Belevation Maternity Underwear has evolved from being a twinkle in our eyes in late 2007, to the status of a savvy preschooler - in 2013. Having worked as a B2B service for the textile industry for many years, we had a lot to learn about the best way to reach 21st century consumers.
It's been a very slow process, but we haven't quit yet. Along the way, I've held several dumb second jobs to help pay the bills, but my low pay and under appreciation in those positions has just driven me harder toward Belevation's business success.
So here it is; my best advice for mompreneurs, women who can envision working incredibly hard, but doing it on your own terms. This list is for you:
1. Make sure someone in your house has a day job so you're not putting all eggs in one basket. The Small Business Administration says most businesses fail in the first 5 years. Know that upfront and protect yourself accordingly.
2. Do as much as possible yourself to keep costs low, then reach out to students who are highly skilled at things like websites, but have lower overheads than pros.
3. Make a website right away and get lots of help with SEO. Word Press content management sites are great since they are easy to self-maintain.
4. Network, network, network. We can’t be an island when it comes to anything.
5. Know the competition and be better in your niche. Evaluate what your niche is.
6. Set up your personal and business Facebook and Twitter accounts separately. Potential clients needn't know who you’re voting for, or if you’re in a bad mood.
7. Even though personal should remain personal, keep friends and family up to date online about your business news. Hopefully they will help spread the word.
8. Use advertising selectively. Ads are really expensive and can bust a budget.
9. Send out press releases to news orgs and try to get free mentions. Give back to the community right away since good deeds are newsworthy, so it’s a win win.
10. Giveaways are king with bloggers – so be prepared to give away products and services often to get free publicity. Well worth it compared to buying print ads.
11. Read a good newspaper like the NYT daily. Savvy biz owners need to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world. Read on a tablet on the treadmill, so you can fit in some exercise. Busy people need to kill two birds with one stone.
12. Enjoy your successes, nothing feels better than knowing you've accomplished something yourself. You'll have the best stories to tell on the school bus stop too.
Last night on Netflix, hubby and I watched the 1991 Australian film, The Efficiency Expert. Set in a small town in 1966, Anthony Hopkins plays efficiency expert Errol Wallace. Charged with closing an under-performing moccasin plant, Hopkins emotionless character has a change of heart after he assists workers at a slot car race.
Along with modern classics like Tommy Boy, The Efficiency Expert falls in a special genre of films about saving small businesses. When actor Chris Farley's father Big Tom dies, Tommy goes on the road with side-kick David Spade trying to help their brake-pad company. With unforgettable scenes like the pair driving with a buck in the back-seat and Tommy setting a fire on a clients desk, the laughs are numerous. In a last minute cliff hanger, Spade and Farley prevail and the factory is saved.
Similar messages replay in other favorites from this genre including 2005 British-made Kinky Boots. After inheriting his families manufacturing business, Charles Price learns that Price & Sons Shoes is failing. While in despair about his many unsuccessful attempts to save the company, a chance encounter with a drag-queen, cabaret singer named Lola, helps Charles take the firm in a new direction.
Then there's Renee Zellweger in the 2009 flick New In Town. Like Hopkins, in The Efficiency Expert, Zellweger thinks she understands business until she is captivated by life in this Minnesota town. While corporate sees the workers of Munck Foods only as numbers, Zellweger finds a way to turn Munck around.
Make a resolution that 2012 will be the year you join the movement supporting local businesses. Shift Your Shopping maps out organizations throughout the US and Canada dedicated to re-energizing our retail and manufacturing economy. American Express got on board publicizing their 2nd annual small business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. Make this a year-round effort & bring back jobs to America. Why not buy some American-made maternity apparel today?
Just in time to ring in the New Year in style, I couldn't wait to preview our Facebook book give-away for February - Preggatinis, Mixology for the Mom-to-Be. Author, Natalie Bovis-Nelsen is a Los Angeles mixologist and is the spokesperson for several household-name spirits and wine companies, including Fre, a division of Sutter Wines. Published in 2009, Bovis-Nelsen's book has definitely made a big hit on the mommy scene, with it's fun cocktails and great photographs.
The recipes center around healthful fresh juices and herbs and are especially great for baby showers. Cleverly organized by trimester, there's something for everyone in this pocket size manual, with a few alcohol cocktails offered to keep things interesting for Dad.
Perfect for those expecting on this New Years Eve, if you still want to enjoy the festive holiday atmosphere and great if you're currently breast feeding too.
Many of Natalie's (aka The Liquid Muse) wonderful recipes can be found on the Fre Wine website. Too late to turn back now, 2012 is definitely right around the corner. So, how about enjoying a Merry Berry Basil Mojito? Natalie Bovis-Nelsen, author of Preggatinis, Mixology for the Mom-to-Be
This afternoon I spent some quiet time researching our Belevation mom-to-be give-away for December, The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg. I first learned about Wattenberg's book and accompanying website while listening to an NPR program on baby naming.
Her impressive research and groundbreaking computer models examine name usage and popularity over the last hundred years in the 2005 book. Quoted in recent articles in both the New York Times and Time Magazine, Wattenberg, once a name-searching mom herself, said that people hunger to be different these days.
