroic Knitting runs amazing knitting workshops for mums (you can bring your babies) and she always has her gorgeous little Arthur in tow! Eliza Flynn from The Warrior Method is making exercise accessible to all mums, and is often seen squatting with a bubba strapped to her chest! And we met Julia and Cata from Mubakid at a Virgin StartUp Day when both their babies were under 9 months! Check out their marketplace at www.mubakid.com.
How can we get our hands on a Sleep Thief sleepsuit?
Favourite motto for when times get tough?
Things will work out in the end.
Other favourite baby and toddler products on the market?
Kit & Kin biodegradable nappies. Bonus that Emma Bunton founded the company!
Couldn’t live without our Babyzen Yoyos, especially on our adventure days.
Neal’s Yard baby balm for Sophie. Effie loves Weleda Calendula nappy cream. Both have resulted in nappy-rash-free bottoms!
Mum & You biodegradable eco-wipes.
Favourite things to do in Islington / London with your little ones?
We have been going on Adventure Wednesdays in London for the past year. Particular highlights have included:
- The Postal Museum for its soft play called Sorted! So cute and the kids loved it.
- The British Museum: make sure to go to the info desk and ask for a little backpack.
- The Museum of Childhood – always has fun exhibitions, loads of space for the kids to run around, and a great café onsite.
- London Zoo. Because, animals.
Anything else you want to add?
Join the Sleep Thief revolution and get your Mischiefsuit today!