604
11 min 49 sec

Military-Themed Teddy Bears Help Kids Hibernate

An ad executive turned teddy bear manufacturer creates a military-grade sleep system for children, earning $100,000 in sales and making a lot of people beary happy.
High Profit Kids Manufacturing Product

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What It's About

Teddy bears that are trained to keep the nightmares at bay!

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Research & Design
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

Justin still insists on asking his audience for help and believes in Facebook as a great way to receive immediate feedback. He says it’s a great platform to ask questions and get real-time responses. When he posts a question regarding a product they’re developing he gets hundreds of replies.

Fun Fact

Justin once received a 20-foot container from China full of bears at his front door and had to unload 4,000 bears down his driveway into his house. He says the laundry room became the assembly room and his garage became the warehouse. Justin used to hand assemble every bear and retail box in his living room—sometimes 750 at a time!

Notes from Chris

Episode 604
Justin Baum is the full-time Creative Director for the in-house advertising agency at Lenovo—the second largest PC company on the planet. His company developed Thinkpad computers, Moto phones, and much more. But before his job at Lenovo, from 2005 - 2012, he was the lead writer of recruitment advertising for the United States Marine Corps.

It was while working here that Justin was stirred by the men and women serving in uniform that made him want to give back. Inspired by his own daughter’s difficulty sleeping through the night, Justin had an idea.

He decided to bring his daughter home a teddy bear in a marine sweatshirt. He then told her a story, introducing him as a marine bear who has protected the nation for more than 200 years. “Now, he’s ready to protect you while you sleep.”

“Well, what if he falls asleep?” his daughter asked.

Justin reassured her. “He’s a marine. He would never fail at his mission!” That night, as Justin put it, his daughter slept like a bear in hibernation. A light bulb went off in Justin’s head. If this worked for his daughter, perhaps it could work for other children.

He developed the idea of Sgt. Sleeptight—a full-fledged military grade sleep system that protects children from bad dreams, fear of the dark, and the nighttime anxieties that come from having a deployed parent.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill teddy bear. Sgt. Sleep tight comes equipped with a door hanger warning nighttime monsters that he’s on guard. A sleep tight oath to be read with your child before bed, which officially puts your bear on duty. And a Silver Slumber Star to be awarded to your child for sleeping through the night.

The project was called ZZZ Bears.

When first starting out, Justin had no idea how to get a teddy bear made. So, he did what most of us do when we want to figure something out—he Googled it. This led him to Alibaba, the gateway to manufacturing in the East. He typed in “teddy bears” and got back hundreds of manufacturers. He narrowed his search to ones with experience making military uniforms. Justin found one willing to do a small run of 200 orders.

About a month later the bears arrived safely on his front door. Fortunately, that supplier was honest… unfortunately, his quality was good but not great. And these bears deserved greatness!

In order to scale his business, he needed a better manufacturer. He used the power of Facebook, connecting with another plush product designer named Juan, who had just gotten his product into Walmart. Justin formed a friendship with him, and Juan referred him to his manufacturer. This was two years ago and Justin still uses the same one today.

So, what’s next for this ZEO of ZZZ Bears? Justin says 2019 will be a pivotal year. He’s grown to 7 SKUs already which makes inventory management and cash flow a real tough balancing act. In 2017 he did just over $100,000 in sales with $10,000 in profit.

Justin still insists on asking his audience for help and believes in Facebook as a great way to receive immediate feedback. He says it’s a great platform to ask questions and get real-time responses. When he posts a question regarding a product they’re developing he gets hundreds of replies. It just goes to show you that there's no bear-ier to entry!


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • ZZZ Bears: Thanks to Justin and ZZZ Bears, there's no need to fear the dark—head over to his website to learn more!
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Growing up, my mom used to tell me how good I was at everything—from drawing and baseball to brushing my teeth. I now realize it was a well-meant lie. Nobody is good at everything. So, be brutally honest in assessing your strengths and weaknesses—then get help. There are plenty of subject matter experts out there. Find the ones you need, put them to work, and stay focused on what you do best. P.S. - I love you, Mom."
—Justin Baum #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau