Congratulations on being named the SBAs 2017 Exporter of the Year! What does this recognition mean to you?
Overall, I feel humbled. The Safety Sleeper is a very niche product, and this honor has been a springboard to help us further create awareness of our product. Weve primarily reached our audience through social media. Its through parents around the world tirelessly searching for answers at the early hours of the morning and stumbling across our Facebook page.
This social media support system helped us earn the SBA recognition, and today, weve shipped to 12 countries, including Australia, Norway, and the U.K., and have distributors in five countries. Weve gradually increased sales year after year, selling more than 300 in the last year alone. Its unbelievable to see how weve grown from selling 11 Safety Sleepers in our first year. Im just excited to share our story and provide peace of mind for parents.When you started Abrams Nation, did you ever anticipate that Safety Sleeper would have this level of impact?
Safety Sleeper started out of a mothers necessity. My son Abram was diagnosed with autism at 14 months, and he started climbing out of his crib around 18 months. He wouldnt sleep, and overnight trips out of the house became very difficult. It was stressful not knowing the best way to keep my son safe.
After Abram managed his way out of the crib we had designed, I was casually talking with friends about a new design. I didnt think much of it at the time, but a few months later, I came back to them and asked how serious they were about actually making a design. As it turns out, they already had one made.
With a few modifications, the prototype that would become The Safety Sleeper was better than anything we ever had before, and most importantly, my son was safe and sleeping better. At the time, I was a few months pregnant with baby number three, and I was thankful for having The Safety Sleeper for myself. Later down the road, I became overwhelmed with the feeling that I couldnt be the only one who needed The Safety Sleeper. I felt like I had a friend who helped me, so I should be a friend to others.
So I worked on the business during my kids nap time, and with a lot of support and advice, Abrams Nation has become what it is today. And now that Ive caught the business bug, were working on some more products to help families with special needs. Why are you proud to be a Pennsylvania small business owner?
We took a bit of a backward approach to starting Abrams Nation. We had already established the business before we realized the great resources that were available to us right here in Pittsburgh.
We started off with SCORE, which is a group of experienced business people who volunteer their time to support startups. From there, we met people who worked for the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), and people from DCEDs Ben Franklin Technology Partner Innovation Works. The city really connected us with a network of people who have the experience and expertise to help small businesses.
Its also an added benefit that Pittsburgh is home to so many prestigious universities. Whether its the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University or Chatham University, theyve all worked as really great partners with us. In particular, weve worked with the University of Pittsburghs Swanson School of Engineering to test The Safety Sleeper and help make it more portable.
The Office of International Business Development (OIBD) — housed within DCED — was instrumental in assisting us in our export initiatives. In 2016, we had the opportunity to participate in Bringing the World to PA in Pittsburgh. The event allowed us to meet with Authorized Trade Representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, and The Netherlands.
The resources here have connected us with people who have such genuine, good hearts and want to help, and weve truly enjoyed working with them.