Like many great mom entrepreneurs before her, Michelle Brandriss’ business began out of frustration. She was looking for a customizable kids label that would fit her specific needs and found herself unsatisfied with the options available. Instead of settling for something that didn’t quite fit what she wanted, Michelle leaped into action and created Name Bubbles.
From baby bottles to school gear, they are durable enough to survive being microwaved and they are also waterproof enough to survive a spin in the dishwasher or washing machine. Furthermore, each label is made with a non-toxic, eco-friendly ink.
Tell us a little about Name Bubbles.
Name Bubbles are these neat little vinyl labels with this ultra-durable adhesive that we’ve designed to last through the rough-and-tumble of everyday life. They’re really functional and always fun, because you create them yourself and order them online. And the graphics make them fun (and easy for kids to I.D., too, even if they can’t read yet). Name bubbles are perfect for baby bottles, school uniforms, sports equipment, clothing, and other property that can sometimes go missing between home, school, camp, vacation, or wherever members of your family happen to travel.
What inspired them?
As a working mom I tested labels from several other companies, but I honestly became kind of frustrated with their limited options for styles, colors, and personalization. There were so few colors and designs available that mix ups still occurred. My son also has a food allergy, so I wanted to be able to add all of my contact information and instructions right on the label. This level of customization was not available before Name Bubbles. So really I was designing around my own needs, and it turns out they dovetailed with needs others were experiencing. Isn’t that terrific?
How many different types/styles of labels do you currently offer?
Name Bubbles offers two categories of labels: waterproof dishwasher- and laundry-safe labels (a.k.a., “Bubbles”); and our water-resistant labels (a.k.a., “Stickies”). All of our labels are made of superior hard-wearing vinyl printed with non-toxic, eco-friendly ink.
All of our dishwasher- and laundry-safe labels (called “Bubbles) boast an extremely durable adhesive backing that will stay in place — even in the most extreme conditions (minus-60 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit). “Stickies” are water-resistant labels that also stand up to tough conditions, including temporary exposure to water (i.e., rain won’t hurt them, but the dishwasher will). They are perfect for items that are not normally exposed to cleaning products or extreme heat sources and their adhesion will not last long on fabrics, so Stickies work best on sports equipment and other rigid items.
You’ve got hockey sticks? You need Stickies!
There are 21 different Bubble styles and 18 Stickies styles, which do not include the eight different color palettes and icons customers can choose from when customizing their labels on our Web site. All of our labels can be purchased in a booklet or in various varieties and packs, which are also explained on our Web site at www.NameBubbles.com.
How has it changed/grown since it first launched?
Wow. It’s been a wonderful learning experience, that’s for sure! Our labels and marketing material were, I’m proud and embarrassed to say, all designed right in a local Saratoga Springs coffee shop, and I was working out of an office in my basement, just after my son was born. Even though we only launched in January 2009 I am pleased to say we have office space and are able to separate work and home a little better. Our product continues to change, too, thanks to feedback from our customers. It’s the best way we know to improve our product. That’s where ideas like lamination and shoe labels first came from. Plus the endless creative requests and fabulous ideas for new colors and icons. Keep them coming!
What goals do you hope to reach over the next year or so? What are your long term goals?
We’ve been growing so fast, it’s hard to pinpoint goals sometimes, but probably primarily is to continue to improve our customer service and always strive to streamline our processes to make things easy for customers. Our greatest marketing is word of mouth, so we care about each and every order. Our growth so far has been terrific, and we’re working to expand our line in many ways in the coming months, so please stay tuned!
What do you enjoy the most about running your own business? What do you like the least?
As a parent and spouse, the flexibility of owning my own business has been amazing. I can be where I need to be for my family. The downside is that you never stop. Come to think of it, I am not sure any mom anywhere ever stops. The business is always present and you do not shut the door to your office and leave at the end of the day or on Friday afternoon. Your mind is always focused on your next step.
Have you always had an interest in running your own business?
My grandmother started her own business as a real estate agent; she ended up having close to 20 employees at the end of her career. As a young child I had a sense of the level of responsibility she had but I also saw that she lived with a level of freedom that many women didn’t enjoy at that time. Having gone through many product launches and growing new business for start-ups, I understand the challenges to the Internet and e-commerce. I will continue to focus my energy, skills and interests into creating innovative label products — and ensuring a superior product and flawless customer service for our Name Bubbles aficionados.
What are some of the lessons that your business has taught you?
Patience, persistence, and confidence — over and over and over again. A nice example — while purchasing large pieces of equipment the gentlemen looked at me and said, “There’s always an Exit plan and you would get most of the money back on a return.” It was startling, he was selling me expensive machinery thinking I would go under — I thought to myself, “Be careful, I will need to buy more.” Nine months later I doubled the original order. He never mentioned the “Exit” plan again.
Do you have any tricks that have helped you maintain a balance between your business and family?
Do your best and call it a day. It’s okay to think about the next steps and what must be done but children grow quickly so have some sacred time set aside for the ones you care about — even yourself.
Do you have any tips that you’re willing to share with fellow entrepreneurs?
If you know you are on the right path, then don’t ask anyone for their approval. But always keep an ear out for good advice. Be confident and clearly inform others of your decisions. When you have questions, find the most qualified person to ask for help. Everyone has a specialty. You will usually end up saving yourself time and money, if you do not try to do it all yourself.