Katy and Courtney chat about the idea behind SlumberPod, it’s many unique places and spaces it can go, and the longevity you can get from a single product. We all know sleep, especially when traveling is important, and this product is a slam dunk.
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
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Welcome to the kids sleep Show podcast where we dive into the magical world of sleep, and all things parenting. Join us as we embark on a journey filled with expert advice, practical tips and heartwarming stories that will transform your little ones into sleep superheroes, and empower you to navigate the beautiful chaos of parenting. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. And I’m on a mission to change how the world view sleep and provide accessible sleep coaching resources for all families to build healthy sleep habits in their home for children and adults of all ages. As an award winning speaker, author and pediatric sleep expert, myself and my team of consultants work intimately with families around the world to teach healthy sleep habits to children and adults. I believe wholeheartedly that sleep is the foundation for which a happy home is built. So let’s sleep together. Hey, everyone, welcome to this week’s episode, I am joined by one of the cofounders of a favorite product of ours here, not only in the dance house, but also here at tidy transitions. Miss Katie Mallory, one of the cofounders of slumber pod, thank you so much for joining me today.
Thank you so much for having me coordinate. I’m thrilled to be here.
This is going to be a good episode, the slumber pod saved my sanity at our beach house, which we’ll talk all about during the show. But I’m just excited to have you start by introducing slumber pod and
telling folks who don’t know it or might just have a newborn and be wondering, what is this amazing product? And do I need one a little bit more about the product?
Absolutely. Well, the best way maybe to tell about slumber pod and what it is, is to start with the origin story for summer pod especially because I would imagine a lot of your listeners can relate to what I’m about to share. So back in 2014, I was on a family trip visiting my mom and she was hosting all of her kids. She has six kids, many of which have significant others for the winter holidays and our oldest kid because we’d read several books about sleep structure and, you know, talk to other parents who had great advice for getting our kids on a routine our oldest slept really well at home in a pitch black nursery with a white noise machine set to the perfect temperature. But when we took that kid to visit my mom’s house, my husband and I had to share a room with our baby. And that baby who slept really well at home slept terribly while traveling. I’m talking awful. And what happens when the kid sleeps terribly, the parents sleep terribly, right? So with a little bit of streetlamp light coming in through the blinds and not having great window treatments on our child kept waking up seeing us across the room not wanting to go back to sleep. And what turned or what was supposed to be three days of making memories as a extended family ended up getting cut short, because we had such a miserable time. My husband and I each got two or three hours of sleep a night while we were visiting. We ended up going home a day early. And we swore off traveling for a long time. And we wondered what what could we do that could make traveling easier. And I went online and looked for some kind of solution that would help create a safe and dark space for our child around a crib or you know, Travel Crib and couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. So after squaring off traveling for a little while, I ultimately bought two cheap camera tripods and a sheet to string between them. And I use ponytail holders or twist ties to attach the sheet to the tripods. And that created a little temporary wall that we were able to use in hotel rooms. But it didn’t solve all of our problems, right? Because if the light was still creeping through the curtains at six o’clock in the morning, or if we wanted to, you know, be on our phones. We were hiding under the covers hiding in the bathroom and hotel rooms. And I knew that there still had to be a better way. So Flash forward about a year and a half later, I was on maternity leave with twins. And my mom graciously offered to spend several months with us while I was on maternity leave. And she said you know Katie, that problem that you had at our house about a year and a half ago or so there has to be a better solution. And if there isn’t one we should make one. So we set off to create what is now called slumber pod and we are so excited to be able to help families sleep better. So what is slumber pod it’s a portable privacy canopy made out of a breathable but nearly blackout dark fabric that completely encloses or safely encloses a child’s play yard mini crib, toddler cot or inflatable mattress so that you can create that dark sleeping environment that creates natural melatonin whether you’re traveling or on the road.
I love it and it’s so funny because I feel like as you’re going back in the dates I’m thinking like okay, Max was born for 2814 And we had the same problem. We had a beach house and it wasn’t a huge house, you know. So we had kind of what we call the troll hole. So we had a really big master bedroom at the beach house. But it was unnecessarily big for this condo. So my husband built like a kind of fake bedroom inside of our bedroom. He liked it, and then just put paneling up and made a door. So it kind of made it a separate troll hole, as we call it, and then made bunk beds. So he kind of moved some of the closet, they had an epic amount of closet space, and put these two bunk beds in. And then we had our first kid who slept in the crib in the troll hole. So it was love
it. I love them. Yeah.
