I’m Sophie, one half of the Sleep Thief Team. In my life before motherhood, I worked across a number of industries (events, finance, sports hospitality) and a long time before that, I graduated from Nottingham University with a BA in Archaeology, a subject I chose for my love of history but dislike of writing essays (I’m dyslexic and writing just isn’t my strong suit so apologies in the advance for the quality of this blog!).
After university I took my own version of what is probably a familiar journey for a number of readers, moving from job to job every few years, always liking, but never loving the work I was doing, before getting married and getting pregnant with my beautiful daughter Agatha. At this point in the story I met the wonderful Effie, the other half of Sleep Thief, the yin to my yang. We first saw each other at a pregnancy yoga class, yoga being something I had never previously got into a I generally prefer charging about rather than staying stationary while doing exercise. It turns out however, that when pregnant, any excuse to sit and relax must be taken advantage of, so yoga was ideal. I especially enjoyed the nap time, sorry, breathing exercises, as the end of each class! Anyway, Effie stood out as someone who looked like she totally fitted into this zen-like world and seemed completely relaxed with everything. I on the other hand looked like a sweaty mess, it turns out yoga is actually more challenging than I thought.
We then met again at our ante-natal classes. My husband and I selected the classes because they were in a pub, 30 seconds from our front door, where we knew the bar staff and that they would order us dinner to be ready post-class, which was the actual dream. They were also very good classes but for us that was just an added bonus. To be frank, I think most of the time people do these classes to “buy” friends to spend time with when they have new babies and no idea what is going on, but little did I know that I would meet one of my very best friends, a brilliant, kind and endlessly generous woman who would also become my business partner.
We got chatting at the classes and over WhatsApp and then our daughters were born three weeks apart. Effie gave birth first and was completely together by the time I saw her again with my sprog in tow. It was at an ante-natal class meet up, a week after Agatha had been born and I had been forced out of the house due to the chaos of builders and renovations (that’s a story for another blog!). So, over lunch we bonded over sleepless nights, dirty nappies and the general trials and tribulations of being a new mum. This continued over late night messages, baby cinema trips (my absolute favourite thing to do with a young baby) and countless cups of coffee. Gradually the people from the group moved away and returned to work but Effie and I spent almost every day together. I genuinely think I see more of her than I do of my husband!
It was during these many hours that we kept discussing the nightmare that is the sleepsuit done up with poppers. I loathe them. They are the bane of my parenting life. I have spent so much time doing them up, realising I have done them up wrong and starting again, I could have become fluent in a new language or watch the director’s cut of all the Lord of the Rings films ten times. It’s time I will never get back and that makes me a little bit angry to be honest.
We both, however, owned a couple of babygrows, which did up with zips. These were so much easier, however, they still had their own pitfalls. The zip ran from one shoulder, across the body and down the opposite leg. This meant that the top half of the suit could be kept on for changing, however, you had to hook your baby’s leg up and over into the other leg to dress them again. This seemed uncomfortable and was also quite hard to do. And so the first seeds were sown for the idea of a zipped babygrow with the rainbow zip. Wouldn’t it be sensible to have a zip that ran from ankle to ankle so you could simply unhook the feet and push it up to change the nappy, thus keep your baby warm whilst changing?
We also spoke about other features we would love a suit to have. Foldable feet so that you didn’t have to move up a size or chop off the feet as soon as your child’s feet got too big. Agatha is also quite little, so when she started to walk, the feet of her sleepsuits would slide out behind her and she would fall over. With foldable feet, she could be barefoot and thus have grip on our kitchen floor. A large envelope neckline so that the suit could be whipped off down over the feet in the event of a major nappy leak. Super soft organic cotton, that was ethically sourced and would really last, so that the impact of fast-growing children needing new clothes wasn’t so big. I have always tried to be quite environmentally conscious but in recent years and with the birth of Agatha, this has definitely moved to the forefront of my mind.
I thought this was all a daydream, one of those things that you talk and get excited about but when reality kicks in and the day job calls, would be forgotten. How wrong I was. When my maternity leave finished, it was decided that I sadly couldn’t return to my previous position on reduced hours, it just wasn’t feasible. I wasn’t prepared to go back full time and so we reached the decision I should leave. Thankfully, Effie also decided not to return to her previous job and thus Sleep Thief was born.
I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without Effie. I am a dreamer, rather than a doer, and, fortunately, Effie is definitely a doer and a great motivator, and gave me the inspiration I needed to make the leap with her. We sat down over coffee and I drew up the designs and then we started the process to get them created. As you can see, my background has absolutely nothing to do with fashion and nor does Effie’s, so it has been a steep learning curve from the start. Mistakes have been made and learnt from along the way, and I have developed so much knowledge and so many new skills, it has been fascinating. Sleep Thief is a passion project and something I believe in with all my heart. I truly believe we can make parents’, grandparents’ and carers’ lives easier, while improving the way clothes are made and decreasing our impact on the planet. We will keep striving to bring innovation to the baby clothing market, and with new designs launching soon, things are only going to get more exciting.