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Sleeping Beauty: the SleepDrops Story

NZentrepreneur December 2014

NZ entrepreneur
December 2014

Sleeping Beauty: the SleepDrops Story

Kirsten Taylor is a mum-preneur on a mission to save the world from bad sleep and stress. Her journey hasn’t been easy, but now with awards, international sales and an ever-growing customer base the SleepDrops story is about to go to another level.

Hi Kirsten, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. Let’s start at the beginning with your incredible journey.

Why did you start SleepDrops?

I had been making my sleep remedies for my private clients for years but had never taken them myself because I hadn’t had a sleeping issue and I hadn’t realised how important sleep is.
Then in 2009, just as the global financial crisis hit, I had a business partnership go wrong which left me with
literally nothing. After months of lying awake at night worrying about how I was going to get back on track and feed my son and myself, I suddenly remembered I had sleep remedies. So I got up one night, made one, took some drops and woke up nine hours later.
I was so surprised at how well it had turned off my anxiety, worries and fears from going around and around in my head and allowed me to sleep. About 10am that morning I suddenly realised
I wasn’t the only person lying awake worrying about finances. I knew I had to offer my remedies to New Zealand and I also thought, “Gosh, this might be a way to feed my family“.

Fantastic. How long have you actually been trading?

I put my first ad in The Aucklander in July of 2009. I kept the business as an internet only operation. People could either call in or order on line. I kept it that way deliberately for three years while I proved to myself that I could take a naturopathically developed system to support stress and sleep and turn it into solutions that worked for everyone — without a consultation.

I had to be sure that it would really work. More and more people started using the remedies and telling their friends and by November 2012 pressure was such that I knew it was time to move
into retail to make them more available. By that stage we had five products — real solutions for babies, kids and of course our three products for adults.

What are the SleepDrops exactly, for people new to the product?

SleepDrops is a world first, holistic, 24 hour integrative, sleep and stress support system with a mix and match componentry for individualised solutions.
The range combines herbs, homeopathy, flower essences and nutritional supplements. In a nutshell, I thought about all the reasons why people young or old are not sleeping and then combined all the appropriate remedies. This has been done in such a way that a synergy occurs with all of the ingredients making the remedies super effective without costing the earth and most importantly without causing herb/drug interactions or side effects for people.

Why do you think SleepDrops has had such great success in a heavily competitive market?

I think there are a few reasons why we have been so successful Firsfly, as a company we are completely dedicated to helping people control their stress and get them the best night’s sleep. We totally understand how stress and insomnia can affect peoples whole lives, taking away their joy, energy and vitality at all levels.
Secondly, we have made exceptional products in a way that no other company has ever done before. Once people get introduced to SleepDrops they can easily understand our three adult products and how they can use them in their lives.

We are not like other supplement companies simply making ’me too’ products or one hit wonders. I have deliberately made each product to do certain therapeutic actions in the body rather than trying to include everything in one product.
Because of this, the results people get are absolutely life- transforming. Our products work with the body to re- programme and re-balance it rather than forcing it to do something or just tackling the symptoms. Our products address the underlying cause of stress and insomnia and so the results are long lasting.
The third reason we have done so well is because of our marketing strategy. We have stayed focused on sharing information and letting people know why they need the products.

Because of therapeutic advertising laws we are not legally allowed to focus on the benefits or tell them what the product is doing to help their body, or even how it is helping them. Drug companies are allowed to do that, but natural health companies are not. So our message had to be more about why they should make SleepDrops.

What have you been your greatest lessons on your entrepreneurial path?

