I was recently asked to write a blog for SargesList about how I started this awesome little company. So here’s a modified version:
I read somewhere that most people have their “big” ideas while they’re doing something else: working, washing dishes, etc. Mine came to me while I was driving. But let’s start at the beginning.
We live 17 hours away from our families and the birth of my daughter was the first grandchild on my side, and the third on my husband’s. Both sets of families were equally as excited and planned immediate visits. Charlotte’s due date was February 16th, and I was convinced I was going to go early. Sweet Charlotte had other plans. By the 23rd my parents were floating in Asheville after a few days in Memphis, and waiting for the call. There was little room for flexibility as my in-laws were arriving the first week in March. Charlotte arrived early morning on the 25th, after a storm that was Shakespearean in nature (Shakespeare often used weather as an added character to set the scene, and this storm fits Charlotte’s personality exactly: strong).
Craig had 10 days off and they were eventful: my family arriving, then leaving, his family arriving, then leaving, and then his returning to work. I will never forget the look on his face when he came home from work that day. We knew they were leaving in a few weeks for a three-month long training exercise. What we didn’t know was that he was going advon, and would be leaving only a few days later. My heart sank. I held this tiny baby, crying, (me, not her) I called my mom who immediately flew back out and we drove to Illinois together. I drove almost the whole way (because I’m a control freak) and my mind ran wild with concern about how my daughter would know who her father was: he had just left for three months, he would return in May only to leave again for over a month in June/July, then deploy for seven months in the fall.
I thought to myself that a book would help. But not just any book. It would have to be her book. It needed to show our family, Craig’s uniform and looks, and it had to be good. I had many details worked out in my head by the time we got back to IL and I created a shotty business plan. My brother had just graduated from Harvard Business School about a year prior, and is a straight-shooter, so I knew he would tell me if I had a good idea. We had our first “meeting” on the living room floor of my parents house: my dad, my brother, and myself. I told him my idea and I could see the wheels turning in his mind. I then showed him my plan, as well as the research I had done. He finally spoke: “This is great. What if we could create an environment where every child was the star of the book…” and he started spouting off ideas and I typed so frantically, and quickly, thanking God my parents encouraged me to take a typing class in high school.
It wasn’t that easy though…and being a teacher, not a business major, I had to figure out a lot of things at a slower pace. I registered the name Daddy’s Deployed as an LLC and then started working with illustrators and graphic designers. It took about six months from concept to initial product, and we have changed the story several times since we started. At first there were less options, but we wanted to reach more families, so we perfected Mommy’s Deployed, added multiple children per book, options for family day outings (beach, zoo, park, etc), deploying venues, and the list continues on as our product is ever changing.
As we move forward and near year two (this August) of being an active company, I am always thinking of where we’re headed next. For DD/MD we are organizing corporate partnerships so that we can get our product into the tiny hands that desperately need it faster and cheaper, without compromising the quality. We’re currently in the planning stages on a product for teens, something extraordinarily near and dear to my heart, with my background in teaching high school English. Stay tuned!