In episode 21, Lauren shares her experience founding Life in Play – from idea to Kickstarter campaign to profitable business. She shares the highlights challenges along the way and how she accomplished this while starting a family.


Lauren is the Founder & CEO of Life in Play, a family-friendly fashion company. Life in Play sells a product called ToteSavvy, which turns your designer bag into a diaper bag. Prior to founding Life in Play in 2014, Lauren founded LHC Couture, a bridesmaid dress company, and before that had worked as designer for bebe and Levi Strauss. Lauren is also a mom to three kids under four!

Founding Life in Play

  • Was pregnant with first child and could not find a fashionable diaper bag. Found that regular fashionable bags lacked the organization system necessary.
  • Sketched an idea for adding removable pockets to her bag, sewed a prototype and used it. Realized other parents could find this product useful as well.
  • At the time, was doing LHC Couture and hand-sewing all of the bridesmaid dresses. Knew she didn’t have time to sew ToteSavvy products too.
  • Realized she could have one SKU manufactured and spend her time on building a business, marketing, etc. rather than creating the product by hand herself.
  • Spent a year vetting the idea, launched in 2014 with a Kickstarter campaign.



Learnings from the two companies

  • The two are completely different.
  • LHC Couture – spent too much time manufacturing herself, also wasn’t focusing in on one key thing that she and her customers could hold on to.
  • With ToteSavvy it was a simple product, much easier to find our niche, find customers and explain to them why it was going to be so useful for them.

What’s next for Life in Play

  • Launching three new products in late 2016/early 2017.
  • One is a Handbag for Totesavvy to go inside, essentially the diaper bag she had initially wanted.
  • Using customer feedback to shape product roadmap.
  • Considering doing a bag geared towards dad as well.

Biggest Fail

  • Moved forward with manufacturing after Kickstarter campaign.
  • Didn’t fully research some certifications needed within the baby space.
  • Had to scrap some parts from the original order and manually replace all of them.
  • Now are much more rigorous about triple-checking before ordering any parts or materials.

Kickstarter campaign

  • Raised $35,000.
  • Expected pledges to just roll in, but had to work for it. Friends, family, then eventually people they didn’t know pledged.
  • Had a few pieces of press form mom & style bloggers – this was very helpful
  • Tip: start PR push at least a month ahead of time. Digital publications were interested in featuring them, but by the time they could work it into their content calendar, the campaign had ended.
  • Incentives for pledging – the product was the main incentive. Also a few other prizes e.g. the ability to name the product, video with song thanking pledges, etc.

Ending Partnership with Co-Founder

  • After deciding to take the prototype to market, realized it would be helpful to have a co-founder – asked a family friend.
  • The relationship didn’t work out. Ended up going separate ways.
  • This experience has helped her better prepare for going into other types of agreements- knows what questions to ask and is smarter in decision-making.

    Fully consider every benefit and potential concern prior to jumping into a partnership.

Current team

  • Has two employees now. Everyone wears a lot of hats.
  • Lauren typically handles finance, product development, photography, graphic design, web design, logistics, and distribution.

Key area she had to learn

  • Photography – decided to save money doing photos themselves.
  • Initially would spend hours shooting, hours editing.
  • Have learned a lot about how to photograph this product, to get people to notice the features.

Exciting moments

  • Last year were organically placed on a gift guide on
  • Didn’t know they were going to be featured. Another brand tagged them in a post on Instagram about it.
  • Website traffic and social channels had spikes during that time. Also put it in their marketing materials now.

Hitting profitability

  • Hit this early in year 2
  • People starting finding them organically and orders increased significantly.
  • Haven’t take on any funding – sustained by their revenue.
  • Able to spend marketing dollars where they count.

Working for self vs. established company

  • Pro = time flexibility
  • Con = amount of time spent working

    I’ve had to accept not getting everything done in one day or even a week.

Work + family

  • Working on the business with a new baby was tough, and it still is.
  • Lucky to have family nearby, mom helped with first daughter so Lauren could work on the business.

One important lesson I’ve learned from being a working mom is to fully separate work life and home life.

  • Twins were born right when Life in Play started gaining traction. It was tough but I was able to maintain the business because of great childcare.
  • She had assistants helping with kids, was able to set aside time to focus on work with breaks in between to spend with the babies.
  • Husband is also very hands-on.

Tips for others considering starting a business with a family

  • Before trying to balance work life with home life you need to think about what your goals are.
  • Guilt is a huge factor. Understand what will lessen the guilt (e.g. always being home one hour before bedtime,)

Whatever those goals are, strive to achieve them 90% of the time.

Final Advice

  • The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is taking the first step.
  • You might fail, but you’ll learn from the failure and the next time will be a success.

It’s better to give it a shot than to wish you would have.