MO.com is made possible by our friends at:
Master Your Card – Missouri is a public education campaign from MasterCard, which helps consumers, small businesses, and governments get more from their money by using prepaid, debit and credit cards to their advantage. MasterCard uses its Missouri-based technology to run an electronic payment network that delivers instantaneous, affordable, and safe transactions though cards.
Two sisters, Talia Bahr Goldfarb, a mom and social worker, and Danielle Bahr Eason, a mom and retail industry veteran, joined forces to invent Myself Belts, the belt kids can fasten themselves.
Myself Belts help make a child’s (and parent’s!) school day a little easier and provide children with an “I did it by myself!” moment. Mom-invented, this is a must-have fashionable and functional patented children’s accessory for kids ages 2-12. Myself Belts promote independence and boost self-esteem by allowing children to easily fasten and unfasten their belt on their own. No more falling pants and a frustrating problem has been solved for parent, child and teacher.
Gus: How did you come up with the concept for Myself Belts? How have you and your sister combined your backgrounds, experience and vision to create Myself Belts?
Talia: Myself Belts was born when my son became potty trained and his pants wouldn’t stay up! I couldn’t find a belt that my son could actually use on his own, and so my sister and I decided to fill a void in the marketplace and invented Myself Belts- the belt kids can fasten themselves! Toddlers like to do things “all by themselves,” and I wanted to empower my son and nurture his pride in himself in being able to be independent in the bathroom. My sister and I figured out a simple and innovative way for our belt to fasten, filed patent protection, and brought Myself Belts to market.
My sister and I brought different outlooks and strengths our business. This combination helped our business to thrive as we tempered each other in terms of when to take risks and when to step back and be more conservative in our decisions. We both relied greatly on our instincts regarding designing new belt styles and entering new sales markets. Danielle was stronger at the analytics and finances of the business, and I felt more comfortable doing sales, customer service, and marketing. Our combination is a great balance.
Gus: Can you talk about the process of taking your concept and turning it into a reality? What were some early challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Talia: We knew we wanted to develop an “easier belt” and after cutting up belts and figuring out how a belt should work for a young child, our one-handed patented closure was created. We talked to friends in the retail industry and had a prototype made. My son wore it to make sure that it functioned as we had hoped, and he was thrilled with his belt and the independence that it gave him.
Our early challenges were finding a factory overseas and learning about product development. Without a background in retail, we reached out to friends (and friends of friends) to help us understand how to communicate with a factory overseas and how to design a line of belts that we could bring to market. We had a speedy education in fabrication, importing guidelines, and Purchase Order terminology. It took about a year to get the high quality construction that we wanted and to help our factory understand our vision. One of our initial errors, was ordering too much of certain sizes, as we didn’t yet know what our best-selling sizes would be. Luckily belts don’t “go bad”, so we were able to sell through those belts over time. We have overcome our mistakes by just moving forward and learning lessons. If each mistake is a lesson learned then it is worth something and helps us to be smarter and stronger as our business grows.
Gus: Dreams sometimes have to change to become reality. How closely do your current products and business resemble your original ideas?
Talia: It’s amazing, but our current line of Myself Belts for kids and adults is exactly what we had initially planned. The belt design and it’s packaging are the original. There are some small changes. Due to customer demand, we have extended our child belt sizing. Initially the children’s belts only went up to a size 6, but now they go up to an 11/12 and then seamlessly transition into our Teen Myself Belts. We also added a slide-on buckle to the kid’s belts this year, which has been extremely successful. We are always open to improvements, but Myself Belts as they exist now are the initial vision.
Gus: When did you know that Myself Belts were going to be a success? Was there a specific milestone that stands out as being significant or meaningful during your entrepreneurial journey?
Talia: When our first orders started coming in the first month we launched, I knew we were going to be successful. I had known all along that our customer was “me,” and we just needed to get some exposure and sales would follow. I knew that many parents struggled with their children’s droopy drawers after potty training and I just hoped that if they searched for a solution, they would find us… and they have! There are many milestones that come to mind, such as our first store order, our first tradeshow, and explaining our products at an Occupational Therapy meeting to rave reviews. Seeing Myself Belts reviewed in Parenting Magazine when we launched was an incredible moment as well as hearing from celebrity fans of our innovative belt line.
Gus: Why do your customers rave about the service you provide?
Talia: I think that in this day and age of automated responses and hard to reach businesses, the timely, personal, and constructive customer service that we provide is rare and is a breath of fresh air for our customers. Myself Belts is a mom-invented business run by moms. We relate to our customers and take great pride in the personal customer service that we provide. My favorite part of my job is talking with customers on the phone. We respond to emails personally and immediately, answer questions thoughtfully, and find solutions to problems that arise. Our customers are amazing and often take the time to write an email, note, or call to tell us how our belts have helped their children.
Gus: You receive impressive reviews in publications such has People Magazine and have celebrity fans like Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker. However, I’d like to know what your early marketing strategy consisted of and what really worked to attract a strong and loyal client base during your early efforts?
Talia: Our early marketing strategy was simple, exposure and word of mouth. We worked hard to reach out to magazines and blogs when we launched, and this initial success with the press helped to create our first customers. Our biggest referral source on our website is “friend”. Our customers talk about their satisfaction with Myself Belts with their family, friends, and school. Our customers have helped spread the word and also continue to order new belts each year for their kids. Our customers know the Myself Belts story and have helped build our brand organically. We sent free samples to brick and mortar stores when we launched, and this strategy helped us to get our first 100 store accounts within a month of our launch. Since then, tradeshows, press, as well as customer inquiries have helped our store presence increase.
Gus: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for Myself Belts?
Talia: Our marketing focus for 2013 is expanding our presence online. We are excited about expanding our website with new content, building our impact with social media, and driving new customers to myselfbelts.com. We are also positioning our brand to expand internationally which is very exciting.
Find the right Domain Name for your business at Fabulous.com!