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Sleep Experts' Christine Cook

Occupation: President, co-founder of Sleep Experts, a mattress retail chain located throughout North Texas.

Personal stats: This Louisiana native first called Dallas home during her college years at Southern Methodist University. After college, she climbed the corporate ladder at top advertising agencies in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Austin. The young professional met her husband through mutual friends, and a short time later, the pair married. During their 13-year marriage, the duo took over the Cook family’s third-generation business, Sleep Experts, and established a family of their own: kids Catherine, 8, and Christopher, 7.

Current projects: When she’s not marketing her business, Cook masterminds Sleep Experts’ philanthropic agenda, including the company’s Rest Assured program (in which a customer’s old mattress is donated to a local charity in need). On Nov. 4, Sleep Experts will begin collecting new and used blankets for its holiday campaign, “Share the Warmth.” This blanket drive not only gives blankets, towels and sheets to families in need, but it also brings attention to domestic violence.

Your passion behind giving back: “When we first opened the doors of our company, we started the mattress donation program, Rest Assured, which allows us to donate to 22 local nonprofits that deal with homelessness, domestic violence and children in need. I get excited as we get closer to the holidays because this is when our company’s community involvement is at its peak—our employees and families all get involved in the blanket drive. My daughter’s Brownie troop adopted ‘Share the Warmth’—and so many others who work with dedication to collect blankets and bring attention to domestic violence. This program is a simple way for families to give to other families in need. All it takes is cleaning out your closets. It’s so rewarding.”

Most influential on your career: “My parents. They always believed in me and gave me confidence to achieve all of my crazy goals (like summating mountains—you name it, they were there for me!). Taking on a business was no small task, and they always were very supportive of Chris and I.”

Your kids' view of the family business: “It’s silly and strange to them that mommy is on TV or the radio … they think it’s cool that we have a mattress store, mostly because they love to jump on beds! It’s very much a part of who they are and they enjoy it.”

On family philanthropy: “Our kids are always a part of our community work; it has really developed their servant hearts. My kids have taught me—through their own volunteerism—how to be non-judgmental. They go into a difficult situation and see families struggling, but it’s so easy for them to give love. It’s wonderful and inspiring to see how freely they can give to others.”

Your parenting style: “It’s a work in progress. I would say that I’ve made a lot of mistakes. There’s no perfect handbook; every child is so unique. What’s helped me lately is to just focus on having a happy home. My family’s happiness is what’s most important to me—your kids’ happiness is the key to good parenting.”

Life would be simpler without: “E-mail and cell phones. They make it so much harder to turn off work and check out. We’re constantly connected.”

Your mom was right about: “The other day my husband was talking about my mom and he said, ‘Her passion was her family.’ I’d never really thought of it that way, but it’s so true. To her, life was a celebration, and that’s one thing everyone can learn from.”

You're most proud of: “The family that Chris and I have formed and the business we’ve built together.”

Strategy to balancing work and family: “This goes back to the old saying, ‘If mama ain’t happy, no one’s happy!’ I have to take time for myself, which typically comes in the form of running. Exercise energizes me and helps me accomplish everything that’s on my plate. But, really, my life is no harder than any other mom’s—we’re all in this together, juggling all the balls mid-air. Technically, my husband is my boss, so I have the flexibility to be anchored at home when needed.”

Published November 2009