Kristin Cummings and Erika Johnson met several years ago, when their kids took lessons at the same swim club. The two young mothers quickly became fast friends, their families partying together, vacationing together. And now they’re in business together.
Last year, Cummings and Johnson started St. Pete Slumber Company, which arranges themed slumber parties complete with colorful tents, decorative pillows, cascading balloons and other accoutrements. Business has been so good they’ve started offering photo sessions and celebratory yard cards.
“We had slumber parties when we were kids,” Cummings said, “but not like this.”
A St. Petersburg native, Cummings is a speech language pathologist and dance teacher with two kids. Johnson, originally from Chicago, is a photographer who home-schools her son and daughter. A few years ago, a Pinterest post of a teepee over a bed sparked the idea of using tentlike structures for slumber parties. “We thought this would be something really fun that we would all be able to take part in because of our separate skills — Erika being a photographer, her husband a carpenter,” Cummings said.
The pandemic stalled plans until last year, when she and Johnson noticed that someone on Facebook was selling tent frames and covers, air mattresses and party accessories. Taking it as a sign that it would be a perfect time to start their own business, they bought the entire lot. Next steps were hiring a web designer, forming a limited liability company and buying extra fabric to make their own tent covers. Johnson took photos for advertising purposes.
St. Pete Slumber Company launched during the holiday season with a Grinch-themed party for nine kids. “It was someone we knew,” Cummings said, “so we felt comfortable asking her for input and getting feedback on what they thought was great and what it might be nice to see in the future.”
Since then, they’ve staged parties throughout the bay area, including in Temple Terrace and Palmetto. Themes have included Parisian with a toy poodle and miniature Eiffel Tower, ice cream social, video gaming and a campsite with camouflage tents, army hats and log-shaped pillows. Coming up are parties with “lacey boho” and tropical themes.
Reviews posted on Instagram have been glowing:
“Our girls had the best sleepover ever!”
“Erika and Kristen are amazing. They took care of every little detail (even including a pre-filled pinata).”
“Our daughter and her friends were so thankful for this experience and cannot wait for the next special sleepover.”
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Depending on the number of tents and air mattresses, it takes Johnson and Cummings at least an hour to set up. They can provide a photo booth with appropriate backdrop (Johnson takes the photos) and recently bought yard cards that can spell out a name and birthday greetings. The women return the next day to pack up.
Most of the parties so far have been for girls ages 6 to 11, but Cummings and Johnson set up a “kids corner” at a wedding to keep two young boys occupied during the lengthy nuptial festivities. St. Pete Slumber provided gift baskets with toy dinosaurs, trays on which the boys could play games and do arts and crafts, and soft blankets to curl up on when they got tired.
“We had a wedding planner that reached out to us,” Cummings said. “She felt something was kind of missing from her business to entertain kids so she was very much in our corner and referring us to a lot of brides.” Cummings and Johnson see “kids corners” becoming a significant part of their business.
St. Pete Slumber has marketed itself by donating gift baskets to school auctions and to the Mike Alstott Family Foundation, a nonprofit that helps children and families. And, of course, word-of-mouth advertising from friends and happy clients has played a big part.
“It’s been super cool to see the growth of it,” Johnson said.