Ha, ha, ha. Business is not for the faint hearted.
I have learnt that I have to be resilient, driven and committed. I am extremely lucky that I get to wake up every day and help make the world a better place. I take huge pride in the fact that SleepDrops is an agent of change for our customers and for the planet.
We all deserve to have a GREAT night’s sleep and wake up refreshed, ready to go and happy. This passion has kept me going during the tough times, and believe me, there have been many. I have also learnt that, unfortunately, I can’t trust everyone.
There are people out there (you know who you are!) that will bulldoze right over the top of me, and my company without a second thought. I have learned that business is very personal, and that I am only prepared to do business with people and companies I like. It’s too hard otherwise. I have also learnt that during tough times our relationships with suppliers, manufacturers and magazines become really important.
These people will go to bat for me or extend credit for me to help me get through a tough patch. That is incredibly humbling because it means that they can see our integrity and that they also want to be a part of making SleepDrops succeed.

As a mother yourself, what wisdom would you pass on to mothers who are looking to start their own business dream?

Wow, this is such a big question. It is one that I wrestle with all the time. For a long time I didn’t have any money but I made sure that my son never knew how bad things were.
I think it‘s very important for parents to portray abundance and not set up negative programmes in our children’s minds such as “money doesn’t grow on trees, you know“.
There have been times when we have had to go without, but I have always shared with my son the highs of business, any milestones and
big successes. I even took him along to the Westpac Business awards night this year which was great because we won an award!
He got to be part of that, which is appropriate because he is very much a part of the SleepDrops story. Mothers should go for their dreams.
Start it off part-time while continuing to earn money, make sure you have all the bases covered, and slowly build it up.
Talk to your children about your dreams for your business. Get them to be a part of it.
Be a role model and live by example. Show them that you have to be brave and work hard to achieve your goals. They will see you succeeding and this gives them the fuel to go on and strive for their own dreams.

You are a great marketer of your product with multiple strategies. What lessons can you  pass on to other businesses in growth phase that you wish you knew when you started?

The biggest thing for me was to work out how I would get my message to the best market, with the least amount of stress and with the tiny budget I had. A company website has to be the most
important because it is the face of your company, it is the place that everyone will come to first. It doesn’t have to be fancy – you can hire a Uni student to make it for you if you need to.
You don’t have to have ecommerce hooked up to start with, but get something up there that will talk to your customers. The messages and feelings that your website portray are very important, so focus on that first.
So many people told us that our home page was ridiculous, that it was too long and that it had too much information but I knew that insomniacs worry. They worry about a lot of things and I didn’t want them to worry about SleepDrops, so I talked to them on the page.I let them know I understood their situation.

I was also told that my video was too long and that no one would watch it. But I knew that they would watch it. So my lesson would be to trust your own judgment. You know your market, your customer better than anyone. Trust your intuition. If you think it takes
six minutes to make your customers trust you then put the six minutes of effort in.
Marketing companies don’t always know best.
As businesses, there are so many bases we have to cover — websites, radio, magazines, TV, brochures, Facebook, Google ads,
Twitter — it’s exhausting and it’s hard to do it all, and do it well. So choose something you like doing and that you can teach yourself and do that. Choose the right channels for your product,
your market and your budget. For SleepDrops radio has always been really powerful.

What has been your greatest obstacle as an entrepreneur?

Lack of money. On the one hand it stifles creativity and on the other it forces you to be creative because you can’t just go out and hire a big agency.
We are lucky we work with an awesome guy at Creativeguru.co.nz who understands our products, brand and customers and who doesn’t charge the earth.

What has been your greatest moment as an entrepreneur? 

Carly Flynn from 60 minutes deciding she wanted to tell the world about SleepDrops.
Actually being on TV as a real solution for people suffering from insomnia. Yes, that was a biggie.

What does the future hold for SleepDrops? I sincerely hope it holds great things.

I want to get SleepDrops powder into every kitchen cupboard, SleepDrops for Adults on every bedside table and Daytime Revive in every handbag and on every executive desk in the world.
SleepDrops for Babies handed out at birthing units and SleepDrops for Kids popped into little mouths every night, along with a good bedtime story of course.
The sooner everyone becomes proactive and prioritizes their sleep the better. The science is overwhelmingly clear.
Sleep is THE foundation for all wellbeing. I love that SleepDrops can do so much to help people of all ages and influence not only their health but their happiness too!