So it was pitch dark. And I was as a sleep consultant like, Okay, we need to have the white noise machine pitch dark, good routine bed at seven, everybody’s you know, fat and happy. slept through the night. Well, then we introduced our daughter 2016. And we’re down the beach again. And she’s now like three or four months old. And I was like, Okay, we’re gonna put her in our room and keep him in his little room. Sure. He’s still in the crib. And we’re like, Okay, this makes the most sense. He’s too young to put into a bed yet. So let’s put her in the room. Well, every night, she would wake up, and she was right next to us. Because now that we’ve made it like a smaller room, you know, she would stare at us. And just, and I’m like, You are sleeping great at home, and I am going to murder myself here. Because I can’t sleep and I’m like asleep junkie, you know. And every night you struggled for probably like two months, every night, she would just wake up stand there staring at us. Finally, one night. I was like, you know, what, what are we doing, like, move him into here and move her into, you know, the other room. And then he can just we literally threw like a mattress on the floor and put her into the little troll, you know, but there was still the ambient light. So that’s where it’s like, okay, how do we manage this, we got like blackout shades. And from that night on, slept through the night. And I’m like, gosh, we’re at the end of the summer now, but it’s really annoying. It took us three months to figure this out. But that was like very early 2016. And it was the that
our twins were born in summer 2016. So that was around the time things all got started. Yeah, awful how notoriously bad window coverings are at beach homes. And we think about trying to have an idyllic family vacation. And instead you’re a zombie and barely remember what you did, because you’re so sleep deprived. So we’re glad that that doesn’t have to be the way anymore.
And now it’s the slumber pod is so tiny. It is so portable, it is so amazing. And you can stay in it for a couple years. It’s not like one of those things that you have where it’s like, okay, this is cool for six months, and they grow out. And it’s like, no, like my kids, we have one. And my toddler would still nap in it, you know what I mean? So it was like for some sheets and blankets on the floor. It also made it their own little private space. We made it fun and, you know, kind of did some decorating inside with things but they loved it. Like they loved it to nap, we could take it easily when we went to other places that we didn’t know what the situation was like I’m asleep, ninjas. So everywhere we go, I’m like, Okay, we need this, we need that, you know, to make sure. But if we were in a pinch of a situation like oh my gosh, that because we you know, I’m a couple years behind like when the summer pod was created. But now it’s like the most amazing product ever. And I want you to talk a little bit about who should this be used for because I kind of alluded to it right? It’s not just the newborn baby who’s in a bassinet or a pack and play or something for vacation at the lake like you can use it at home. So you don’t have to get these ridiculous curtains that are blackout, you know, talk a little bit about you know, okay, you’ve got the idea for the product, you make the prototypes. Who’s this going? For?
Sure. So um, you alluded to how our product can be used for many years, we designed it for babies aged four months all the way through 567 years old, as long as they can fit on a pallet inside the summer pod. And the reason we do get some questions sometimes about why four months and up and that’s because babies are the most vulnerable during their first four months. And so for that reason, we recommend that parents and caregivers directly monitor their sleep habits as much as possible. And I also understand and you tell me if this is something that y’all talk about, too that babies are a little less light sensitive their first few months because they can’t see very far so there’s less of a need for a pitch black dark space very early on regardless. And then because it fits with play yards, mini cribs, inflatable mattresses and toddler cots it can be used for such a long time. So while the price point of 179 99 or 199 99 us with the fan might feel a little expensive to some families you think about years and years of use or not having to rent an adjoining hotel On broom or a bigger beach house because your child can sleep just a few feet away from you uninterrupted. Which brings me to talking about some of the use cases. So obviously travel hotels, Airbnb, things like that. And then we also have customers who have told us how helpful summer pod is for room sharing at home, you might have a six month old or a one year old, and they need to sleep in the same room with a three or four year old sibling. And that can be distracting for both children. So this is a way for both kids or the younger kid to have a private and dark place to sleep, even when sharing a room. So you can flip the lights on as you put the older kids asleep, you know, 30 or 45 minutes later than the younger one. And that’s not an issue. Also, there are plenty of times when parents want to maintain their sleep structure for their child, but still want to maintain their own social schedule, right. I know for me, I lived and breathed the routine because I knew that that would create confidence and flexibility for me. But it also meant that we had to be home certain times of the day, I mean, maybe one nap out but otherwise felt like we needed to stick around the house so that our child could sleep. But now because of slumber pod and the quick setup, parents can take their child to a football watching party or book club in the middle of the day and just ask if they can set up the pack and play and the slumber pod in an office that’s down the hallway. And that creates a lot more freedom and flexibility to
