Inspiration for starting a business can come from many places. A number of the world’s most successful businesses were founded by people creating solutions for problems they faced in their everyday lives. Tara and Carl Darnley, founders of Darlyng & Co, who feature in Amazon’s latest national ad campaign did exactly this by creating a range of products for children, an idea inspired by their desire to create better products for their own children after being frustrated by what was in the market.
In early 2014 Tara Darnley was pregnant however 3 months prior to giving birth she found herself out of work as she was laid off from her job in restaurant sales. Whilst weighing up options with her husband and looking at their finances they decided rather than resume work after giving birth she would spend the first few years raising their children given how expensive daycare can be.
At 2-months-old their newborn began teething and the only thing that would bring her ease at the time was her chewing on her hands. There were no teethers on the market that would allow her to continue to self-soothe with her hands and not constantly falling to the floor or her parents needing to hold due to her lack of dexterity. This sparked the idea of their first invention the Yummy Mitt Teething Mitten. Their first prototype being a snow mitt that they purchase to test the idea.
An Encounter With Steve Harvey
After getting great feedback on their prototype from family and friends they started to think they had something they could commercialise, however, “neither of us had a business background so didn’t know where to start” Tara says. However, they eventually got conviction and decided to turn a prototype into a product and work with a manufacturer. Most of their savings and Carl’s salary went into producing this which left little money for a patent filing “we didn’t have money for a lawyer at the time so I spent many late nights when my daughter was asleep working on the idea filing it myself!” Tara says. She was successful in filing the patent and soon turned her hand to marketing “I knew going into business we would need some kind of press so I ended up pitching to The Steve Harvey Show over 10 times, my mindset at the time was that you never know who would see the email but if it’s a parent they would immediately understand the concept”
Some time passed but eventually Tara got the call she was hoping for when The Steve Harvey show responded to her email. This was followed by a video conference call where her daughter made an appearance showcasing the product. Shortly after she was invited for a segment on “momtrepreneurs” which aired on Mother’s Day. This coincided with her products being manufactured and in the first quarter of 2015 Darlyng & Co was launched. The Steve Harvey show brought a lot of interest and in the first three months the couple made $100,000 in sales. “This was a real wow moment, we were shipping this product not just to our friends and family but around the world to people we didn’t know”.
More Products And Online Expansion
A short while later Tara appeared on The Steve Harvey Show again which brought additional attention to the company as well as new distribution partners such as Babies R Us and a number of international distributors. The couple focused on developing new products and expanding their range into things such as affirmation cards and stylish diaper backpacks for busy mothers on the go. After a few years the expansion and growing sales afforded Carl the opportunity to leave his day job as a pastry chef and join the company full time.
Unfortunately in 2017, like many retail companies, they found themselves in a position where they had to pivot as many of their sales started to come online and many brick and mortar stores, including Babies R Us who were one of their main distribution channels had to file for bankruptcy. This led to them turning to Amazon who “have been critical as we’ve had to pivot” Tara says allowing them to reach customers all around the world and market their suite of 40+ non-toxic, eco-friendly, effective and innovative products. Their success on Amazon has not gone unnoticed by the eCommerce giant as the stars in their latest national ad campaign.
The family are very excited about the future and have a line of innovative products in the pipeline and partnerships to help parents around the world handle many of the issues they have encountered themselves. Additionally, more recently Tara offers her help to fellow entrepreneurs looking to take a similar leap of faith and start their own business through her consultancy business Dreams Inspire Reality.
This article is part of a series featuring diverse people making a difference. You can find more articles (click here) and if you have a story to tell or want to be updated as soon as new features are released message/follow me on Twitter @TommyASC91