By Jennifer Rader, Contributing Writer
When people begin a business, many variables can motivate them. It may be a burning desire, a personal experience or a critical vacancy. You could say that Bristow resident Denise Stern, founder and CEO of Let Mommy Sleep, can relate to all of these factors and more. Prince William Living spoke with Stern to ﬁnd out how she ﬁlled a void and created a sought-after service in the D.C. metro area.
PWL: When and how did Let Mommy Sleep begin?
Stern: Let Mommy Sleep began as a business in September 2010. I had been pregnant with twins and already had a 17-month-old. My husband had no time oﬀ and I was diagnosed with preeclampsia [pregnancy-related high blood pressure]. … I was a regular mom with a challenging task.
PWL: What is your background? Had you previously owned a business?
Stern: My undergraduate degree was in public relations. After graduation I worked in an oﬃce but always wondered, “What’s next?” I knew I wanted to create something. I had also owned a shop in Occoquan. But, prior to opening the Occoquan Basket Co., I didn’t know you could just start a business.
PWL: What kind of care and service does your company provide its clients?
Stern: We have been able to fulﬁll an observed vacancy focusing on how important it is to be a new mother and new parents. We are in over 200 homes doing baby care and seminars teaching individual clients and groups how to care for their babies in the transition from the hospital. We give education and support, such as newborn breastfeeding, getting multiples on the same sleep schedules and age-appropriate instruction for infant feeding and sleep. And we are available as an overnight nurse to actually let mommy, and daddy, sleep.
PWL: What is the driving force behind Let Mommy Sleep? Stern: We feel as mothers we are supposed to grind on and suck it up, and that’s just not okay. Let Mommy Sleep is all about empowering families, serving families with a level of care they deserve.
Laura Hegarty, RN, with one of the babies whose parents receive help from Let Mommy Sleep (LMS). Hegarty oversees care and the writing of training materials as a member of the LMS Medical Advisory Board.
PWL: How is all this accomplished?
Stern: We ﬁnd we have two types of clients: the new “planner parents,” those who are, for the most part, ready for their new arrival, and the “Whoa, we didn’t know it would be this way” parents. But both [types]ﬁnd Let Mommy Sleep provides the support they are looking to receive in this new chapter of their lives. We do this by having a team of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who are very knowledgeable and experienced in neonatal care and who provide an elite service to those wanting personal assistance.
Stern speaks to the Arlington Chapter of Mother Offering Mothers Support Club (MOMS Club) about infants’ sleep.
Stern: Be authentic. It truly has to be in your heart and your passion. If it’s not part of you, you might as well not even start because people can see right through it. Our clients know that we, for the most part, are moms talking to moms. And go to the source to get your message and vision out there even if it involves paid advertising.PWL: What are the challenges you have found in providing your particular service?
Stern: Our service is a relatively new concept for people in the U.S. People have heard of baby nurses, but it’s more likely seen in movies or with celebrities. Through research we found these arrangements are common everywhere else in the world. The U.S. is the only country to discharge new parents without support. The other challenge is from the clients’ perspective. They, or others, question if they are “mom enough.” We want to overcome these challenges to our brand and our clients through awareness. We want people to know that it’s okay to need extra hands, to ask for help.
PWL: How do you promote Let Mommy Sleep?
Stern: Our outreach is about 50/50 between regular paid advertising and referrals. We maintain a presence through social media, working with mom-related pages and directly with mom clubs or groups.
PWL: Tell us about the charitable arm of Let Mommy Sleep.
Stern: We have “Mission: Sleep,” a nonproﬁt organization that we started in April 2012. It provides free, overnight newborn care to military families. … The qualiﬁcation is a deployed, injured or deceased spouse or partner. We really feel transitional care should be available to everyone, but not all can aﬀord it.
PWL: Does Mission: Sleep only serve military families?
Stern: We focused on military because of the obvious circumstances that deployments can bring to the family, but we have moved to other special circumstances. For example, we had a client whose husband had been killed in the line of duty as a police oﬃcer while she was pregnant. We were able to support her, through our unique abilities, during a very emotional and diﬃcult time.
PWL: What are the plans for the future of Let Mommy Sleep?
Stern: Our ﬁrst goal is to grow the number of families we are serving. Since we started we have expanded north into the Baltimore area. Then, [we would]possibly franchise nationwide, but there is more research to be done to plan the steps to accomplish that goal. I would like to set up a network of headquarters in multiple locations if we develop Let Mommy Sleep in other markets.
Let Mommy Sleep is the presenting sponsor of “A Baby Aﬀair,” the D.C. metro area’s boutique consumer event for modern moms and moms-to-be. The event will be March 17 at Long View Gallery in Washington, D.C. For more information on “A Baby Aﬀair” and Let Mommy Sleep, visit www.letmommysleep.com.
A nonproﬁt development director for more than 10 years, Jennifer Rader now works as a freelance writer and consultant. She lives with her son and husband in Manassas and can be reached at email@example.com.