As a mother of two, Lynette Damir, RN, is living proof that mothers are the necessity of invention. While visiting friends and family members who had new babies, Damir was inundated with requests to show new parents how to swaddle their newborns.
“The blankets they were using were typically too small or too thick, and none of the parents knew how to make a good secure swaddle,” Damir said. “After researching all the baby blankets on the market, I realized there were no large, square blankets available. I decided to create one that also came with a pictorial swaddling instructional label.”
Damir’s idea led her to form SwaddleDesigns, a Seattle-based company, now celebrating its 10th year. With her husband, Jeff, who has helped her build the business, SwaddleDesigns now boasts 25 employees and more than 1,000 items that are available online and in stores nationwide and in many countries around the world. In addition to her original swaddle blanket, Damir’s company sells many other everyday essentials and layette accessories through retailers including Buy Buy Baby, Amazon.com and Nordstrom.
A former orthopedic nurse at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle and a graduate of The Art Institute of Seattle, Damir found that creating the perfect swaddle blanket used both her nursing background and her creative and design talents.
“Nurses possess many skills that are useful in business,” Damir said. “We’re used to hard work, critical thinking and problem-solving, which are all good attributes when starting your own business.”
While Damir still keeps her nursing license current, she now works full time as the CEO and creative director of SwaddleDesigns. As she continues to grow her business, Damir offers these tips to nurses who have a product idea to get them started.
1. Do your research
“Having a good idea isn’t enough,” Damir said. “You need to ensure your product fills a gap in the marketplace.” As she was developing the idea for her swaddle blanket, Damir found several research studies that confirmed babies who are securely swaddled sleep better and cry less.
“Swaddling also allows babies to sleep securely on their backs which is the recommended sleep position to reduce risk of SIDS,” Damir said. “It also reduces awakenings caused by startle reflex.”
To develop a blanket that aligned with safe sleeping practices for infants, Damir also met with physicians, infant researchers and others. She found parents and healthcare practitioners loved the idea of a swaddle blanket that also came with a teaching component. Her first client, a major hospital, purchased 4,000 swaddle blankets.
2. Find a business partner
“It’s important to have a partner who possesses a skill set that complements yours and can help bring your product to market,” Damir said. For her, that person was her husband, Jeff, who received his MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. For others, a good starting point can be contacting the U.S. Small Business Administration at www.SBA.gov, and applying for a product patent through the U.S. Patent Office, www.USPTO.gov.
3. Stay true to your values
As Damir expanded her line to include other products for infants and their families, she worked to ensure they were all useful, functional, everyday essentials designed with baby’s best interest in mind. Because it’s recommended that babies be swaddled only until 3 or 4 months of age, she also developed a zzZipMe Sack, a wearable blanket featuring a two-way zipper.
“I strongly believe in teaching parents to swaddle a newborn baby using a large, square blanket is the best approach,” Damir said. “When their baby is 3 to 4 months old, they can transition to a wearable blanket.”
4. Hire doers
“When you’re starting a company, you want to hire people who have a great work ethic and who believe in your product and mission,” Damir said. “There are talkers and there are people who will ‘get it done.’ You want to hire smart people who can really do the work that needs to be done.”
For information, visit www.SwaddleDesigns.com.