This week we travel to Decatur, Georgia, to meet the lovely Katy Mallory, founder of the SlumberPod!
Q: Congrats on launching SlumberPod! What inspired you to create this business? What is your badass Mompreneur story?
A: You know the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention?” That was the case with SlumberPod. About six years ago, my husband and I were visiting my mom for Christmas with our then 16-month-old daughter. We had to share a room because the house was full of other family members. Our toddler was a great sleeper at home but struggled to stay asleep in the same room with us because the light was filtering through the blinds and she could see us across the room. After two sleepless nights, my husband and I decided to go home a day early. After that, I looked for some kind of privacy contraption to go over her crib and didn’t find anything that fit the bill. I started traveling with a homemade partition made from two cheap camera tripods and a sheet to string between them, which helped a little, but didn’t solve all our kiddo’s sleep problems.
A year and a half later, my mom was laid off from her job. She offered to help me while I was on maternity leave with twins. During our time together, she said: “Let’s get serious about fixing that sleep challenge you’ve been having.” And we started brainstorming, networking, sketching designs, and getting ourselves set up as a legal entity. My mom signed us up for a startup accelerator program and attended on our behalf. The accelerator held us accountable to get moving fast, a launchpad we’re incredibly grateful for. It’s wild to think that we started selling in July 2018 and now have appeared on Shark Tank and helped more than 10,000 families travel with less stress and more rest.
Q: Where do you live and do you recommend your city as a family travel destination?
A: I live in Decatur, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta), and thankfully my mom lives only an hour and a half down the road in Columbus, Georgia. Atlanta has a lot to offer and is a great, family-friendly destination in the Southeast.
Q: What’s your insider tip for families coming to your hometown? What are your favorite family-friendly hidden gems?
A: My insider tip is to stay near the Beltline, a former railway converted to a walking trail. Walking the Beltline is fun and interesting, not to mention the area is packed with fun and interesting (and family-friendly) restaurants, shops and breweries. The Beltline is also a quick drive to several fun Atlanta activities including the Georgia Aquarium (the biggest aquarium in the US!), the Atlanta Children’s Museum, the Atlanta Zoo, The World of Coke (the Coca-Cola Museum), and many more. I recommend getting an Airbnb or VRBO home or townhome in Inman Park, Grant Park or Virginia Highland so you can take in the neighborhood’s historic charm.
Q: Is family travel part of your life?
A: Absolutely! We have a big family that’s somewhat spread out location-wise so we are often in our Honda Odyssey minivan for weekend or long weekend trips. We are planning a trip to Chattanooga for part of my oldest daughter’s spring break. It’s a great, family-friendly destination and is only a two-hour drive from Atlanta. My husband Dan and I have done a decent amount of international travel (including Italy, France, Monaco, Canada, and Mexico) and look forward to taking our girls (nearly 7, 4 and 4) internationally sometime soon. Maybe even visit my sister-in-law in Switzerland!
Q: What is the most memorable trip you took with your kids?
A: Gosh, it’s a tie between Sea Pines in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, which has become an annual summer tradition for us, and yurt camping with neighbors in Cloudland Canyon, Georgia. The first location has become more special every year, as I’m a sucker for tradition, and the girls love the singer who sings to kids under the big oak tree, the beach, the ice cream shops, and the epic playground. Yurt camping is simpler – not to mention less expensive – and maybe it’s the simplicity we all loved so much. Instead of TVs and iPads and pizza delivery, it was running around with other neighborhood kids who were camping with us, playing cards and cooking kabobs and s’mores on a campfire.
Q: What’s your best advice for traveling parents?
A: I’d probably say to go with the flow as much as you can, to maintain the parts of your routine that help you feel sane and your child feel comfortable but to not sweat the small stuff. For example, maybe let your child stay up an hour later than usual, but keep the same bedtime routine as home.
Q: What is your favorite family travel product or service?
A: Aside from SlumberPod, we’re grateful for our subscription to Care.com as during a 4 or 5-day trip, we may want to do an adults-only dinner. Through Care.com, we’ve found several great babysitters with really positive reviews who’ve also had background checks.
Q: What item do you always pack in your carry-on?
A: Wet Wipes are the best! Clean sticky fingers (adults and kids), airplane trays, restaurant table tops, etc.
Q: How do you tackle the work-life balance (e.g., daycare, babysitting, schools, etc)?
A: Has anyone truly figured this out? If so, I need their tips! I think it’s about recognizing you’re not going to be the greatest at everything every day or every week. I’m a better wife than mom, or SlumberPod co-founder than friend. I catch up on phone calls with friends or professional connections during my commute. I run errands one-on-one with the girls to get some special time with them. Some days I outsource things I struggle to keep up with (sometimes laundry and cooking). I try to give myself some grace – no one can do or have it all.
Q: What are the advantages of being a Mompreneur while raising children vs. working for an outside entity? Disadvantages?
A: Just like most parents, I often feel like I have 20-plus internet browser tabs open in my brain. Days are busy. I do believe I’m setting a good example for my kids in terms of seeing an opportunity and going after it. I do marketing and communications at my day job and am appreciative that this journey has taught me a lot about other aspects of business, including but not limited to product development, intellectual property, manufacturing, and logistics. I wouldn’t be on this Mompreneur journey without my own mom and I’m grateful for both for what she brings to our business but also how she is a key person in our “village” and a wonderful friend.
Q: What’s your shameless plug?
A: If your child is under 4 or 5 years old and needs complete darkness to sleep well, SlumberPod is a fantastic solution. It’s a portable privacy pod that goes over your child’s play-yard, mini crib, toddler cot or inflatable mattress – giving your child their own dark and private sleep environment. It was designed with kids’ safety in mind, is made of breathable fabric, is very compact when not in use (it fits in carry-on luggage!) – and is mom-invented. We’re thrilled to help make hiding in the hotel bathroom while baby naps or falls asleep a thing of the past. But don’t just take our word for it, check out our Amazon and website SlumberPod reviews to hear how we’re changing families’ lives.
Home from your trip and now facing the dreaded jet lag? We’ve got you covered! Go ahead and check out our Expert’s Guide On Baby Jet Lag article and get the sleep you need AFTER your trip as well!