Blue Suit Mom

BlueSuitMom Great Find: Clouds and Stars—Maker of the QuickZip® Sheet

This month, meet Huggies® Brand MomInspired™ grant recipient Joan Henehan, who along with Elizabeth Zopher created the QuickZip® Crib Sheet.

Clouds and Stars, Inc., provides simple solutions to challenging tasks by designing, manufacturing, and marketing innovative products. Our first product, the QuickZip® Sheet (patented in 2004), was developed in response to our frustration with changing crib sheets. QuickZip® is a redesigned sheet that stays securely on the mattress and is easy to use; the top zips on and off for quick and hassle-free changes. Our design solves two major challenges for parents—it makes a chore easier and provides peace of mind from entrapment or strangulation hazards. As we’ve grown, we’ve developed additional juvenile bedding products and are preparing to expand into numerous other niche bedding markets, including home-health and elder-care. We are proud of our accomplishments and the recognition we’ve received. Early milestones include a patent, mention in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Parenting Magazine’s “Mom-Tested” seal, and a demonstration on the Today Show. We currently sell primarily on our website and on,,,, and Our challenges mirror those of other small businesses with great products: increasing sales and new marketing opportunities but insufficient financing and operations plan to take a giant step forward. Instead, our small steps result in higher manufacturing costs and insufficient infrastructure. To overcome these obstacles we are working to transform operations to leverage our strengths and those of our partners.

Our advice for moms who are thinking about bringing their product to market is to absolutely do —otherwise, you will always wonder if you could have made it work. But be very shrewd in your approach, seek advice from other women who are in the process, and learn from their mistakes.

Put as much energy into developing your business as you do in developing your product. We have come to understand the benefits of a clear plan, so that each decision you make fits an overall strategy. Having the plan also guards against making “non-decisions” that direct the business without a clear evaluation.

Carefully evaluate expenditures—think strategically about benefits before spending any money, and have clear metrics and timeframes established to measure results.

Value your time—every decision you make has a cost. Your free labor is not free because there are opportunity costs associated. Your economic forecasts should include fair value of these “free services.”

Develop strategic partnerships that can help to share the risk and investment—and of course, the rewards—these may include outsourcing manufacturing, fulfillment, and financing in addition to licensing early on, and as your business grows. Infrastructure is expensive and can overwhelm a small business.

Work and life balance always present a challenge. We thought that when we had the business running perfectly, the chaos would go away. Eventually we realized that some level of disorder means that you have a lot going on—and we thrive on that. We relish the challenges (at least most of them) that come our way, as they are fun, inspiring, and rewarding. We aspire to keep cool and figure out how to make problems work to our advantage.

To learn more about QuickZip®, please

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