On today’s podcast we welcome Robyn Rosenberger. Robyn is the woman behind Tiny Superheroes, a business based on empowering and uniting extraordinary kids as they overcome illness or disability. She creates tiny capes for children with special needs or severe illness so they know they are truly superheroes. Robyn lives in St Louis, Missouri with her husband and two boys. You may want to grab a box of tissues for this episode and prepare to be truly inspired!
On the Podcast
01:25 – The very first Tiny Superhero
03:30 – Spreading the Love
07:30 – Robyn's Mission
08:20 – Becoming a Business
10:24 – The PR Rollercoaster
12:52 – Hiring Help
15:02 – Jump! Headfirst…into the Whirlwind!
19:10 – Making a Profit as a Missional Business
22:30 – Who is Tiny Superheroes for?
30:55 – An Incredible Video (seriously, go watch it!)
33:40 – Balancing Life as a Mompreneur
39:18 – Robyn's Yucky Mom Moment!
Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to hear Robyn's Story
The very first Tiny Superhero
Before relocating back to St Louis, Robyn and her husband lived in Seattle for five years where she worked for a software company. As her nephew’s birthday approached, she wanted to use her creative side to create a truly awesome present for him. So Robyn completed her first ever sewing project, a tiny cape! During this time she was following the story of Brenna, a little girl born with a rare severe skin condition. She just knew that she should send Brenna a cape to let her and her family know what a superhero she was. With that, the idea for Tiny Superheroes was born!
Spreading the Love
After sending Brenna’s superhero cape, Robyn was more and more inspired to send them to other children. She wanted to bring them joy and told herself that if the tiny cape made them smile for 10 minutes, it was totally worth it. It was also important to Robyn that children with special needs and severe illness know that from the outside they are seen as true superheroes.
Robyn began looking at other stories like Brenna’s and found 10 more children with similar stories and struggles. After she sent these children their own superhero capes, a friend of one of the families unexpectedly wrote a story about Tiny Superheroes and what Robyn was doing on Today.com!
Robyn's business took off from there. Because of her mission and the love behind Robyn’s business, she's been featured on some very popular sites and shows. The families of these children have told Robyn how much it means that their struggles are acknowledged and how much extra strength they get from these tiny capes. Robyn feels indebted to these children and their families for teaching her so much and showing her what it really means to be a superhero.
Robyn’s children do not have special needs or illnesses but she has a passion for finding the gifts in the children that do. She strives to change how we look at them and their stories. Instead of seeing their differences let’s look at what makes them so strong and so extraordinary. The biggest reward that Robyn sees from Tiny Superheroes is being able to recognize the super powers of these children.
Becoming a Business
Robyn knew that she wanted to build something that would be sustainable over the long term. This is why she made the decision to become a for-profit business. She knew that her skills and resources would be better suited for a model that follows Tom’s shoe company (when you buy a cape, she donates a cape to a tiny superhero). In order to donate capes, she created a “nomination” system where people could nominate children who needed them.
Robyn was overwhelmed by the response she got from Today.com and about six months later, she was featured on ABC World News. It was at this point that Robyn left her full time job to focus on the business. Robyn had to take the leap before she was sure about what would happen with her business. But she knew she'd get an influx of orders after ABC World News, so she felt like she either had to jump head-first so she could handle the new orders, or she'd have to decline the interview and shut Tiny Superheroes down. (I think we all know what Robyn chose to do!)
The PR Rollercoaster
Tiny Superheroes has received a lot of press which Robyn really sees a blessing. She had a hard time at first balancing this press in her business. She was overwhelmed with orders all at one time, and the business became a roller coaster of work.
Robyn also had a hard time figuring out if the business was really sustainable or if she was just getting big pushes of orders because she was being featured on big platforms. Recently, Robyn has spent time looking at the big picture and how to keep her business sustainable through the highs and lows so she can provide capes for many years to come.
In the beginning Robyn was sewing all of the capes from her living room with some of her friends. They would often work late at night with the kids in bed! Finally Robyn found a small sewing company out of Seattle that was able to handle all of the sewing for Robyn. Robyn says the quality of their work is so much better than hers! It has been a balancing act, but now the orders are starting to level out and the business is becoming more consistent. Hiring help is a huge hurdle for a lot of entrepreneurs but it's allowing Tiny Superheroes to continue on their mission. Robyn can do what she does best – market and share the mission of the business and find new superheroes to support!
Jump Headfirst…into the Whirlwind!
The first six months of Tiny Superheroes was a whirlwind for Robyn — including many late nights and a living room covered with fabric. Over time, the business became very stressful for her and her family. She was spending more time worried about orders than focusing on her kids. It became obvious to her that this way of living was not sustainable, but she still wasn’t sure if the business would be financially viable.
At first, Robyn tried just working part time at her job, but that didn’t work out very well — she needed to go back to full time to really perform well in her role. It was at this time that Robyn got the call from ABC World News that they wanted to feature her business. As we mentioned above, at that moment Robyn had a critical choice to make: jump headfirst or call it quits. It was terrifying for her to leave a great job with financial security and head into the unknown, but this decision really showed Robyn how important her mission was to her. Tiny Superheroes is still going strong!
Making a Profit as a Missional Business
Currently Robyn’s business has not yet replaced the income she was making from her full time job. Since Tiny Superheroes donates a cape for every cape that is purchased, it has been difficult to find just the right price point for each cape. So far the business has ebbed and flowed a lot. Sometimes Robyn is able to pay herself and sometimes not.
Up until now the capes have been expensive to make and not priced in a way that would keep the business sustainable. This is something that Robyn is currently working to fix. It's difficult to create quality capes, sell them at a reasonable price, and stay true to her mission of giving a cape for each one purchased. Robyn acknowledges that her business is still growing and managing it financially is still a learning process.
Who is Tiny Superheroes for?
Tiny Superheroes is for every kid! Robyn wants all kids to enjoy a beautifully made cape from her company, but it's important to her that people understand when they buy a cape, they're doing so much more than that. For every cape that's purchased, Robyn gives a cape to a child with an illness or disability, and she also lets the customer know which superhero their cape helped to support.
Purchasing a cape is a great opportunity to educate children about special needs and illnesses. This reinforces Robyn’s wish that we recognize the strengths and super powers of these children instead of the differences. Most kids don’t spend a lot of time with other kids with disabilities and severe illnesses so Tiny Superheroes helps to connect all children together while sharing their stories.
An Incredible Video
Robyn has found that every time she gets to a point in her business where she questions whether or not she can keep going, a blessing arrives. This time the blessing was in the form of a video created by American Express. They reached out to her and wanted to support her journey, so they came to her house and filmed for hours to tell the story of her business. Robyn has found that the video has been a great tool for brand messaging and getting the word out instead of just generating sales. It's easy for people to watch this video and immediately know what Tiny Superheroes is all about. Seriously, the video is so good – watch it here!
Balancing Life as a Mompreneur
Although Robyn has not completely figured out how to balance her children and her business, she is getting better every day. Some moms want to be full time moms and some women (like Robyn) need to have another outlet for themselves in addition to being a mom. With her first son, things were seamless, and he was at an age where he could go to daycare while she worked, but when her second son came along everything changed! Robyn found that she was not doing anything at 100%. Robyn tries to learn from what other moms in her situation are doing and find the best way to balance it all. For her right now, it works best to have both kids in daycare on a regular basis. They are doing great, and she is able to focus on work during that time.
Robyn's Yucky Mom Moment!
You'll have to tune in to hear this one. I don't care to explain all the details!