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Daily Inspiration: Meet Judith (Judy) Carr

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judith (Judy) Carr.

Hi Judith (Judy), we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My long professional career has been rewarding – a wonderful mix of challenge, achievement, and life lessons. The cornerstone of my professional life has been reinvention. Fueled by education and professional experiences, I have had the remarkable opportunity to write the professional chapters of my life purposely. My decision to leave corporate life presented a fresh challenge – what would I write on the blank page I had just created? What activity would prove a worthy recipient of my drive and passion? What would I choose as my next obsession?

My youngest grandchild John inspired the “what next” question. I wanted to buy John a simple sleep sack. I wanted it to be beautiful, practical, artistic, and whimsical. My search ended in frustration – even the most expensive sleep sacks lacked personality and style, and most were mass-produced overseas. Not for my grandson! My daughter asked the operative question. “Mom, why don’t you design one for John?”

So I did just that. I researched, designed, and created sleep sacks (We called them Bumbers) for John, my extended family, and ultimately, commercially. Perfect – a project worthy of my drive, passion, and desire to serve a greater purpose. I was inspired to touch the lives of many families. Bumbershoots by Nana® represents the convergence of generations – my grandson, daughter, myself, and my mother.

Background: My mother was an exceptionally gifted tailor. When I was eight, she handed me a pattern and some fabric and said it was time for me to learn to sew. Over the years, she coached me, and my skill as a seamstress grew. My youthful passion was ballet – an impossibly expensive activity for my family. My mother bartered her skills to pay for my lessons; over the years, she made hundreds of costumes for the ballet company. I was her apprentice and helped design and sew beautiful creations. My dedication to education and my chosen profession kept me from sewing until my retirement. But I’m back and am loving every minute I spend designing sleep sacks that are not only beautiful but meet the cognitive, physical, and safety needs of the little ones. I owe whatever talent and skill I have to my mom! Bumbershoots by Nana is quickly filling the pages of the newest chapter of my life.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
“Unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of injury death among infants under one-year-old in the United States, with 82% being attributable to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants sleep with no soft objects or bedding in the sleeping area.”

Child safety has been our biggest motivation. Given that a child’s well-being is our #1 priority, our mission is to provide infants and toddlers with a safe, luxurious, comfortable sleep experience. Our designs are based on physical, cognitive & emotional development research for infants and toddlers (National Institutes of Health & American Academy of Pediatrics).

Experts warn it is dangerous to use soft bedding in infants’ cribs. That includes loose blankets. A properly fitting, a well-constructed sleep sack is a much safer way to keep your baby cozy during sleep time. Bumbershoots by Nana takes the practical sack to new heights – our products have Impeccable luxury and heirloom-quality construction. Our favorite safety design feature – snaps at the chest to keep the sleep sack from riding over the baby’s face while sleeping. Safety first, whimsical and playful second.

Our parents/grandparents have provided us with amazing feedback – their observations for making our sleep sacks even better. We listen – we evolve. Today, our current sleep sack design is longer and broader at the bottom to allow more room to kick and develop leg muscles. We also added longer zippers to enable easier midnight diaper changing. At our clients’ request, we have added tummy time blankets, jammies & buddies (stuffed animals) to our family of products.

Our multi-year awards for design include Red Tricycle (Best Sleep Sack & Editors Award), LUXlife Parent & Baby & Mom’s Choice.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I define myself as both a nerd and an artist. Although I loved academic challenges, I loved spending every night and weekend at the ballet studio. In my senior year of high school, I had to choose between the two. I decided on whether or not I would receive the coveted scholarship to pursue my artistic career at San Francisco Ballet Company. The scholarship went to another dancer, so I took the academic path. I pursued school with a vengeance – four academic degrees in business administration, economics, organization & human development, and executive coaching. I had a fantastic career that I loved.

Retirement enabled me to return to my artistic roots – the young girl who loved ballet and helped her mom make costumes to pay for classes. Years of costume design and construction provided an invaluable framework for designing unique and beautiful baby sleep sacks. As a nerd, I knew how to structure the business and do the research (driven mainly by my talented daughter). As an artist, I learned how to mix colors, textures & designs to give the babies a unique cognitive experience. They love to touch and even pet the super-soft sacks that provide warmth and safety while lying down to sleep. Spoiler alert – I often catch moms and dads petting the sacks at arts events! Too soft and cuddly to resist.

The best part – the nerd and the artist come together when I show our products at arts events. The nerd gets to teach – explain the research behind the designs and talk with new moms about child safety. The artist gets to show off design features and listen to a wonderful litany of family stories about the lives of amazing babies. All in all, it is a great next chapter in an exciting professional career.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some changes you expect to see over the next five to ten years?
I am highly optimistic about the future of designer baby sleepwear. Not to anyone’s surprise, babies will continue to be born every day, and parents/grandparents will continue to be consumed with child development & safety. Consumers will also continue to shop for items that add joy, beauty, and whimsey to practical products that are basic to life. The sad reality – not everyone can afford the luxury of hand-crafted baby products. The economic downturn will be a limiting factor for some families.

We know and understand that –and that is where philanthropy comes into play. It is important to us that all families have access to sleepwear that is safe and beautiful. Bumbershoots is committed to supporting greater Baltimore by donating our beautiful products to hospitals, neo-natal facilities, and individuals so that our products will be readily accessible to all, regardless of the economy. During the early days of covid, we donated over 250 sleep sacks to Johns Hopkins to distribute to those in need or sell for priority projects. We partnered with Mercy Hospital’s Neo-Natal unit to provide sleep sacks to underprivileged families with premies. Babies and families come first for us. We continue looking for ways to support our community and give back.

Pricing:

  • Sleep Sack $90
  • Jammies $95
  • Nursery Set (Sack, Blanket & Buddy) $185
  • Blanket $80/$90
  • Buddies (Stuffed Animals) $30-40

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.bumbershootsbynana.com
  • Instagram: @bumbershootsbynana
  • Facebook: @bumbershootsbynana
  • Twitter: @bumbershootsbynana
  • Youtube: @bumbershootsbynana

Image Credits
Artist photo & workshop pictures — Jennifer Casey Photography Baby photos — Lauren Daue Photography

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