Julia Sielicka-Jastrzębska and Zuzanna Sielicka-Kalczyńska are the founders of Whisbear®, an innovative sleep aid. Based on their own experience as mothers, they have designed a product aimed to help newborns with a smooth transition from a prenatal to postnatal life by recreating soothing sounds of the womb. Last year, they received the Kind + Jugend Innovation Award for this innocative product in the category „World of Toys”. Now, Kind + Jugend asked the two sisters why Whisbear is so special and what difference the visit of the fair has made for their business.
Could tell us, what kind of product you offer and how everything started?
Julia : What we offer is a little bit of support for parents when they face this new fascinating but at the same time challenging day-to-day life of a family with a new-born baby! In our case this “support” is shaped as cuddly, lovable bear called Whisbear The Humming Bear, an innovative and unique sleep aid emitting soothing noise the baby remembers from mother’s womb.
Zuzanna: Whisbear is a response to our own motherhood needs, to be honest, it was over 6 years ago when I had my first son. He was very unsettled and colicky. I knew that using white noise with baby was an effective way to help him settle so I spend a lot of nights sitting on a bathroom floor cuddling my newborn and soothing him with the sound of a hairdryer – neither fun nor pleasant. But at that time, I could not find anything that would replace hairdryer. And then, during another sleepless night the idea of a product that could safely and pleasantly help parents with settling babies came to my mind. But it took a few more years and two more sons (laugh) for Whisbear to be launched in a shape it is now available.
Julia: We have done a lot of research, spoke to fellow parents and used our own experience as mothers, to create the product that perfectly corresponds with what Mums, Dads and Babies need. Our own and our friend’s babies were the first one to ever test the prototypes. Even the choice of the sound, locked in a shushing device, happened in Zuza’s bedroom and was based on how herself and her boys responded to the noise and, of course – how quickly they fell asleep!
In 2016, you won the Innovation Award at the Kind + Jugend?
Zuzanna: Kind + Jugend was one of the most important events in the short – yet amazing – history of our company. We of course always hope for the best, but with so many, so amazing products we had to compete with for this award the actual award announcement came as a massive surprise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SodFMn9kBr0). We could not have been prouder!
What is so special and innovative about your product?
Zuzanna : You may say that there are so many sleep products on the market already – so why us? Well for many reasons! The awarded innovation is a CRYsensor. Our device may look simple, but engineers we work with have locked a very sophisticated, mathematically advanced technology inside. The CRYsensor is specifically designed to response to the sound of baby’s cry and not necessarily to any sound in the surrounding. Let me tell you how it works – you put your baby down and switch the device on. It will emit white noise for 40 minutes and this is just enough time for baby to drift to the deep sleep. After that time the device constantly analyses the surrounding sounds and if cry is detected – it automatically switches on for additional 20 minutes of shushing to help baby settle back to sleep.
Julia: Whisbear is a state of the art product. As I mentioned before, a lot of research and analysis is behind our bear. We wanted to provide parents with something that will be at least as good as we would want for our children, and believe me, with such a diversity on the children’s market, our standards are high! We also wanted to create something not only practical but beautiful, multifunctional and most of all – safe. That’s why Whisbear is not only a sleep aid but also a toy that supports fine motor and sensory development. We also love the fact the Whisbear designer – a young and talented artist Maria Czapska – was inspired by actual children’s drawings when she created the project of Whisbear.
Did the award make a difference for your business?
Julia: During the show and after announcing the results we hardly had time to sit down or have a snack (they laugh). There were 5 of us on our stand and all of us had hands full of work presenting our awarded bear and our offer to the potential distributors and business partners. We have established some amazing relations there and met very inspiring people who “rule” the toy world! Lessons we have learned from that can never be underestimated. Our minds are spinning with ideas and we have our diaries full of business travels to different parts of the world for almost the entire year of 2017 where we will meet our partners and help Whisbear grow!
Did the participation at Kind + Jugend improve your business? If yes, why?
Zuzanna: As my sister just said the relations we have established in Cologne are priceless to us. Since October we have launched Whisbear on the new markets and the markets we have already operated including UK, Germany or Turkey have grown significantly. At the same time, we still negotiate number of different contracts on new European and worldwide markets. Kind+ Jugend is one of the most important events of its kind in the world, visited by some most influential people from the business so all the changes and growth we are experiencing now seem like a natural follow up of a success and acknowledgement there. We strongly believe that the best it yet to come!
What are your plans for 2017? Do you have plans for further products?
Zuzanna: We listen but most of all we respond to the parent’s and babies needs and we constantly work on improvement. Therefore, we have just recently changed the fabric we use to make Whisbear even more durable and easier to wash but also pleasant touch for Babies. We have presented our new bear during Kind + Jugend. It was also where we have announced our biggest project for 2017 – Whisbear Smart! The new fluffy Animal Friend will open a new era of baby’s sleep aids. It will be a combination of intelligent sleep monitor and baby sleep tracker all operated from your smartphones! And we go even more eco-friendly as the USB charger will replace traditional batteries.
Julia: Whisbear is a very successful young company that we have established with a team of several hard working and creative people. We are constantly bringing up new ideas and there is not much sleep – that’s the only situation where Whisbear is helpless when it comes to sleep improvement as what we need here is a magical wand that would stretch the day from 24 to 48!