Fellow Portrait

Cara Sayer

Really Simple Ideas Ltd.


Really Simple Ideas Ltd. develops and markets an innovative blackout blind, baby sleep-aid and high-grade sunscreen for prams and pushchairs.

03. Good Health and Well-Being







Parents of newborns never seem to get enough sleep, but the average baby sleeps 15 to 18 hours a day, a quarter of which is naps. ‘Babies can be disturbed by the slightest change in temperature or light,’ says Cara Sayer, the 39 year-old founder of Really Simple Ideas Ltd., ‘then they wake up grumpy, and you can say goodbye to whatever you had been doing!’


Mad or maddening?

Cara tried all manner of buggy screens and hoods to help her baby girl sleep, to no avail. ‘I trawled the Internet trying to find a product that would actually block light out rather than shade her. When nothing surfaced, it was maddening, so I decided to make it myself.’ She wanted a universal product that would fit all kinds of prams and pushchairs. ‘I would spend hours in the local maternity store testing the prototype on all the prams. They called me the “mad shade lady”!’

Mad she may have seemed, but 18 months later her SnoozeShade® blackout blinds are a burgeoning range sold in major UK retail outlets, such as Boots, Mothercare and Toys'R'Us, and now on sale in over 13 countries. Initially, however, Cara and her prototype took a gamble and invested in a stand at a trade fair. Her experience in events management and PR meant she was confident about pitching, but even so, the reactions surprised her. ‘One person placed an order for 100 units on the spot. That’s when I realised I would need to get serious about production.’

Being told by a mother of three that it’s the best baby product she’s ever bought is for me the greatest endorsement.


The Year of the SnoozeShade

When no UK or European manufacturers expressed an interest, she contacted a manufacturing agent who set her up with a factory in China, a move that proved to be auspicious: ‘on receiving the first 1,000 units, we realised the packaging wasn’t practical. As luck would have it, the factory shut down at that moment for Chinese New Year, which gave us time to redesign before they re-launched production!’

Apart from being compact, easy to carry and fitted with coloured Velcro straps you don’t fumble around for, SnoozeShade has achieved Cara’s wish: not only does it shade the sunlight with a UPF50+ screen, ‘it actually blacks out 94% of the light, so baby gets to sleep. It’s porous too, so heat is not an issue, it even reduces it by 0.5°C.’ Feedback to the firm gushes with comments such as ‘godsend’ and ‘life-saver’! ‘Being told by a mother of three that it’s the best baby product she’s ever bought is for me the greatest endorsement,’ says Cara.

Mum’s the word

The initial run of 10,000 sold in six months. Today that amount has more than tripled. ‘It’s quite scary for a small set-up like mine! It’s turned into a tidal wave.’ Success has come largely through word of mouth, networks and mummy blogs. Indeed, Cara came to apply for the Awards through a contact she made in one of these networks with Lisa Warner, a finalist for 2009, who encouraged her to give it her best shot. To consolidate her growth, building a range is a key strategy, so SnoozeShade infant car seat, SnoozeShade Twin and SnoozeShade Plus, which has a special peekaboo flap for curious babies, now feature alongside the Original. Plans are also underway to sell special dark-pink-trim models to support the fight against breast cancer.

SnoozeShade’s story can sound like the true entrepreneurial fable, but all has not been easy for Cara on this path to babies’ bliss. ‘When I was pregnant I had a pelvic condition that put me in a wheelchair for six months. It gave me post-natal depression and my daughter was 18 months old before I could really function,’ she recalls. ‘Developing SnoozeShade rescued me, I was desperate to get out and about.’ The exertions of starting up alone nearly backfired though. ‘At one point I literally collapsed! As an entrepreneur, especially a mumpreneur, you think you can do everything – so take it from me: beware of the superwoman syndrome, and don’t feel guilty!’ For the time being, Cara wants to keep SnoozeShade a family affair and is not seeking outside investment, despite its international growth. ‘I often say that I have two babies. I have my daughter and I have SnoozeShade!’