IWM: Sandi Silver

We spoke with Sandi Silver, founder of Cubby Cubes. She makes the best accessory for organized travel and organized kids’ camp cubbies. We found out what sparked the idea to create a new product, how she made the first Cubby Cubes, and how she convinced her sons to use her product. 

Where did the idea for Cubby Cubes come from?

Like many ideas, it came from a need. I was visiting my kids at their overnight camp and they were showing me around their cabin and their living set up. My one son complained to me that I had only packed him 3 pairs of shorts. I explained to him that there were 8 in his bag and then I proceeded to climb into his cubby where his clothes were not so neatly piled up.  In the back right corner under several other items I pulled out 5 perfectly folded pairs of shorts.

Moving along to see my other son’s living arrangements , he proudly displayed his cubby and said it took almost 3 days to reorganize things for Visitors Day. Instead, he should have been enjoying activities and the outdoors… but he had to make things look ‘presentable’ for the parents. He had one shirt that was sort of dangling from the cubby. I pulled it out and it had shoe prints on it from falling out multiple times and people stepping on it. At some point it would be picked up and shoved right back into his mess, only to fall again and display another shoe print.

I was suitably unimpressed by what was going on and I said to the kids that something was going to change for the next summer…

So what happened next?

I came home from visiting my kids at camp and started to go through our closets to see if I could find inspiration. For years we had been travelling with packing cubes to organize our suitcases and it was my ‘AHA’ moment.

I decided the next summer the kids would use these units to put their clothes in, but they needed a way to identify what the contents were. I used masking tape on the long side opposite the handle to label what the contents were.

The following summer they became my testers. They used them for every item of clothing from underwear to sweatshirts. Their cubbies looked fantastic on Visitor’s Day and one of the counselors was telling me how impressed he was how quick and easy to it was for my son to unpack and get organized.

From here I decided to take on the challenge of figuring out how to manufacture this product.

I went online and researched companies in China through Alibaba that manufactured packing cubes. I knew it needed it to be modified to meet the needs I was trying to fix, so I narrowed it down to 4 manufacturers to send me samples. From there I chose the company that had the best quality from material to sewing.

Are your kids’ camp cubbies actually tidy?

Now they are! My sons were 11 and 13 when they were part of my ‘focus group’.  They were 12 and 14 when I officially started the company. My older son embraced the concept right away, he loved how easy it was to find things and enjoyed the easy of having immediate access to what he needed.

My younger son did struggle with it for a bit, and he had some challenges keeping things organized. I had a few talks with him and explained it was worth trying, and that he would eventually see that it is more helpful than overwhelming. He needed some time to mature and choose to look after his things properly. Now he is the first one at the closet to grab his Cubby Cubes to pack for a trip!

Where do most of your sales come from?

Most sales tend to come from two places at different times of the year.  During Holiday shopping season, I sell my product at local schools during their holiday marketplaces attracting those seeking gifts and planning their travel.

And then there’s parents packing for their kids for summer camp that shop from our website. Some camps promote Cubby Cubes directly to their camp families, and that tends to make up 1/3 of my sales for that season.

Being a mom to three and wife to one can be considered a very full time job. Why did you decide to start a business?

I really enjoy having something that I can call my own that keeps the creative side of me engaged.

Who are your biggest cheerleaders?

People who have used the product are the best Cheerleaders I could ask for! I love listening to them encourage their friends to buy it once they’ve used it. They sound just like me!

Who can you count on to always tell you the truth?

My husband, if he doesn’t think I am going in the right direction with the company, he will voice his opinion.  And you, Lisa, of course…

You take on so many roles as an entrepreneur. What’s your favourite work activity?

I enjoy being in front of people and talking to them about the product and explaining how to use it.  I take great pleasure in helping people get organized for travel, and helping others organize their children to head off to camp.

What’s your least favourite work activity?

Social Media (but I think you knew that) and anything to do with numbers (stock, accounting, etc).

What adventure are you taking your own CubbyCubes on next? 

Cubby Cubes come along for EVERY adventure (big or small), but the next one will be a family trip next month.

For more information visit cubbycubes.com. Like Cubby Cubes on Facebook and follow them on Instagram too.