As any parent knows, sometimes you need more than one hand to do everything you need to do when you have a baby in the home. If you’re a breastfeeding mom sometimes that extra hand can be hard to come by. Especially if you need to use a breast pump.
After the birth of her first child, Wendy Armbruster Bell went to work looking for a hands-free breast pump bra that would fit her needs. Instead what she found were a variety of bras that were very ugly, expensive, and simply nothing like what she wanted. However Wendy is not one to be deterred that easily. After putting together a design and finding a manufacturer, she went to work and created the PumpEase hands-free breast pump bra.
Tell us a little about your business, Snugabellâ„¢ Mom & Baby Gear, and your flagship product, PumpEase.
Here at Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear, we are in the business of designing and manufacturing functional, yet stylish mom and baby products with a focus on breastfeeding.
I have over 15 years experience in the apparel and sewn products industries. After I became a mom, I was frustrated by the choices I had for myself and my daughters.
Snugabell’s signature product is PumpEase, the world’s ONLY fashionable hands-free pumping bra! Because women like pretty things EVEN when they’re pumping!
What inspired it?
PumpEase was born of my frustration with the (lack of) selection of hands-free pumping bras on the market after I had my first baby. The products that I found were expensive, finicky and clinical-looking. So I sat down at my sewing machine and mocked-up the first PumpEase prototype that I went on to use with both of my daughters (born in 2004 and 2007).
After being encouraged by other moms, I decided to bring it to market in 2008. With my background in the apparel (fashion) industry, I knew I wanted to make my hands-free pumping bra pretty as well as functional.
How many different styles/colors does the PumpEase come in?
PumpEase is available in seven beautiful prints in four sizes, fitting moms from 32AA to 48H.
Are there any new plans in the works for your product? If so, care to give us a hint?
While we do have a big product launch set for May 1st of this year, we can’t share it with you just yet. Please check back with us on May 1st for the big reveal!
What are some goals that you hope to reach with your business in the next few years?
We have many goals, including more than doubling our retail partners by the end of 2010, diversifying the PumpEase product line as well as introducing a Snugabell line of infant apparel.
How long did it take for you to find the right manufacturer for your product? What was the process like?
Although we have a background in the apparel industry, I specialize in CAD patternmaking and thus had lost touch with my network of manufacturers. So again, I turned to the internet and reached out to some local industry players. I got one hit that referred me to her three favourite manufacturers. I got quotes from all three, samples from two and then narrowed it down to my first choice by following my gut. My manufacturer and I have been working together for more than two years now and I am very happy with our relationship.
Have you always been entrepreneurial minded?
Looking back, yes, I think I have. This is actually my fourth or fifth business. My whole family is creative, although I am the only one that has started a (formal) business. I must also say that I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my family. My mom and sister do my quality control and packaging and my husband comes up with most of my slogans and manages operations.
What are some of the lessons your business has taught you?
I follow a networking group, whose founder has a “100 times rule”. That means that you are not allowed to give-up on something unless you have tried it 100 times! I’m pretty stubborn, so don’t have a problem with giving-up but know that some people do so it is good advice. Also, educate yourself about web 2.0 practices. Social networking is NOT going anywhere and is a great tool, when used effectively, to build your business. The best part is it levels the playing field between a start-up and a large competitor.
Do you have any tips that you’d like to offer fellow mom-inventors that are just getting started?
You cannot do everything yourself, nor are you most likely qualified to. Hire experts to fill-in the blanks.