How Jessica Jackson is achieving better sleep for both parents and their babies through The Mookabee Swaddle
Describe your business in a few words?
The Mookabee Swaddle is committed to helping babies (and ultimately their parents!) achieve better sleep by utilizing the proven power of a parent’s scent. 10% of all profits are donated to Saving Mothers- a non profit dedicated to improving maternal health worldwide.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Despite the baby market being saturated with sleep products, the number one concern among new parents is the lack of sleep they face, and many struggle with the worry that they aren’t properly bonding with their baby. I wanted to create a product that would allow a mom or dad to feel like they could continue to provide comfort to their baby without necessarily having to be present in the room with them.
My lightbulb moment came when my youngest daughter was a baby, she would only sleep if she was on me. One day after reading numerous “tips” on how to help your baby sleep, I put an old shirt of mine in her crib so she could smell me while napping. She slept better than ever before but I knew having something loose in the crib went against safe sleep guidelines.
I started researching the science behind the power of scent and discovered when a baby smells mom, their cortisol levels are lowered, which leads to better sleep. I knew I could come up with a safer option so babies (and parents) could enjoy longer, more restful periods of sleep – something we are so desperate for in those early days!!
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to launching the Mookabee, I spent many years working in advertising before I switched over to the client-side as a marketing director for the Fertility Institute of NJ & NY- an amazing group of Reproductive Endocrinologists. I’m also a mom to two girls, which is by far the most challenging but rewarding job of all!
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I’ve always believed if you have a good idea, and it doesn’t exist, then why not create it? My mom is a James Beard nominated chef & restaurant owner. She went to culinary school when I was in college and was named Valedictorian of her class. She showed me that it’s never too late to go after something and follow through with whatever dream you have, it just requires some extra grit and determination. So in a way I think that entrepreneurial spirit was engrained in me from a young age.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
The Mookabee is brand new to the market, and our belief is no one is better than spreading the word than moms! Social media and word of mouth have been the most powerful tools in increasing brand awareness. We’ve seen a lot of sales early on from moms sharing their testimonials with other moms (and dads).
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
The biggest challenge so far was realizing – post production! – that we wanted to include an additional element to the swaddle. It was a piece that I knew would ultimately make it better, and as perfect as possible, but it was already packaged and ready to go. While our factory was amazing and managed to basically unpack our entire stock of inventory and get it back on the production line to ensure it was exactly how we wanted it – it did come at a cost. Our unit costs increased and our shipment was delayed by a few months. We had contracts with retail partners that fell through because of this delay, however, I truly feel like this is now the perfect swaddle. I learned my lesson, and next time it will be done in the right order!
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
My biggest accomplishment has been securing a partnership with Saving Mothers, an organization dedicated to improving maternal health worldwide. I had near-fatal complications after my daughter was born so this cause is near and dear to me. Most people are shocked to know that each year around the world, more than 300,000 women and girls die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. I knew I wanted to create the Mookabee to help babies (and their parents) get better sleep, but I also wanted it to have a positive social impact, which is why we donate a portion of all profits to Saving Mothers. I’m proud to have a small part in a much bigger mission. It truly feels like my business and personal goals have aligned.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
A simple question can also be the most telling, so my go to in an interview is “How do you handle a bad day?” The answer can reveal if a person is solution-oriented, seeks help from others, turns inwards etc..
The best advice I would give others, when hiring, is to look for “learn it alls not know it alls.” If the members of your team are willing to dive in and figure out the best ways to help grow the business, you’re more likely to succeed.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Because of COVID, we faced many supply chain issues. Different elements of the Mookabee Swaddle are sourced from all over the world before production actually begins, and COVID caused the delivery of those materials to be delayed. We manufacture our swaddle and accessories at two different factories, in two different countries – both of which shut down for months. Once reopened they were forced to limit their staff to ensure proper social distancing, as well as allocate resources to creating PPE, all of which made it very difficult to meet the deadlines we had in place.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Our goal is to continue to grow our brand awareness and secure more retail opportunities so that we are able to help babies and families all over the world experience better sleep!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Perseverance. This year has forced us to overcome so many obstacles in our personal as well as professional lives. You just have to keep pushing forward and eventually there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
That it will take more time and money than you originally thought. Starting a business definitely requires patience and resilience. So when planning always give yourself some wiggle room.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I started documenting a minimum of three things I’m grateful for every day. Even if it’s something little, like a really good cup of coffee or nice weather. It allows me to focus on the positives during what has been a really unpredictable year. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when there’s so much that is out of our control, but recognizing that there are still reasons to be thankful help to keep me grounded. I also write everything down on paper so I have a visual of what my week looks like!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Yes I think a work/life balance is crucial, especially when you have kids. It’s harder to turn off when you run your own business and you’re involved in all areas of it. It can be very consuming! I make sure to take breaks from my work and leave my phone and laptop in the other room so I can give my family my undivided attention. We also have a family dinner most nights so it gives us time to connect and talk about our day.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a fear of public speaking! So to get myself in the right headspace before big meetings I listen to Eminem’s song Lose Yourself from 8 mile. My daughter always says to me, “Mom! Listen to your pump up song!”
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) Make a list of what you NEED to accomplish, and what you WANT to accomplish. Tackle the needs first and then start on the wants.
2) Give yourself a separate work space. Now that so many of us are working remotely, it’s challenging to stay focused when you’re surrounded by clutter.
3) Get proper sleep! I’m always more productive after a good night’s rest.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means showing my daughters that girls can do anything they put their mind to if they work hard enough and believe in themselves.
Wow. Great job and wonderful attitude!