We were semi-normal people once. And then we had kids and all that somehow changed.
This is our story and how we came up with the Playtime Changing Pad that made it to national tv.
It was spring 2003 when I had my first baby. She was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen and becoming her mom was a pure joy. I was so young that the learning curve was practically a mountain. By the time I met my husband, my daughter was 2 years-old and we had gotten into a pretty good groove. I started to feel confident in my mothering journey and knew we wanted another baby together. Michael and I were married and a year later, we were expecting our first son.
It was a time of excitement and a time of growth. What I was expecting was not the reality. This sweet baby was totally different from my first - he needed to be held so much more often, and he hated his car seat and crib. Once he started crawling and then walking, he got into everything. When I changed my firstborn’s diaper, I cannot remember her once putting her hands in the diaper area. With my son however, it happened every single time once he hit about 6 months old. I tried giving him a toy to distract him and inevitably it ended up in the mess. I dreaded the poopy blowout ones if my husband wasn’t there to help pin him down. They were a nightmare every single time.
As a mom I was shaken - I knew it was a stage and I knew stages don’t last forever - but the one that I was “in” felt pretty miserable. I’ve got to be honest with you here, I was probably also fighting off postpartum depression. It was something way more taboo in those days - and basically you just had to “will it away” (literally I’m not joking, I had a psychologist tell me this). I hated so much, how hopeless I felt at being able to care for my new baby that I loved dearly. My husband also felt bad, he was also young, and we were trying to help one another with the new roles we now faced together.
We knew we had a curious little guy on our hands and loved the tenacity he had for life. But how could we maintain this vital part of his personality without shaking his confidence? Diapering is one of the important bonding experiences with your baby, it shows them your love, care and attention for them. It places the foundational building blocks of their hygiene care and the importance we place in making them comfortable, but what, is the curious part of their brain just supposed to turn off when they have a messy diaper?
Fast forward a few years and I had two babies in diapers at the same time. I was also fortunate enough to be able to care for my sweet nephew who was only seven weeks older than my youngest. Yeah you read that right, I was changing three little butts everyday. It was at this stage that my husband and I really started talking about a solution.
If necessity is the mother of invention, this mother was drowning in it!
Our second born had a fold up gym that had an arch that you could hang baby toys from and all our babies loved it. It certainly kept them entertained but we quickly learned it wasn’t THE solution to diaper time. It had an element that we loved and so we kept mulling it over. My husband Mike is an innovative man, when we had a problem fitting the specs of my wedding dress, he designed removable panels into the gown and voila, crisis averted.
Mike had decided one day that a changing pad definitely needed some sort of barrier that redirected the baby away from the dirty business and allowed them to engage in playing with hanging toys. He started drawing up plans and enlisting the help of his mom to sew his idea to life. It was a success and just in time too, because we now had Baby #4.
Once we had a working prototype sown and yet another diapering baby, it was the perfect opportunity to teach us what worked and what didn’t. Trial and error showed us what materials would be usable and what concepts we had to scrap. We knew right from the start, portability was going to be key, our family was alway on-the-go.
While attending a child’s birthday party, I went to grab our makeshift changing pad from the diaper bag when another parent stopped me to ask what it was.
“Oh this?!?!, Oh we actually just made this because our children are apparently monkeys” not sure if I was the only parent in the world with grabby babies and debating which corner to hide for the rest of the party. Their reaction changed the trajectory of our lives for us! They knew exactly what it was for, and THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
Both Mike and I left the party just beaming, we felt validated and like we may have a solution for parents everywhere. The problem was, we had no idea how to bring a product to market and had a lot of uncertainty about what that would look like. It wasn’t until my husband, while watching our then toddling Baby #4 conquer her fear of the stairs (safely, very safely) - that he decided to also JUST GO FOR IT! I was the break pumper initially, look Mike had a good salary job, he enjoyed the people he worked for - but creating products was the passion he had put on hold to provide for his family for years.
In 2014 we used tax return money; and started filing the patent, buying materials, setting up manufacturing. I was running all over to businesses trying to gather materials while Mike was still working his other job. Snoofybee was made in the wee hours of night and on weekends at that point. Slowly we got orders, which was wild! I loved reading the names and places of all the people who ordered from our website. I knew you were celebrating a baby somewhere in your life and I was just so darn grateful you thought of us. (Still am).
At some point in 2015 Mike started learning about this platform called Kickstarter - it seemed like a good fit to get an idea of the market's needs. In Spring of that year we started building a campaign and filming for it. By the time we were ready to launch I was packing up our house to move back to Oregon from Utah. It was an insanely busy time but we were hopeful for the future. We launched the campaign in summer of 2015 and were blown away by the results. SnoofyBee did so well that this was the boom we needed to start rolling and Mike went full time in the beginning of 2016. It was a time for so much change and learning. We always joke that we never had time for formal education because we were already enrolled in “the school of hard knocks” and by then we were pregnant with Baby #5, so ya know, no pressure!
The success of the Kickstarter got buzzing around and we were soon flown out to Chicago to be on national TV for the first time on Steve Harvey’s show. Soon after we applied for and were approved to be on Shark Tank. It felt like winning the lottery to have the chance to pitch to the sharks. We had brought Baby # 5 along to help demo the changing pad and it was about a 50/50 shot that he was going to try nursing on national tv. Thankfully he was a champ and the pitch was a success. Our Shark Tank episode aired November 5th, 2017 (Season 9, Episode 8). We received three offers from the sharks and were thrilled. In the end we took an on-air deal with Lori, feeling her connections would be a good fit. Having had the experience to share about our company in front of millions of viewers- especially ones who are fueled for a passion of new innovation-was truly something that was beyond our wildest dreams.
Here we are seven years later, and a lot has changed. We added Baby # 6 to our bunch and decided he was our last, which was bittersweet. Our little company grew to add more products to help families with daily tasks as our own children grew and entered new stages. This journey has been an amazing one, and we’re so beyond grateful for your support. In a sea of baby product options, it means the world to us that you’d choose ours. Truly, thank you, you have blessed our lives immeasurably 💕
-Amy Perry Co-owner of SnoofyBee