In the quaint seaport town of Wilmington, where the famous Brandywine River flows, two entrepreneurs embarked on a mission to fulfill not only their own dream but that of every child and parent. This dynamic couple creates stunning beds for kids that are truly distinctive and inspired. Every little girl and boy envisions a bedroom that is uniquely their own, whether that dream materializes into a castle on a cloud or a fortress to defend against enemy forces, Sweet Dream can build it and make your child’s wildest adventures a reality. Does your little one imagine being a princess who waves to her admirers from the highest tower; does your prince pretend to be a pirate who is the captain of his very own ship? Just describe what it is your child wishes and this duo can make those dreams come true.
Their most recent project was to create a bed set for a special needs child whose mother needed specific customized features for her ease and the comfort of her son. Not sure if he could accommodate her particular needs, but up for the challenge, John Means sat down and began drawing out designs. After several tries, he finally came up with a buildable bedroom set that would meet both mother and child’s needs. This was one of John and Joann’s proudest moments in the five months since they launched their small business.
The couple’s Sweet Dream business began in January of 2006. Several months earlier they were on the hunt for a bedroom set for their own child; after searching for the perfect bed and not finding exactly what they were looking for, John decided to use his considerable carpentry skills to build one himself. The result of the final product was so exceptional that soon friends and family were encouraging them to launch their own business. Soon after, the couple took this advice to heart and set out on the often rocky road of entrepreneurship.
They were encouraged by their near immediate success as orders for their beds quickly began rolling in; in their first five months of business they earned over $30,000.00 and were becoming well known for their excellent work in their home town. This revenue was promptly re-invested into the company. With the profits from their first few months of sales they rented a wide open and roomy shop in Philadelphia PA and purchased the many tools required for building craftsman quality furniture. The couple also hired an exceptional faux finish artist. Their artist takes Johnny Means’s quality built finished furniture and custom paints them to perfection. Whether a customer desires a fantastical faux finish or their child’s name emblazoned on the piece for a personalized final touch the Sweet Dream Team can accommodate them.
Joann Means wasn’t surprised by the high demand for the beds her husband makes. Before deciding to take the plunge into making Sweet Dream a full-time endeavor she did her homework. What she found was that two-income and professional parents were increasingly desirous of unique items for their children’s bedrooms. Parents with more disposable income such as these were, and are, spending big on children’s furnishings. The trend shows no signs of slowing down, even after a major economic crisis such as Hurricane Katrina. According to a recent article in the Washington Post spending has been on the rise in the last two quarters of 2006, "Disposable personal income-the amount available for personal spending or saving-increased 3.8 percent, compared with a 6.7 percent increase in the previous quarter."[1 Joann also discovered, according to a 2003 AARP report, that Baby Boomer grandparents who had invested wisely in retirement funds—and who also have large disposable incomes—each spend in excess of $2,400.00 per year on their grandchildren.
Indeed, several recent social changes make a business like Sweet Dream very desirable to parents. With the advent of TV shows focusing on home improvement on HGTV, Discovery Channel, the Style Channel and others, consumers are putting their money into their homes and home décor in the range of billions of dollars per year. Add to this trend the growing numbers of older—and thus more finically secure—couples having children, and the market for custom made children’s products is becoming big business. Consumers are on the hunt for unique, one-of-a-kind items that will set their children’s rooms apart from everyone else’s.
Celeb and high salaried professional parents certainly have the ability to pay for these exclusive items and are actively seeking them. Gone are the days of cookie cutter furnishings; why buy a plain old sleigh bed for your child, when you can have a castle bed that doubles as a play house? Although the price tag is high for such well made and extravagant furnishings, even the thriftiest of parents can’t argue with the triple duty some of these up-scale items serve. The Means’s beds serve as bed, playhouse and storage center all in one fanciful package for under $7 thousand dollars and, in some styles, as low as $3 thousand. Several specialty furniture makers create beds for pure frivolity and the price tag can run well into the range of $20 thousand or more!
With regular folks spending less on items such as designer clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes and investing that money into their homes, beds such as the kind the Means’s create become an obtainable dream even for middle income families. When one factors in the spending of grandparent’s and relatives around the holidays, a play bed like this can easily become an extra special "chip-in" Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza or birthday gift that won’t soon be forgotten and tossed aside by the family’s favorite tot.
Whether you’re in a position to make your child’s bed dreams come true or you can only hope to be able to someday do so, you can’t help but to gaze in admiration at the fine craftsmanship of these sets. In 2007 Sweet Dream will be adding smaller, additional pieces to their line such as toy boxes, table sets, step stools and chairs, which will be more reasonably priced. So, if you can’t afford the King or Queen of all beds you might just be able to swing a smaller piece of the dream for your child next year.
[1"Economic Growth Surges To 4.8% GDP Posts Fastest Climb in 21/2 Years," By Fred Barbash and Bill Brubaker, Washington Post Staff Writers, April 29, 2006
[2"Franchisees Hop On The Boomer Bandwagon," By Suzanne Mcgee, Startup Journal, The Wall Street Journal, 2006