Yeah, I love it. And I’ll tell you it is just game changer for for folks in cities too. You know, I had some clients a year ago now twins. And they were in a one bedroom apartment in New York City just coming out of the awful pandemic. And they were like, What are we supposed to do? Like we have a one bedroom apart, there’s nowhere to put this kid and we’re not moving out of the city, you know. And I’m like, You need to get to slumber pods and have each one in a slumber pod. And then you can still have what is your queen size bed, you know, they had Murphy bed, and you could still have like spacial separate darkness. And you could have everybody in the same room. It’s not a problem, you know. And it was just a game changer for them because it worked for naps. It worked for bedtime, everybody had their own space. And then as they grew, you know, I was just talking to the mom the other day. And they are now using it as like quiet time. You know, like it’s a really cool, even my kids, they’re six and eight and like they play around. In the slumber pod. It’s in my daughter’s room and they read in it like they go in together and read each other’s stories they take flashlights now. So it’s like it is the most universal product that we’ve probably purchased for our children, you know, over the course of the past eight years that we’ve had them, because it has grown with them so much. So I think to your point, like when you start to think about like price and price points, like the value of a good night of sleep, the value of enjoying vacation, the value of going away with your friends, or being able to take it to go out for New Year’s Eve and maybe stay a little later for dinner, not midnight, not a proponent with young kids. But you know, just if you’re going to be doing something, you can pop it up in somebody’s guest room and kids can sleep and then you can put them in the car seat and head home when you’re ready and know that you know they’re getting the right amount of sleep at the right time. So I just am so thrilled for the product. I mean, talk to us a little bit about there was the initial design, right? And then I know constantly. You’re always looking to innovate different fabrics, different colors. breathability durability, right? Like what are some of the things that you’ve changed since the initial prototype because I know products are proven?
Absolutely. So we added with the second version, which we call 2.0, a mesh pouch for a fan because we understand that some parents and caregivers want to have more circulation for peace of mind. I do want to make it really clear that that is totally optional. We pass all juvenile product safety testing without the fan in there and without the vents open because we do have several mesh and like more breathable panels that can be opened up as well. But we in the third version also added a mesh pouch at the top at the apex so that a fan could be pointed down towards the child if the parents would prefer and we also improved the video monitor pouch. Previously it had over here I believe. Previously it was a zippered pouch and when you closed the zipper the cord might move a little bit which moved the camera angle. So we’ve since replaced that with just a flap that completely covers the bottom you know where the bottom of the pouches so no lie comes through, but it makes it a lot easier to position to position the monitor. And then the third difference is that we made the bag a little bit bigger so that it can fit your baby monitor or your fan inside the bag. And while we’re talking about the bag, the angles a little bit funny here, I’m trying to think of what would be the best way to show scale here, I guess maybe my phone. But this the, the bag that it comes in is only a little bit bigger than a shoebox. Some people say it’s about the size of a loaf of bread. And that makes slumber pod really easy to pack up and put in your car. It even fits in carry on luggage with lots of room to spare yet is tall enough for a child to the baby to sit up or stand up inside and have plenty of clearance were some other sleep canopy type solutions that are are built a little bit differently could feel claustrophobic because they are just as tall as the play yard. Not to mention those solutions can’t be used freestanding, they really require the structure of the play yard in order to work where this could go over, you know, a pallet or any other type of sleeping surface.
Yeah, and I will say setup is like three minutes, you know, it’s so easy. It’s like put the bars together slide and it pops up. So it’s beautiful for you know, I mean, just I remember as a teenager, like trying to set up a tent, and I wanted to like smash something because like I couldn’t get the thing to go up. And it was an hour later and getting dark when we were camping with my parents. But this is just so beautifully easy. And I love that everything stays kind of connected to so you’re not like missing a bar or missing pieces or anything. Like it’s just so it is so easy and so portable. Which which thank you so much. They’ll talk to me a little bit about the products right I know you’ve got a variety of different products, I will say we do take the fam separately, I just took it with me. Last weekend, I was at Kalahari here for my daughter’s Irish dance contest. And like I’ve taken so that in the hotel, which was great, but talk to me about like some of the other products, some of the innovation like is there anything new coming down the line that we need to be aware of?
