If you forge into an entrepreneurial venture, it helps to already have business expertise. Just ask Port Washington entrepreneur Wendy Collett.
Collett, 45, is the founder of Dry Babe, a Port Washington internet company that makes absorbent sleepwear for “hot mamas” – women who suffer from night sweats triggered by hormone imbalance, illness and medication.
A former HR professional who worked in the luxury fragrance industry, Collett founded Dry Babe in May 2011. She knew all about night sweats firsthand, having suffered from them since she was 40.
Determined to achieve a good night’s sleep, Collett tried everything from supplements to sleeping with a wet washcloth.
“I said to myself, ‘How unsexy do I look?’” Collett recently recalled, with a laugh.
Ultimately, Collett realized, she needed a material that wicked away moisture, but allowed air to circulate while inside. The fabric used by athletes, she found, worked better outdoors. She finaly found a terry velour from Turkey that did the trick. Working with an American manufacture, she selected one style and one color for her initial sleepwear garment, and launched Dry Babe.
Next, Collett got to work on new styles and gift sets and because of demand also launched a plus-size line, serving “a wonderful loyal market,” she said.
She says she’s invested $50,000 in the company, and is now starting to see return. Asked about revenues, Collett pointed out that because the company was launched in May, she doesn't have year over year sales yet. "I can say that we saw month to month growth from May to November as we slowly entered the market place," she said.
Collett also anticipates opening a Dry Babe store on a breast cancer website, which she said will further boost sales.
Recently she switched fabrics to a woven velour with a little more give than her original offering. “It’s as absorbent as 100 percent cotton, so soft and nice,” she noted.
Collett said she hadn’t anticipated launching a sleepwear company. After working in HR for many years, she opened a company as a professional chef. When the market dipped in 2008, business dropped too. On her husband’s advice she earned a degree in counseling. However, soon after securing her degree, Dry Babe was up and running.
Still, her background offers several advantages. Her contacts in the luxury market from her HR days provide valuable feedback, she said. Her degree in counseling provides insights in working with her customers, many of whom are seeking relief from night sweats. And her work as a personal chef have helped her hone her entrepreneurial skills.
In fact, Collett is no stranger to Port Washington small business owners. She is active in the , recently serving as a judge in the . Recently, she was named the "Small Business Person of the Year" by the Nassau County Chambers of Commerce.
As for Dry Babe, Collett said she may add more styles or break out to retailers.
But for now, she seems more than satisfied.
“I am loving my life,” she said. “I incorporate what I do into my daily life.”