WILLIAMSBURG — A crying infant, an active duty Air Force airman, and a mom desperate for some sleep combined to make a new children’s brand in the Historic Triangle — Little Bug Lovie may have been born out of sleep deprivation but founder Rebecca Bender knows it will take off.
As Bender was slowly coming out of her new motherhood fog, she desperately wanted to get a small part of her life back. her son Henry, however, had other plans. Henry would never fall asleep without her. As a military spouse, Rebecca often lost sleep to make sure Henry was never without her by his side.
After a 2 a.m. wake-up call for a hungry Henry, through bleary eyes, Rebecca ripped the stuffing out of one of his teddy bears and stuffed one of her own shirts in the bear’s stomach. She gave the bear to Henry and he slept like a rock. It was a win-win for Rebecca, as she got some sleep and the idea for a company began to shape up in her mind.
“While learning the ropes of being a first-time mom with my son, I was trying so hard to put my son down to get a little independence back. My son was what I like to call a ‘stage-one clinger’,” Bender says. “No matter what I did, he clung to me like a little koala bear. The one thing that worked was leaving him with my shirts. For some reason, the smell lingered and allowed him some comfort when I set him down.”
Little Bug Lovie has special ties to the Bender family. Currently, there are three Lovies: Henry the Sloth, Bev Bear, and Rory the Lion. Each Lovie is named after a member of the Bender family. Bev Bear is in memory of Bender’s mother-in-law who passed away when Henry was young, while Rory the Lion is named for her nephew who underwent major health complications as a child. Henry the Sloth is aptly named after the young boy who started it all.
“We really are a family business and our family is represented throughout this entire brand,” Bender said. “We really wanted to make this something that is internal to us that we can share with everyone.”
As Bender has been making the rounds through local markets and vendor events, many have approached her with different ways they are using the Lovies for their children. Originally planned just to help children with positive sleep association, Bender is happy to hear from many families on how the Lovies are working for them.
The Lovies have zippers located on them so they open up. Once open, families can put an item inside the Lovie that helps calm their child. Many use shirts that smell like mom or dad, but Bender has heard from others who have put special trinkets, mementos, or baby blankets inside as well.
“Having an item that brings comfort that is not just mom or dad or a loved one is extremely important for a child,” Bender says. “Having comfort that is outside of your parents, wherever you are, is something that we all value but being able to have an item that specifically gives us emotions and feelings is something that we all gravitate towards.”
As the brand continues to grow, Bender is hopeful to add more characters to the mix in the next year. She’d love to hear from the public about which characters they would love to see join the Little Bug Lovie crew.
Each Lovie will eventually have a storybook that matches their respective character. Currently Henry the Sloth has a story that teaches kids and parents a lesson on the importance of slowing down and being calm. Bender hopes to add Rory the Lion’s story of being brave at the doctor within the next year.
To purchase a Lovie or to learn more about Little Bug Lovie, visit littlebugstore.com.