Sure will later this year, we’re super excited to be launching a sleep surface of our own. I’ll leave it a little bit vague to create some anticipation and excitement. But instead of just telling people what other products work within slumber pod, we’re going to be launching something of our own for when kids graduate out of that play yard but still want to sleep inside slumber pod. So we’re really excited about that. And of course, all of our email subscribers, Instagram followers, etc, we’ll find out about that launch before it happens. And then we’re also going to be creating some items in the baby sleep apparel type category, with some unique features and some unique prints. So we’re really excited about that. And related to product design our product roadmap further down the road, I’m not sure and it really wouldn’t matter for for day to day. But I’m not sure if most of the sleep consultants who we work with, or consumers know that our company was acquired by a larger company about a year ago. And that has been really positive for us. And one of the biggest reasons that it’s been positive is because we can stay in that one of the reasons is we can stay in stock, we had a lot of issues in the last couple years staying in stock because of demand, which is some would say a good problem to have. But for us, we wanted to get our product into as many people’s hands as possible. And as a small business had a hard time doing that, and having the, you know, cashflow to buy the inventory needed. So that’s one positive. And then the other is the company that bought us is really tech focused. And we are using a mix of their proprietary tools as well as other tools that exist to understand product gaps and specific features that we could include on our product that other companies aren’t doing. And we have a really lengthy roadmap of products that we’re planning to launch in the next year and a half or two years. I’m talking 20 Plus products. So all those are in the works and are being prioritized. Some are related to sleep and some are more and the general Baby Care category.
I love it. It is such a space where it’s like oh, we need this, oh, we need this. Like I have something in the space of children that I’m waiting on like a provisionary patent.
Oh, no exciting, more offline about that. Oh, cool.
So it’s like, but it’s out of my element. You know, it was just an idea where I’m like, if I don’t do this, I’m going to be so mad that I didn’t do it because somebody else’s gonna come up with the idea, you know, so. So I’m excited. I’ve just I’ve never gone down that road of like, I have an idea. And let’s see if it comes to fruition, you know, I mean, I’m in the services space, and I’m launching a service based app for sleep coaching, like doing it differently than ones that are out there with Inclusive coaching and chatting, that village side, but you’re like a product itself. So it’s just a whole new, whole new area for me, but like fingers crossed. So guiding, you were once a tired mom. Right? And it’s a very overwhelming space, frankly, right. And I think it’s also relatively lonely when you first come home from the hospital. So I always ask my guests like, what is advice that you would give some new parents who are just in the thick of it right now, you know, the kids sleep show is something that goes out all over the world again, now. And so I know there’s different customs and the way people kind of move through that first year or two of life. Advice. Would you give some new parents who are listening to this just from a parent perspective?
Absolutely. Well, one, which I know aligns with advice you share is the importance of being on a routine, of course, there will be crazy days where you have to be a little bit more flexible. But for us, having a schedule and a routine is what created flexibility and confidence. So we knew when we could host people for, you know, a few hours and they could see the baby or when we could have adult time when the baby would be sleeping. That was that was huge for us also lead to more, I guess, set what would be the right way to describe more, I guess, predictable, fulfilling, happy restful times for us as parents, when we were able to get our kids on routines and had them sleeping for 11 or 12 hours a night by the time they were three to four months old. So definitely that another would be to not suffer alone. If you’re having a hard time going back to your village. No language related to your program. There are many villages out there for moms summer and sleep communities like yours. Others are in Facebook groups where you can join and be with other parents that had kids the same month or the same quarter and you can commiserate or get advice from each other. Also, never be shy if you’re struggling to talk with your doctor about postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. Because even though those topics are much less stigmatized, now, they’re still more stigmatized and they need to be. And if you’re not feeling like yourself, you absolutely should ask for help. Because there there is light on the other side, even if you can’t feel it, and related to light on the other side. I also believe it’s important for new parents to understand that the the in the thick of it times those first few months are temporary, as much as they can feel really hard. That phrase, the the days are long, but the years are short is absolutely true. And once you get a lot of the basics in place, you can do so many of the things that you enjoyed free having children while also incorporating your children into the life that you’ve loved so much.
Yeah, I love that. And I’ll tell you I had at the time what is now I you know, because it’s a couple years later, postpartum anxiety postpartum depression. I’m very open about talking about it. But I didn’t know what it was my girlfriend’s like, you need to talk to somebody you have anxiety. And I was like, No, I don’t, I’m fine. I’ve never had anxiety. I got this. I’m a mom, Ba Ba, ba ba.
What did that look like for you coordinate?
It was awful. I would not go into my kitchen. Because I was afraid I would grab a knife. And it’s not that I would use it. But in my mind, I had these thoughts that were like,
my mind was playing tricks on you. I was like, what if I dropped the knife
and it ricochets off my foot and then cuts Max’s leg off? You know what I mean? It was just like the most erroneous thoughts that I’m like, What the heck are you talking about? And I wouldn’t go upstairs because I was afraid I would trip holding him. And so I wouldn’t go upstairs or downstairs. So I was like a prisoner in my living room while my husband left for work every day. My only sanity was walking. So I walked on a schedule. Type A like Okay, your time is 11 o’clock to nap we’re going to leave at 1045. And so that helped me at least get some fresh air but like I wouldn’t drive over a bridge in Conshohocken, where I lived for years. I traveled a lot for work. I was a corporate marketing executive at the time, and I was in New York and Vegas and all this stuff. I would get into a hotel room, close the blinds fully and lock the door because I was afraid I’d have a drink and happy hour and come back and jump off the balcony of the cosmopolitan like, it was just but like would I ever do it? No.
