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Sharp Start-Up: Little Lotus

The Backstory

Little Lotus, a new line of temperature-regulating sleep garments for babies, grew out of a class project in 2007 that Jane Chen, then an MBA student at Stanford, took to heart. Fifteen million pre-term or underweight babies are born every year around the world; traditional incubators in developing countries are often too electricity-dependent and complicated to be practical. So Chen and her team developed the Embrace infant warmer: a sleeping bag–like swaddle containing a piece of a wax-like, heat-regulating substance, which, when melted by hot water or a jolt of electricity, keeps a constant temperature for up to eight hours.

After traveling widely (India, China, Africa) to collect feedback from mothers, midwives, nurses and doctors, Chen, cofounder of Embrace and CEO of Embrace Innovations and Little Lotus, launched the Embrace warmer in 2011. Since, it has helped more than 150,000 babies across ten countries.

Recognizing that many new parents spend a lot of time wondering if their children are too cold, too warm or even remotely comfortable, Chen began thinking of how the Embrace technology could benefit all babies. Little Lotus was born.

The Details

The Little Lotus line includes a swaddle (0 to 3 months; $98) and a sleeping bag (3 to 12 months; $98). The material that powers the Embrace warmer is embedded directly into the super-soft fabric to help keep a baby at the perfect temperature. “For parents, comfort is the number-one most important thing,” says Chen. “Although it’s a technical product, you don’t realize it.”

Chen and her team of designers (who have worked with the likes of Nike and Maclaren) developed structural highlights like a full bottom zipper that makes diaper changes a breeze, quieter Velcro closures and the ability to open the pieces fully for easier use with a drowsy baby. While the details stand out, Embrace's core mission isn’t lost. The swaddle and sleeping bag are available in a print featuring hand tracings taken from mothers all over the world helped by Embrace. And for every Little Lotus item sold, $25 will go toward getting a struggling infant in a developing country into an Embrace warmer. The ultimate goal? To help a million babies.

How to Get It

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