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Name: Chrissie Lowery

Business: The Cuddle Bed Company

Location: Stroud, United Kingdom

Industry: Children’s Goods & Services

Reason for starting? Three years ago, I had a pretty good life. I had a career that I loved as a clinical specialist nurse and a very happy home life. Bringing up five children on my own brought challenges of course, but so many happy days too! Back then I didn’t really have the best understanding of chronic illnesses. I specialised in psychiatric disorders in children, and I knew my mental health but had little knowledge of chronic illnesses and how life-altering they can be. So when I was hit off my feet in 2013, it came as a hard shock to my system. I spent days, weeks and months on the sofa, which even now is still quite a blur to me. That very same year my eldest son was diagnosed with autism and my youngest son was severely bullied. My world fell apart, and the only thing I could to was to remove my three children from the school and home school them. In those dark and hopeless days, I taught myself to sew using my mums sewing machine. I sat in my lounge floor and created a cuddle bed to help my son sleep.

Related: Read about another entrepreneur helping children with special needs here.

How do you define success? I have successfully reached out to many parents with autistic and disabled children, all of whom have contacted me to inform me how much my CuddleBeds have transformed their lives. Success to me is helping these families that are sleep deprived or do not have enough comfort in their lives. I need to get my products in front of my ideal customers and target audience to have the biggest impact and help the most people. I would like to open a warehouse with a team of seamstresses and start making the special sensory bed for sensory rooms, schools and residential homes. I am using Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter to raise brand awareness, along with the ongoing support of the National Autistic Society. I hired two coaches to help with setting my own goals. I belong to the women’s business club, whose members are an absolutely amazing resource of kindness, experience and support.

Biggest success: I have been featured in The National Autistic Societies magazine, and we are working together on my dreams. I donate a percentage of my sales to the NAS. I am now renting my own work space and taking on seamstresses to be able to help more families. I am about to launch a Kickstarter fund to design a bed to help severely effected children. My beds are protected by the IPO so no one can copy my designs. I am supporting a charity that helps parents in need with SEN difficulties that help with education issues. A live video I filmed was featured in my coach’s Forbes interview. I have over 6,000 fans, and my lives reach over 60,000 people. I won The Dragonesses Den (The women’s business Club).

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Getting my message out to the right people. So far I have been featured in six magazines or newspapers. I have had online interviews, and my struggle is to get seen by the right audience. I am getting my products out there, which takes time obviously, and working as a single parent with five children and three chronic illnesses has been by far my biggest challenge. If it wasn’t for my illnesses, however, I would not have my business today, and I would not have been able to support my two youngest children with their extreme school issues. My youngest son was bullied so severely he ended up in hospital, and my other son was classed as a “naughty child” and put on high risk of exclusion, instead of being diagnosed and supported. I home schooled them whilst setting up my business and finding a more appropriate school for them. I had to grieve the loss of my career as a psychiatric nurse specialist. I struggled with my health, and at times I still do. However, my business drives me everyday.

Related: Empower Women to Transform Their Emotional Health

Who is your most important role model? My children inspire me everyday, and my father, who died when I was 16. He worked tirelessly for his family and had an amazing work/family ethic and life balance.

Twitter   @cuddlebed
Facebook   @TheCuddleBedCompany[/box_light]

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Edited by The Story Exchange