Those thoughts were in your head.
I had the thoughts and it was like what the heck man like I’ve never had anxiety I’ve never had up question like, you know, I didn’t know, I didn’t know what I was experiencing. And then I just sort of brushed it off as like, Okay, you’re just hired, okay? You’re just a new mom, okay, you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, you know, my girlfriend’s like, you need to talk to somebody. And I’m so open about it now because like, luckily, I kind of got past that period, things got better and easier with my second, where I had more confidence in what I was doing. But like, we don’t educate parents. I mean, how am I kids? They were like, bring the car seat up. Let’s make sure they’re strapped. Good luck. And I’m like, what? Like, what are you were? What do we do? I don’t know what we’re doing.
I need the handbook. I need the cliffnotes. Yeah, like, I
need somebody. And that’s what like, that’s where the sleep coaching side of my life was born, because I’m like, This is crazy town, that this is how we treat new mothers. And it’s not fair, you know, and my husband was awesome. And he was super supportive and did what he could, but he was also working. And the reality was, I was on maternity leave. So, you know, it’s just, it was a crazy period. And I will say, when I fixed the sleep, which with my first son, I didn’t yet do this. But I saw such an immediate shift in myself. And in him when I started to realize like, oh, everyday doesn’t have to be a total dumpster fire. Like we can put some structure in place, even from birth without sleep training, like people think what we do is like, stick your baby in the crib and let them cry it out. Oh, more complex than that, you know. So it’s frustrating. Because that like mindset is there, you know, so much more about like education, I just did a Pinterest live, TV show the other night. Sleep, it was really cool. And, you know, it’s like just talking about the things parents don’t know. Because when you fix the sleep for yourself, it also fixes it for them. And guess what, you feel better. And they feel better, like parents don’t realize like, babies feel like you do, they just can’t express it. Like, nobody wants to be up half the night unable to go to sleep, you know, it’s not fun for them either. But they’re only six months old. So they can’t tell you that. And so it’s just such a cool thing when you can understand like awake windows and creating good hygiene and creating the right environment in the right temperature and avoiding the wrong foods or you know, all the things that can contribute to poor sleep. And it’s just such a beautiful world, like I sleep more now with two kids and running a full time business than I ever did before kids. And it’s structured. It’s great.
Absolutely, yes, I was thinking as you were talking about how sleep deprivation can just exacerbate all those things. And that’s why it’s so important that there are people like you who are helping parents gain that confidence, understand the things that they weren’t told as they were preparing to become parents. So thank you for all you do for your community, Courtney,
yeah, it’s been great. So I’m just so blessed to be able to speak with folks like yourself who come on and like, share these cool products, you know, that frankly, many parents might not know about because we take for granted, like being in the space that all this stuff is out there. But oh my goodness, this slumber pod is just amazing. And I’m so excited for everybody to learn about it, to continue to learn about it and to watch and follow you guys. So why don’t you take a minute and tell folks where they can find you and how they can follow you?
Absolutely. So summer pod is slumber pod.com. And if you happen to be in Canada, you would get redirected to the Canadian website. And that’s where you’ll find our products. We’re also available on Amazon, as well as with a few retailers nordstrom.com Pottery Barn Kids, baby list, stroller Riya, several specialty shops as well. And we’re shortly going to be back on Amazon. And Courtney, do you remember your discount code off the top of your head? Because that would be a good one to get to look up as well.
Yeah, let me I have my little list here of all the different ones, but I’ll put all the show notes out there as well. Because um,
when people go to shop, I want to make sure that they they get an even better value. Using your code.
It’s just tiny transitions, but I’ll pop it in the show notes. Because I’m notorious for just telling people make just go to slumber pod and check it out and like oh, the link, you know, but but I’ll make sure to put that in the show notes as well. And I always appreciate that. But I just love sharing the product. I’m so blessed to be able to speak to companies like yourself and to just chat about like how these products are innovated and found. And I look forward to seeing how many people like and follow this episode and find you out on social media. I know you’re on Instagram because I’m out there all the time. But I’ll put all the links out there and if people have any questions, they can certainly connect and reach out.
Sounds great. Thank you so much, Courtney. It’s been an honor. Thank you