Dec. 3, 2012
-- How did a very small business started by two moms in their basements deal with the slew of technical regulations required? It helps when one is a chemical engineer and the other is a geochemist.
One never knows where life will lead and when past experiences will become important – the owners of Clouds and Stars have learned both of these lessons - navigating the winding path of entrepreneurship as they push toward even bigger success with their QuickZip Sheets. Joan Henehan, a chemical engineer, and Elizabeth Sopher, a geochemist, met working in the environmental industry, and then took sharp career turns when they launched Clouds and Stars with the QuickZip® – an innovative crib sheet they designed for safety and convenience. The QuickZip® has been heralded as a “must have” by the media and their evangelical customers and has led to product line expansions now including the QuickZip® for juvenile and adult sizes, sheets for portable play yards, as well as mattress pads.
One thing neither Elizabeth nor Joan imagined was the extensive range of skills that has been required to achieve this level of success. They have handled every aspect of the business, from design, manufacturing, financing, marketing, sales, QC and regulatory compliance, and this last task, regulatory compliance, may be the only skill that they could call on from their previous careers. They never expected to be reviewing chemical data from laboratories, reading the Federal Register and thinking through compliance programs when they sewed the first QuickZip® Sheet. They, like every business, have to understand and evaluate the full range of potential regulations that may apply to their product, no matter how unrelated a regulation may seem at first, and determine how to comply. Through their experience with chemical terminology, like phthalates, Joan and Elizabeth were not put off when the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) regulations came out. They read the regulations, kept up on the commentary in the press, thought through how they may be impacted, evaluated vendors and third party laboratories, estimated costs, and added the appropriate requirements to their purchase orders. As with other challenges in building their business, handling the seemingly overwhelming compliance requirements is like a staircase that can be surmounted by putting one foot in front of the other, they amassed the necessary information and resources and took each step, one at a time.