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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver’s Slumberkins finds itself enmeshed in Silicon Valley Bank failure

Sleepless nights at Vancouver firm end after feds step in to secure deposits

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 13, 2023, 1:11pm

Kelly Oriard and Callie Christensen were midflight when they caught word that their business world was in disarray. Their company’s money was held in Silicon Valley Bank — the bank that had just collapsed.

The local educators-turned-entrepreneurs, co-chief executives and co-founders of the children’s company Slumberkins, had been in New York when they started hearing rumblings from their team and investors about a potential collapse of the bank.

Oriard said her immediate response was to think it wouldn’t be a big deal and to not panic.

“It just escalated very quickly,” she said.

They, along with many account holders, tried to withdraw their money from the bank the day preceding its fall. But the bank’s systems were down and the Slumberkins team couldn’t get through to anyone at the bank. They were stuck.

“It collapsed while we were on the plane,” said Oriard.

When their flight home landed, they were immediately in crisis mode.

In the company’s Instagram account over the weekend, the Slumberkins team posted that they were practicing the skills they encourage in their books and content “as our world turned upside down behind the scenes here at Slumberkins.”

The majority of the company’s cash was held at Silicon Valley Bank, the Vancouver-based company said in the social media post. The now infamous bank collapsed on Friday, leaving those with money held there unable to access their funds.

“The cash held there was our capital that enabled us to operate the business, continue to launch new collections and content and develop the tools and resources that are being loved by so many children, families and schools,” read the Instagram post.

The company then offered a 40 percent off sale, selling through much of its inventory of books and characters in just 24 hours. That money, Oriard said, they put in a local credit union. That’s the money carrying them right now.

Since Friday, their world has flipped again. On Sunday, federal bank regulators assured Silicon Valley Bank’s depositors that they would be able to access all of their money quickly.

“We were so relieved,” Oriard said. She finally got to sleep, she added.

“Gathering the courage to share we were affected was a true moment of vulnerability and very scary for everyone involved,” read an updated Instagram post from the company on Monday.

“We made quick decisions to ensure we could continue operations and pay our next payroll in a moment where it truly felt like we were on our own,” it continued.

“The sale we did and the way that the community showed up for us was so incredible,” said Oriard. “It really just showed in a vulnerable moment how strongly people care.”

Even with government assurance, Oriard said their funds are being transferred to another bank. And the executives have heard rumblings about more banks falling.

“Who knows what’s going on there,” Oriard said. “The only thing we feel really sure about is the funds that the community has shown up and supported us with.

“We’re just so grateful for how much people are taking an interest in and being supportive of a local business like ours,” she finished.