Strong Little Sleepers – Small Business Story

As a parent of a baby that isn’t wasn’t sleeping, I love Lori Strong of Strong Little Sleepers. She has been a life saver for our family, so I was excited to be able to talk to her more about her business and find out how she got into it. Read on to find out what she does and how she can save you if you have a non sleeper!

Tell me about your business.

I own Strong Little Sleepers– I’m a certified infant and child sleep consultant. Most people say, “I never heard of that!”  If you are a parent that has a child who is having trouble sleeping (from birth through age 6), I can help you.  I work with families who are expecting babies and teach them about how sleep changes in the first year and the best way to establish healthy sleep habits.  For families that already have children, I help in a variety of ways.  Some children have trouble putting themselves to sleep. Some may have difficulty getting on a good nap schedule. Others may be transitioning from a crib to a bed. Perhaps there are other bedtime battles that parents are facing. A lack of sleep can leave parents with a sense of desperation and without hope that things will ever get better.  I work with families through email, phone, and in-home visits to give them an easy to follow plan and support that will bring quality sleep (and sanity) to the entire household.  The best part about my job is seeing happy, well-rested children and transformed, no longer sleep deprived parents.

Why Austin for your business?

I moved to Austin 7.5 years ago when I was 34 weeks pregnant with my son, Jonah.  My husband accepted a job here and so we packed everything up and came here.  I was an elementary school teacher and a reading specialist for 8 years in New York and Pennsylvania and had only been to Austin once.  I loved the vibe and did get the feeling pretty quickly that it would be a great place to raise a family.  Right before my son was born, I was fortunate to meet a group of expecting moms who were pretty much in the same boat as me.  We supported each other throughout our pregnancies (and the ones that followed) and became a small village for one another.  Austin would have been a very different place without them.  Being able to give that type of support to other families was part of the reason I started Strong Little Sleepers.
There is such a great entrepreneurial spirit in Austin that just drives you to work hard. I know that sounds cheesy, but I have yet to meet a business owner in Austin that has not been supportive of me in one way or another. Many of them have been other moms as well.  Being supported really makes you want to pay it forward and help others succeed as well.
 
Do you use promo products?
I use rack cards and magnets and am currently in the process of brainstorming a very creative object that all parents will find useful when their children are sleeping.  I’m really excited about it, so you’ll have to stay tuned!
 
How has social media changed your business?
When I was teaching, social media didn’t exist.  There has been a learning curve for me as far as social media for business vs. casual social media.  I’m finding it very helpful in getting the word out about events and important sleep related news. It also puts me in contact with people that I wouldn’t necessarily meet through word of mouth referrals.
 
What is your favorite social media outlet for your business?
I’m a big fan of Facebook because I can share lots of information in one place. You can read my posts and check out events at the same time.  One of my goals this year is to be more social media savvy. I know I still have a lot to learn since things always keep changing.
 
What other ways do you market your business?
I hold classes at local baby events and stores.  I try to gear my classes to reach a variety of age groups– I’ve held basic sleep classes for expecting parents.  I also have a toddler class and am also going to be launching another class soon that will be a lifesaver for families with colicky babies.  It’s another certification that isn’t official yet, but hopefully will be soon.  I have also partnered up with some other local baby related businesses– Taste and See Healthy Baby Food and MetroMoms of Austin are two– and have worked with them during their events. I love being able to meet parents face to face and get to know them.
 
What is your favorite local business other than your own?
There are so many great ones!  I can’t just pick one.  My favorite non-profit local business is probably Ballet Austin.  I’ve always loved ballet and I was a dancer for 22 years.  My favorite smaller local business is probably Uchiko.  I think their roasted brussels sprouts have changed my life. My entire family loves the Alamo Drafthouse and Kerbey Lane Cafe.  We all love pancakes and hibiscus tea.
 
Any advice for other aspiring business owners?
I still feel as if I am aspiring, but what has really helped me is trying to keep things in perspective.  There is always a way to find balance even while working hard.  Whether it’s making sure that you spend more time with your family or taking time to take care of yourself, it’s easy to burn out especially when you work on your own, so you need to build in some time during your day to reflect.  Believe in what you are doing because if you don’t believe in it, you will never be able to get clients to believe in you.  Going the extra mile for a client, even if it costs you money in the short term, can really lead to big rewards in the future.  Do your best not to be afraid to be out there even when it is terrifying– that is something I have had to work hard at as I never thought I would own my own business and work for myself!

What else do you want to share about your business?I started Strong Little Sleepers because I experienced first-hand how hard it was to function as a sleep deprived parent.  I felt overwhelmed and like a failure because I had a child that did not sleep well when he came home from the hospital (as everyone had promised me he would).  I witnessed family members struggle with post-partum depression because of crying babies. Friends turned to me because they knew I had survived those sleepless nights and was able to change things for the better.  It was such a great feeling to be able to empower them with the ability to get better sleep for their children and themselves.  I am proud to be able to use my skills as an educator to support parents through a wonderful, yet difficult time in their lives– early childhood!  My services are extremely personalized and thorough and I can’t wait to work with even more families to help them get the sleep they deserve.

To find out more about Strong Little Sleepers, check out their website and Facebook page.

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