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Happi-Nappi Finds Niche in ‘Nap Bag’ Business Monday, September 27, 2010, Vol. 125,
No. 187 C. RICHARD COTTON | Special to The Daily News

           Cynthia Lea Talley and Happi-Nappi Staff

                           Photos: Bob Bayne

Peggy Schoggen recognized the quality of Happi-Nappi products after she began washing her grandchildren’s school nap bags on weekends.

The Southaven speech pathologist was impressed by the quality of the quilted, colorful
bags the children sleep in during school nap time.

“They are certainly high quality,” said Schoggen. “They are wonderful.”

In fact, she decided to get her grandchildren chair bags – cloth bags hung on the back of
a desk chair to hold books and other personal items – so began an Internet search for
them. Schoggen was pleased to discover that Happi-Nappi, the South Memphis
manufacturer of nap bags, also makes chair bags. So she made a trip to the factory at
3874 Viscount Ave. in Oakhaven’s Millennium Business Center.

“You can monogram the cover flap with their names but make sure you don’t sew it to
the bag,” Happi-Nappi owner Cynthia Lea Talley explained to Schoggen – who paid
$22 for two denim bags – over the whine of several sewing machines operating nearby.

Surrounded by some of her eight sewing employees and stacks of chair bags, brightly
covered mat covers and nap bags, the 49-year-old Talley said she got into the niche
market through a series of events.

To begin, she earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design at the University of
Mississippi, a degree path that included “a lot of sewing.”

“I worked in interior design two months and I hated it,” said Talley, a Memphis native
who was raised in Corinth, Miss. She sold pagers for a while and later worked for a large,
national waste disposal company.

About 15 years ago, she saw a nap bag and figured she could make them better, so she
made a few; they featured the top and bottom sheets sewn together so they can be
handled and washed as one piece rather than two. Then she set about a one-woman
marketing effort.

“I started by going to daycare centers at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning and setting up a
card table with the nap bags on them,” said Talley. They sold.

Eventually, Talley found it necessary to contract the sewing out because she alone
could not keep up with demand for the bags. Then she hired three full-time sewers and
set them up inside her home, where she had more control over the finished products
than she had with the contractors. The home-based enterprise lasted 13 years.

Two years ago, Talley moved the business out of her house, leased the three-suite
Millennium Business Center space and installed primarily Juki professional sewing
machines. She also brought all the sewing in-house.

“I always said, ‘There’s no way I will have my own factory,’ but now I have a factory,”
said Talley.

She produces primarily five products: the Happi-Nappi nap bags ($30.95 retail), chair
bags ($11.95), mat covers ($20.95), crib sheets ($9.95) and cot covers ($20.95).

“We have 60 of the cot covers,” said Michelle Childress, preschool teacher at Avondale
Elementary School in Marion, Ark. “They’re wonderful because they’re so easy to clean
and the children love them.”

The cot covers are also two pieces sewn together for convenience and fitted with elastic
bands at the corners that secure the covers on the legs of the short plastic cots schools
and daycares buy from education goods suppliers.

Childress said Avondale’s cot covers have been in constant use for at least six years
and still have plenty of life left; an occasional replacement of an elastic band is the only
maintenance, besides washing, they’ve needed.

Talley estimates that 90 percent of her sales – she doesn’t sell retail or through catalog
– comes from the personal contact she makes with teachers and administrators
attending education conferences. Each year she sets up a booth at seven or eight of
the conferences nationwide.

Happi-Nappi makes and sells 30,000 to 40,000 items annually, but Talley sees the
enterprise as more than just a supplier of bags.

“This is about giving people employment and a nice place to work,” she said. “My sewers
can set their own schedules, which they do. Two of them work at night.

“It’s very important to me they enjoy their job and have a safe place to work.

    Employee Deloise Matthews sews nap bags at
       Happi-Nappi’s Viscount Ave. headquarters.