Australian mothers and entrepreneurs, Shea Morrison and Danielle Knight, started their business The Goodnight Co. back in 2015...
A year later, they partnered with Arianna Huffington on her Sleep Revolution book tour. They were then selected as one of two Australian brands to be involved in her Thrive Global pop up in SoHo, New York.
Six years later, we’re still in need of more sleep. And luckily, they’re here to help. The brand launched with luxurious silk pillowcases and silk sleep masks and the offering has since expanded into mists, oils, earplugs and even crystals. Basically, as the name suggests, if you want a good night’s sleep, you go to The Goodnight Co.
We caught up with Shea to really dive into the topic of sleep, and how we can all get more of it.
What did your career involve prior to children?
I worked in radio advertising for 16 years for SCA and NOVA. It was a really fast-paced and cutthroat environment, definitely not one that lent itself to juggling being a mum too.
What was your experience of early motherhood like?
It feels like such a long time ago (even though my children are only 8 and 6), I remember it being quite stressful in the very early days. I think the hardest part when you become a new mother is that no one can really tell you what is about to change because it is so different for everyone. In particular, sleep deprivation. For me, it was all centred around sleep because sleep was always so important to me. I was someone who worked out what time I was going to wake up in the morning and then calculated what time I needed to go to bed to make sure I had 8 – 9 hours sleep (pre-children). So when I had children quite close together, I really had to prioritise my time and make sure I was getting naps and sharing some night feeds with my husband to get the right amount of sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, I find it really hard to function at my best, even now I will often try to get a nap on the weekend. There are a lot of schools of thought around napping – my theory is that if it works for you DO IT!
What was it about Molly and Max’s arrival that made you think about a career shift?
Whilst I was in an industry that was very female dominant it wasn’t overly supportive of working mothers, most of the team were young and we needed to do a lot of client entertaining as part of our jobs. The role required frequently attending midweek and weekend events, and while this suited me in my younger days, it was difficult with young babies. It was quite easy to work out that finding the right work/life integration in the role that I had wasn’t going to work for me or my family.
What prompted the launch specifically of The Goodnight Co?
I have always been entrepreneurial – I owned a laser hair removal business for 5 years while I was still working in radio; I’m a marriage celebrant and was also a qualified massage therapist. I liked learning and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. When Danielle (my co-founder and friend) and I were pregnant with my second and her third child, we decided we wanted to do something for other sleep-deprived mums and The Goodnight Co. was born… offering a little bit of luxury.
Tell us about the early days of starting up the business. What were some of the biggest challenges?
The early days were equally as exciting and hectic. Luckily we didn’t know what to expect because if we did, we may have never started! While that sounds like doom and gloom – it is just A LOT of hard work. For the first 18 months, Danielle was juggling with a new baby (her third) and her husband was travelling every 2 weeks internationally. We were working from home and would go to each other’s houses to work while juggling 2 babies’ feeds and sleep times. Danielle’s neighbour would sometimes comment that ‘it must have been a busy week’ as she could hear the very loud tape gun wrapping boxes from across the fence! I think one of the hardest things was to firstly trust your own intuition and then find really good suppliers and support people that you can fully trust and rely on (everything from IT, website companies, accountants, digital specialists) – this took a long time.
Can you talk to us about the value of sleep? Many of us are aware of just how awful life is without it, but what about some of the science behind it?
Sleep is the third pillar of health – just behind nutrition and exercise and a lot of people don’t even know this. The Australian Government commissioned a National Sleep Enquiry last year and is now looking to implement changes in all States and Territories about how to raise the profile of the benefits of sleep, and as a nation how we can all benefit from this. The hope is that the report will help bring attention to the central function of sleep to overall health and wellbeing and increase the focus placed on sleep among policymakers and in the broader community. Four in every ten Australians are not getting the sleep they need. The direct financial cost of this inadequate sleep is currently estimated to be $26.2 billion.
Wanting to get a full night’s sleep and the reality of achieving it are often two different things. How do you actually make time for it in light of business and children?
In the early days, I wasn’t very good with boundaries around work and home life, I can say that it is a work in progress and I am much better these days. I try to not work at home at night, and you will mostly find me either in the bath or in bed reading not long after I have put the kids to bed! If I’m struggling to fall asleep, or get woken up by a little person having a bad dream, I use our Deep Sleep Drops to get to sleep. Our Morning Drops for those nights that you just don’t get a good sleep and need a natural pick me up in the morning!
You have three businesses and two children, yet maintain a beautiful sleep schedule. Are there certain things you deprioritise or say ’no’ to as a general rule to maintain your sanity?
I have very good boundaries these days – not working at night time, I watch very little if any TV and I deprioritise mid-week social events and really focus on my sleep. I have a very consistent sleep routine.
What do your sleep schedules look like?
Consistency is key – I have found it is really important to be doing the same routine every night. My routine is fairly simple and takes less than 10 minutes – read a chapter of a real book, spray my room with Sleep Mist and use some of our Deep Sleep Drops. If time permits, some nights it includes a bath and I pop a few Goodnight Essential Oil drops in there. Sometimes if I am struggling to fall asleep I’ll also use and Sleep Mask.
Do you nap?
I love a nap, some people have different views on naps – that they can interfere with your sleep and circadian rhythm. I think it is such an individual thing – whatever works for you!
How many hours do you aim for each night?
8 hours is a good number for me.
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night? (Not just because of your children, but because of worries/anxieties?) If so, how do you go about getting back to sleep?
Sometimes, it is pretty unusual these days, I have put in place some very good daily practices that allow me to stay grounded and as stress-free as possible – this is always a work in progress. However, if it does happen I have a notebook beside my bed so I’ll write down anything that’s bothering me and take some Deep Sleep Drops.
What about sleep routines for your children?
I feel that consistency is key when it comes to children’s bedtime routine (which I would say is the same for adults). After dinner, I like to start dimming the lights (this helps with melatonin release), warm showers, toilet and teeth are great cues – our mind and body respond so well to consistent cues. Some nights, I’ll use our Mind Time Kit for Kids which includes some short guided meditations to calm the mind or just read to them. This is especially useful if they’ve had a big day at school or with after school or weekend activities.
What’s your biggest tip for mothers who are struggling with sleep?
Firstly, I think it is good to recognise it, track it for a while and see if there are any recurring patterns. Then work out a simple routine that makes you feel good (it should never be a chore) – starting with 3 things is often good. For example, reading, having a warm shower, a short guided meditation, using aromatherapy, things that help calm the mind. Sticking to a routine is very important and trying to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time (even on the weekends) – try this for at least 10 days. Avoiding screens (all devices, including TV, at LEAST an hour before bed will make a big difference – no scrolling!
What about your biggest tips for women starting a business?
- Dream big! Do something you love.
- Get the fundamentals in place, make sure you have a solid starting budget to engage in a good website, a bookkeeper and accountant, basic digital marketing. Ask for referrals for suppliers that other people have worked with.
- Work out your support crew – the friend who has a solid ear to lend sound advice and be your cheerleader; husband/family to help with children and home; a lawyer, accountant, HR consultant, Marketing/PR consultant; Doctor/Naturopath; possibly a cleaner. These are the people you will need in your life to help you survive and achieve. Work out who they are early on and don’t be afraid to ask for or pay for their help.