Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Goodnighties … new high-tech smart-fabric for better sleep!

Sarah Baldwin

I begin my story as an unexpected entrepreneur- My journey in this direction began when I was searching for my own solution to chronic insomnia and horrible night sweats. I’m an older mother with sassy teens, headed for menopause and was quickly becoming a WMD (Jan. 2010). As luck would have it, I found nightwear on-line called ‘Goodnighties’ – a name that certainly caught my tired eyes! I bought a pair without really paying attention to the details- just looking for some relief, much to my surprise, (rather, elation!) I woke up after the first night- rested and absolutely amazed! I had slept straight through the night… something that I hadn’t done in years! As I continued to get better sleep my creative energy returned and I had an epiphany! In knowing I was the target-audience, I had a feeling there were likely other women not too different from me who would love to know about this amazing fabric to sleep better — simple as that!

I then quickly tuned into ‘the details’ of Goodnighties to discover that this fabric (what we now call ‘Smart-fabric’) is made with a patented ionization process called ‘IonX’ that blends negative ions into the fabric fibers to stimulate blood flow to tired muscles promoting healing and better sleep! This technology is rooted in high-performance athletic apparel and had also been used in restoring tired muscles for race horses (a fun metaphor that busy mom’s can relate to J) … this custom fabric also has superior moisture-wicking properties and is also anti-microbial. Sounded great to me! And the fact that it is 100% U.S. Made another tremendous benefit…. I began further researching…then I did my own personal ‘focus-group’ and purchased random nightwear that had moisture wicking claims (none had ‘IonX’) and one night I found myself at 3 am rummaging around in my laundry room looking for my Goodnighties… it was a profound moment for me! While not actively looking for a ‘job’ I knew as my children got older that I was not meant for a life of vacuuming… after all, I had been on the original very small marketing team who launched NutraSweet in the early 80’s.

I then did something bold (and a first-ever for me!) I cold-called the U.S. manufacturer of Goodnighties (a husband and wife team) to offer my professional Marketing Communication expertise and within a couple of weeks I found myself (after emailing ideas and phone calls) in a face-to-face meeting carving out an exclusive partnership to market and sell ‘Goodnighties Recovery Sleepwear’ and for all future things ‘Goodnighties’ on a world-wide level! It didn’t take a lot of research to recognize the demographic match to this product… which we know and still believe to be a huge world-wide audience. Baby Boomers are a big group- and this brand extends to pain sufferers too. Those with fibromyalgia and arthritis find Goodnighties amazing! I also brought my executive-level husband into the equation to manage the sales aspect of this unique brand. So now both of us are risking everything…and moving forward relaunching Goodnighties! We were starting at ground ZERO with new logo, new messages, and new website. May 2010. What happened next was unpredictable when you are gulping down Kool-Aid like we were- our friends were drinking it too! J Everyone was on board thinking this message would light like wild-fire through social media channels after all, who doesn’t know someone with sleep issues or aches & pains, but very quickly the obstacles surfaced….

Beginning with the top THREE things…

1. This is the HEADLINE; The whole world has VERY SHORT attention SPANS. I now think ADHD is contagious.

2. Our culture is conditioned into thinking that the only thing that will ever ‘work’ for sleep or aches and pains is a pill or an ‘ask-your-doctor’ solution.

3. There are lots of Internet ‘experts’ (from web building to social integration) almost like predators ready to take your $.

We were funding this venture ourselves and as ‘The Little Engine that Could’ we believed nothing could stop us!

So the first of several ‘3rd rail episodes’ happened – beginning with a very aggressive ‘jammie tester’ program! This involved distributing at least 150 Goodnighties product samples to friends (sisters-of friends) chemo patient friends of friends and women, who I believed at the time, would be socially involved helping us light the word through social channels. I became the ‘Jammie Santa’…. But found this was a very bad idea in the long-run … again back to my headline ‘short attention spans’… all testers love the product…but no one has time to help us let alone take the time to post- too much effort! It was also profound for me to find that even professional colleagues (the pictured ones on Linkedin that I’m connected to) think nothing of ignoring a message! This was really a heartbreaking eye opener for me!

