The inspiration for Natalie Koegen’s company, Sueño Blankets, came from a place all moms dream of—the couch.
“My second son was drawn to the colors of the serape we had on the back of our couch," Koegen tells Mom.me. "He would want to take the serape to bed, but it was too rough and itchy to cuddle him up in. I searched for a serape baby blanket paired with a soft material, but I couldn’t find one."
A mother of three, Koegen decided to take matters into her own hands and make the blanket she had been searching so hard for herself. The result was a thoughtfully crafted, “take everywhere” blanket made from high-quality, authentic Mexican serapes and soft, white sherpa. The cozy blanket was a hit with her son, and Koegen knew that she had something special.
“After I had a prototype, I realized that I had something that other moms were probably searching for, too, and would certainly buy if they could find it,” Koegen says.
Koegen launched her company about 2 1/2 years ago while she was four months pregnant with her daughter. “My sons were able to witness me growing Sueño and their little sister at the same time!” she says. Sueño blankets come in a full-size throw ($179) as well as a toddler size ($79) and can be shipped anywhere in the United States or Canada.
Koegen tells Mom.me how she balances the time she spends building her company with the time she spends with her family.
As a mother as well as the founder and owner of Sueño Blankets, how do you make it all work?
My wine rack stays stocked, and Postmates and I are on a first-name basis! Look, it’s hard—extremely hard at times, but it’s not impossible. I have an amazing village that is made up of friends and family who support me. We decided early on that the children would come first. That means meetings are sometimes taken while breastfeeding, and I have needed to argue terms and finances with my child on my hip. It also means my work hours are during the school day, and the time after school is for pickup, homework and dinner prep. That being said, I am so thankful I’m able to bring my children to work or stay home if they are sick. That comfort alone makes any struggle or frustration of owning your own business worth it.
What were you doing before you started Sueño Blankets?
I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom, but only after years of being a waitress. Aaron and I had our son River when we were 19 and 20, and used to work opposite shifts so one of us was always at home with him. Nothing much has changed. We’ve just added a couple of kids, and the businesses we work for are now our own.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
I definitely have sacrificed my own time and needs the most. I think this often becomes the issue with moms in business. I’m constantly trying to change that, and I’ve made some progress here and there, but focusing on anything 100 percent just isn’t possible. This reality can sometimes cause anxiety or a bit of depression, but I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to sell a product I created while I watch my little ones grow up. I also know that the day I’m able to completely dedicate myself to my business will bring a whole other bucket of emotions because it will mean these crazy babes that scream in the background of business calls will be all grown up.
Has there been anything about creating Sueño Blankets that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
I am always impressed by this new social media generation of business. Instagram is a large contributor to building my customer base and community. I have met incredible families, bloggers and business people I would never have had access to before social media. Fashion Mamas is a great example. The owner, Natalie Alcala, has created a great group of professional moms who support each other and contribute to a safe environment to talk business, family and life. It has been a fantastic resource, because your social life changes when you become a mom, again when you add more kids and then again when you work for yourself. To have a group of friends who are fellow moms that “get it” is priceless.
When did you first feel successful?
Honestly, I’m not sure that any entrepreneur at my stage of business feels successful. I am not totally comfortable where I am, and that’s OK. However, one of my favorite “successes” while building the company has been getting connected with charities. I most recently was introduced to a group called Alliance of Moms. They help teen moms in foster care learn how to care for themselves and their babies. I’m excited to join them and see how Sueño can help!
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur living or dead, who would it be and why?
Beyoncé! I’m not sure how much business would be discussed over my crazy fangirl sounds, but it would be so much fun! Also, let’s be real—any lunch spent without distractions and discussing business would be a dream.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
In our home, power isn’t gender specific. Aaron and I are both entrepreneurs who embrace the challenge of running our businesses while keeping our family first. Our children get exposed to both of us handling work in and out of the home, and this creates an environment where they know they are equally capable.
Are there any new initiatives or products on the horizon for Sueño Blankets?
I’m excited about making Sueño an actual shop. I would love to help other new artists and businesses with production advice or contacts while also providing Sueño with another platform to sell through.