Monday, September 12, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Tangela Walker-Craft, Creator of the GoPillow

The Go Pillow by Simply Necessary, Incorporated is a must have for all nursing mothers. Its uses are so vast that any caregiver will fall in love with it. It can be used from birth well into the toddler years. It uses include but are not limited to:

  • Breast feeding pillow with built-in privacy cover-up

  • Pillow and body wrap for babies

  • Portable toddler pillow and blanket

  • Portable diaper changing surface

  • Sun and wind shield for babies and toddlers

  • Arm cushion for carrying babies and toddlers

  • Extra hand during diaper changes etc.

  • Arm warmer during cold weather

  • Travel Pillow for all ages

  • Here is another mom entrepreneur I stumbled upon and fell in her love with her unique product, the GoPillow.  What I love most about her pillow is the many uses it has, and that can be used from birth through even adulthood. I know as a busy mom and mom on the go, I am always looking for products that I can pack or carry with me that serve multiple purposes. I don't have time to go around and pack various items, and also don't have the space.  Now, a busy mom like myself only has to pack this GoPillow and I can use it for breastfeeding, as a diaper changing station, pillow for my toddler and so much more.  What a novel idea!  If you never heard about the GoPillow, you must head on over to Tangela's website to learn more.  The GoPillow makes a great baby shower gift, or gift for a new mom.

    After you are done checking out Tangela's website and learning more about her GoPillow, please enjoy my interview with her below. 

    Name:  Tangela Walker-Craft
    Company Name/Product/Service: Simply Necessary, Incorporated makers of the GoPillow! (Multipurpose Breastfeeding Pillow)
    Company Location: Lakeland, Florida
    Twitter Handle: @TangelaWCraft
    Age of Company:  5 years
    Favorite Inspirational Quotes:   “With God all things are possible.”
     (Matthew 19:26)
    Favorite Book: The Bible, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

    Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have? What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc. 

    I’m married to Ernest Craft, III.  We have been married for almost 20 years.  We have a daughter, Emari (age 9).

    I like to read, write prose and poetry, and watch classic movies.  My family and I check out DVDs of classic television series from the public library and watch them together.  I love Disney World and Disney shows (especially classic Disney).  My family and I spend as much time as possible at the Disney parks in Florida.

    Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about?

    I invented and patented the BEST multi-purpose baby product that a mom or caregiver could ever have.  It is especially useful for modest breastfeeding moms.  I started Simply Necessary, Incorporated to market and sell the GoPillow!

    I invented the GoPillow! because my daughter was born in the summer with a head full of hair.  Each time I would breastfeed her, the back of her neck along the hairline would perspire and my arm would be damp.  I decided that I needed an arm cover - not just for breastfeeding, but for cradling my baby.  I told my husband about an idea that I had.  He and I began playing around with various versions of an arm pillow.

    I was watching a child product segment on a talk show when they plugged a website and explained that the company bought ideas from parent inventors.  I emailed the site and asked for submission requirements and sent in my idea.  The owner contacted me; she loved the idea.  After finding out that I was a stay-at-home mother trying to replace my previous teaching salary she asked me if I could come up with my own "start up funds".  She told me how to get the product made and how to market it myself.

    The original intent of the pillow was for cradling babies for feedings. I knew it would also be an excellent travel pillow for moms and kids. The idea for adding the privacy blanket came later.  It was added after I was caught in a crowded area during a rainstorm at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  My husband hid me with his shirt so that I could nurse my daughter discreetly.  We realized then that a privacy blanket would separate my pillow from other nursing pillows.  A privacy blanket that was accessible when needed, but stored away when not in use was not available on existing breastfeeding pillows.  The GoPillow! solved several problems for mothers when away from home with a baby or toddler. They are professionally manufactured and packaged.

    What is a typical work day like?

    I home school my daughter so my work day usually starts with getting her breakfast and getting her started on her school work.  Once she’s situated, I check email and respond to any messages or inquiries.  I usually check my Facebook and Twitter pages to see what’s happening. The rest of the day is spent on the computer, on the phone, and processing orders and preparing packages to ship.  I juggle taking care of my home, home schooling my daughter, and running my business.

    What has been a struggle while starting up your company?

    Getting national retailers to look at my product has been the biggest challenge so far.  National retailers only want to give products a chance when there’s already a big demand for them.  Even though it has endorsements from nurses, lactation consultants, travel experts, and moms all over the world, I still can’t afford to pay for big budget advertising.

    What did you do in your past work life?

    My previous employment history includes working as a multi-grade level Language Arts Instructor.  I taught in the public school system for seven years after leaving private industry as a sales representative.  I have employment experience as a Telemarketing Sales Representative, an Accounts Receivable Collector, and as a Technical Writer for a subcontractor to the Department of Energy.

    What have been some of your major successes?

    The GoPillow! has been endorsed by Nurse Practitioner, Barbara Dehn and several other health care professionals.  The GoPillow!  was selected to be included in the Health for Women Gift Guide by the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN).  It has been endorsed by a Board Certified Lactation Consultant on the website.  The GoPillow! has been featured on local and national television shows, in national magazines, and on numerous websites and blogs.

    What have been some of your major challenges?

    Because I’m a mompreneur people assumed that the GoPillow! is somehow inferior to nationally recognized products.  I have had to work hard to show store that the GoPillow! is BETTER than other baby pillows. Competing against big companies that can advertise on television regularly has been a major challenge.Though it’s hard to believe, racism has also been a challenge.  Some boutique owner’s have told me directly that using my daughter’s picture on my product packaging is the reason their customers might not give the GoPillow! a chance.

    On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?

    My husband and daughter are my biggest cheerleaders.  I have a few very close friends that have supported me from day one.  Repeat customers and email messages from moms across the country and around the world telling me how much they love the GoPillow! keep me going.

    What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?

    I use business transactions as teachable moments for my daughter.  We run the business as a family.  Balance is kept by making business a family affair, but also knowing when to put business aside and just spend time enjoying life.  Weekends are family time.  I try to go to places where I can’t answer the phone or check email.

    What is next for your business?

    I would like to get the GoPillow! into retail stores where all moms can see and purchase it.  I would like to license the GoPillow! eventually. I have ideas for other products that I would like to bring to market.

    Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?

    Take advantage of social networking site.  Twitter and Facebook are excellent ways to make business connections and get your company noticed.  Don’t rush into anything.  Be thoughtful and do your homework.  Know your product or service better than anyone else.  Be familiar with your competition and know why your product or service is better than anyone else’s.  Learn from others that are already doing well.

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