The second episode occurred with the idea that we would be able to attract the attention of network talk shows…after all there are many varieties (from Oprah/Dr. OZ to The Doctors) and women love to ‘talk’- having a simple solution for better sleep was a no-brainer in my opinion! … again hired what we thought were experienced PR professionals to find that their ‘contacts’ were as good as mine only I was paying them a huge hourly rate to ‘make friends’ develop contact lists – this process very quickly became another expensive ‘channel’ which they called an ‘Evergreen approach’ … like anyone can afford that! (especially entrepreneurs!) The same headline here- very short attention spans and I have also found the ‘new’ never-happened-here effort is a simple ‘delete’ button…… Media and producers for programming targeted to women read nothing…it’s all about relationships to breakthrough. Even hitting a place like Hoda & Kathie Lee – ‘Smart Fabric’ is too big of a concept for them! Since I ‘took over’ PR … we are now starting to have some traction…but it is a brutal road (even if you are experienced…like I am) I pitch 24/7 and follow trails that would make anyone bleary-eyed! When we do unearth a responsive reporter our sales fly!

The third episode happened 4 months after our launch (August 2010) when I was talked into a ‘10 day seamless transition’ to move our beautiful custom-built website (another stupid idea) into a more socially friendly place- ‘a complete redo was necessary’…to incorporate face book, twitter and SEO- what happened next makes my hands shake to even type! This process with a ‘brilliant CTO’ ..turned out to be a very costly one… She built a difficult non-functioning cart- went ‘live’ without a security certificate- gave the green light for a PR newswire release…and we found ourselves with high-traffic and ZERO sales…hmm? could it have been the cart? This was a shake-down that took weeks to correct…like throwing a brick through our store window! I had to fire ‘brilliant CTO’ and start again Sept. 28, 2010. I then hired an independent computer person to come to my house and build WITH ME a completely new site within a 2 -3 day period…it was a panic and something I don’t even like to think about. I was horrified and professionally embarrassed by that situation. What I am happy to report to all who are reading this…all website ‘things’ can be learned and any entrepreneur should know all that is involved and use a website that has the ability to edit quickly (because you’ll never see your independent tech guy again!) websites are ‘fluid’ need to be changed and updated and YOU have to do it yourself! No shortcuts or tricks here….. I recommend a place that his live phone tech support to answer questions… that place for us has been www.bigcommerce.com – the monthly fee is a bit higher but worth it to be able to have someone to talk to! They also have great templates to plug in and upload all your relevant info. We have had very few ‘snags’ since going live with them Oct. 1, 2010.

Another surprising revelation is the idea of attracting the attention of ‘mommy bloggers’ another ‘no-brainer’ right? Wrong… what I have discovered, despite a declaration that it is a place for 40+ women I have found the optimal word here is ‘FREE’…. Even at the sake of providing their readers with fresh new meaningful content… with, I might add a special discount coupon created just for them…it still comes down to ‘gifts’ for bloggers. In my next life, I want to be a reviewer of ‘things’… assume like the rest of them – send my size & color preference… just leave at the door!

So now at the 1,400 mark for ‘words’ I would like to reflect on this ‘journey’ … I have found that creative problem solving is key….writing and rewriting …. Pitching new and different angles for your brand is key. I don’t even do press releases anymore because my messages change so quickly. I recommend being extremely short and concise with your writing and to know up front you may have to write and be persistent many times over. You will develop a thick skin about breaking through to reporters/writers – but if it’s the right place it will be worth it!

Despite serious expensive heart-stopping ‘3rd rail derailments’, Goodnighties is quickly chugging along – can honestly say we have many happy customers that repeat purchase and tell their friends! This approach is building and when we add a burst of national PR (which we have had) it really helps! If women hear about this product they buy… messaging is key! We have currently sold product in all 50 states and so far, 12 countries. We have distribution in major catalogs, (As We Change) are on health websites (ProHealth) and Goodnighties is sold at Miraval (Oprah’s favorite spa). Our reach is vast and we have also sold to extremely rural areas where women don’t have access to computers and call-in their order the old fashioned way! That part is pretty fascinating… We have lots of irons in the fire…. Something that is inevitable when you work like I do, 24/7— which is my plan until this thing starts ‘flying’…..I am motivated by the notes and calls we get from women who like me, are ‘over-the-moon’ about this fabric. That fact, plus knowing we are 100% Made in the USA are powerful factors that really keep me going…. I also am blessed to work with our terrific hardworking manufacturing partners, Marcia & David Bacon. Without their vision and expertise none of this would have been possible. Goodnighties is an extraordinary brand with enormous potential that is steadfast in my opinion.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and feel free to contact me anytime!

Sarah Baldwin
Vice President, Marketing
Goodnighties, Inc.

www.goodnighties.com
sarah at goodnighties.com
847-341-0459
Also here is my blog with a foundation (for survival) of sleep!

http://imamomgetmeoutofhere.blogspot.com

xo The International Laundress

 

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