I Launched a Start-Up with Two Kids Under Two (& We All Survived)

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The idea for my business practically hit me over the head three years ago. One evening before bed I walked past the mirror and happened to glance at my outfit. I almost laughed out loud at what I was wearing — my husband’s boxer briefs and an oversized Star Wars tee. Perhaps this is the kind of look people are referring to when they say someone has let herself go? That realization sent me on a journey to find sleepwear that would be both comfortable and beautiful.

Everything I found fell short. Lingerie felt like I was trying too hard to look sexy, which made things awkward (I’m married and want to be sexy but in more of an effortless kind of way). I also found plenty of frumpy options. Not to hate on plaid, but nothing says I’ve hung up my sex life like an oversize PJ set in holiday plaid.

So, I decided to create my own sleepwear line. I was sold on the idea, but I sat on it for a few years out of fear of failure and a million other excuses. I had no clothing industry experience so what did I know about launching this kind of a company? I continued to procrastinate until the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child. If I couldn’t take the risk without kids, how would I ever do it with them? So I took the leap, and founded Lunya in October 2012.

Getting my company off the ground was hard work. I was a one-woman show, hoping to get things rolling before my pregnancy slowed me down. I called everyone I knew in the fashion industry and asked them all sorts of dumb questions. I drove all over town trying to work out how to actually manufacture clothing. I was filled with doubt. Is this really going to work? I wondered. Am I being naive about starting this NOW? Buoyed by my husband, my friends, and my family, I decided to push forward, one foot in front of the other — although let’s be real, it wasn’t long before I couldn’t even see my feet at all.

Hiring my first employee six months later made a world of difference. I had a team! Then in June 2013, right in the midst of producing our first line, I gave birth to my son Linken.

Caring for my newborn left me deeply exhausted; by the time Linken was a few weeks old, I felt like I had aged 10 years. My husband and I were left thinking: What did we do? How did we so greatly underestimate this whole parenting thing? How does the whole world manage to do this? A month after my son was born, I started working again. There’s no maternity leave for entrepreneurs. Thank goodness for working from home and being fortunate enough to have help (although people rarely admit to having help, “doing it all” is a lie that I won’t help propagate).

When Linken was around 4-months-old, things started to get a little easier. I began to adjust to life as a parent, he began to sleep better, and he started to smile. I was falling more and more in love with him. I decided it was a good time to try to get pregnant again (perhaps because of some kind of hormone-fueled energy burst?!). I naively bought into the whole “done with diapers at one time” thing.

During my second pregnancy, my business progressed into closed beta and we began to make sales to friends and family. I was finally feeling like I could keep my head above water! I assumed that when my daughter was born I would be way more prepared. My business was moving forward, and I had this whole parenting thing down now, right? As usual, I greatly underestimated what I had taken on. It was the little things that I struggled with, like how to carry two babies up the stairs at once and how to give the baby the attention she needed and deserved while my toddler was throwing a tantrum. Once again, I was majorly overwhelmed. I had no idea what I was doing.

In addition to the genius move to have two adorable, sweet babies practically on top of one another, I decided to officially launch Lunya in November 2014 to catch the holiday season.

What did early-stage entrepreneurship look like for me? Lunya started in my home with employees sitting around my dining room table, ignoring the kids’ meltdowns in the background. We would hold meetings nonchalantly while my breast pump chugged away.

Being an entrepreneur is not nearly as sexy as I had envisioned — but, even in spite of all the chaos, I cherish this time.

Today Lunya is expanding and growing. We have our headquarters and showroom in Santa Monica, and our team is growing fast to create an amazing product that will help women everywhere get their sleep together.

And yes, I still have moments of doubt. I think: Should I be with my kids? Will I regret this when I’m older? Then I remind myself that I’m very lucky; I have the opportunity to live my dreams. I’m more tired than I ever imagined possible, but I’m also very proud to think that one day my kids will know that they were the catalyst for my self-actualization. They’ll also know that you can have a family and a career if you want both — although I do recommend spacing them out just a little.

Photo: Baby Bird Photography