A result of the internet, a 2010 survey on the pop-culture website Lil-Sugar indicated that 64% of new parents Google their baby name picks before making final choices. Makes sense to see what unknowns may be lurking on your child's "domain" prior to taking the leap.
If you are in a name shopping mode, it's important to enjoy the process, even though it is one of your life's most important decisions. With tools like Wattenberg's Baby Name Wizard, there are now amazing resources to help you with the search. While reading the Times article, I learned about Kick to Pick - a newly released iphone app that claims to let your child pick their own name. Also available for iPod Touches, the app " generates names while monitoring the baby's movements. Any kick detected will then stop the generator at the baby's chosen name, ready for the parents to accept their child's choice or dismiss the name and start their search again." Available for .99 cents, it's definitely a game-changer to think of your baby participating in picking their own name.
If you are interested in upholding more parental control, here's a simple method. You and hubby can make separate favorite lists from a baby name book, narrowing the search to a few alphabet letters that honor loved ones (deceased or alive depending on your tradition). Hopefully there will be at least one name in common on each of your lists. No matter how you do it, possibly combining several of these methods - have fun!
I don't know about you, but I believe in divine intervention. It was that kind of moment, when Monique from Fort Bragg, NC wrote to me on our Belevation Facebook page. Several months ago, we decided to add a XL size to our line of Belevation Maternity garments.
We began making Support Bands and PettiPants in the new Plus, pre-pregnancy 16-18 size. Everything was going well, but two problems dragged out the process of adding the new size range. For one thing, my husband/our technical director - is a perfectionist. Months had gone by while he continued to perfect our seamless Belevation Support Brief.
I began to wonder if we would ever be ready to add our new XL sizing? Finally, after much attention - perfecting the brief, it was time to find a fit model to give them a test run. And then that evening, out of the blue - I received a note from Monique.
"Are you going to add plus sizes ever" she asked? Monique is herself an army veteran, a military wife and the mother of six boys ranging in age from 21 to 1! Twenty-four weeks pregnant with her seventh, Monique explained "that depending on if something runs large or small", she wears anywhere "from an 18-20 to a 22-24 (or 2x/3x)".
Unsure how our new Belevation XL size would measure-up, we sent a package to Monique, in Fort Bragg. One of the largest and busiest military complexes in the world, Bragg is home to almost 10 percent of the Army's active component forces. We were glad to help Monique and were hopeful that she would like what she received. An email arrived from her in my inbox around noon time the next day. "I received the package and I love them! I will say that its definitely NOT a 16-18. Its more like a 20-26 That is my normal size for most maternity clothes, and I fit in these just fine with room to grow the belly and no pinching etc. These are sooo comfortable! I am really impressed!"
Monique's feedback was an affirmation that our new Belevation XL size will be comfortable for a wide range of larger women. I guess all that special attention to detail paid off. And our other problem, our X-large labels had gotten lost on their way to us and had to be remade. Well - finally they arrived today! With patience and a bit of divine intervention, all things are possible. Just ask Monique about patience, as she is soon to be the mother of her seventh boy! Please give our new Belevation Plus size a try. We definitely know you'll like it!
Lately, I've heard from a lot of women who wish that they had known about our Belevation Maternity Support products during their other pregnancies. As a new company, Belevation probably wasn't around when you were carrying your other children. But I understand what you mean, as that's how I feel about Florida Physical Therapist, Micky Marie Morrison's book, Baby Weight. I had done some Yoga in college and loved it, but I didn't stick with it consistently enough to make a difference in my life. Then pregnancy came and hit me like a ton of bricks.
Morning sickness stretched into afternoon sickness, and lasted a full four months. After that finally passed, I somehow viewed myself as kind of fragile. OB-GYN researchers now understand that during most healthy pregnancies it's prenatal inactivity - not exercise, that puts moms-to-be and their babies at risk.
Micky Marie Morrison's new book Baby Weight, released in Oct. 2011, offers a comprehensive look at the changes the body goes through during pregnancy. Her unique vantage point as a health professional, prenatal fitness instructor and a mother makes Baby Weight an important new pregnancy resource. Good practice nutritional principles and information on hormonal and body mass changes are highlighted in a manner that raised my scientific IQ on the subjects.
Building upon this technical info, Morrison makes a strong case for the benefits of sensible, prenatal exercise. Minimizing excess weight gain and building stamina for delivery are certainly two compelling reasons to get moving during pregnancy. The second half of the book includes terrific photos of Morrison's Yoga based Core FitMama exercises, with modifications for your skill level and trimester. But then it gets even better.
As an International Childbirth Education Association certified fitness instructor, Morrison mentors moms continuing with the program after delivery - helping themselves regain stamina, lose pregnancy weight and fight off postpartum depression. Skillful guidance is articulated on how moms can also incorporate their babies and toddlers into these sessions. What a wonderful way to bond with your child, while fostering positive attitudes about healthful living right from the beginning.
Somewhere between Weight Watchers and Gymboree - I wish that I had Micky Morrison's excellent book Baby Weight, now available from Amazon and as Belevation's January book give-away! Like us on Facebook to be entered to win!
When I began researching Prenatal Yoga, it wasn't long before I learned about Jennifer More. Based out of San Mateo, CA Jennifer is a registered Yoga Alliance Vinyasa and Prenatal Yoga instructor, a certified doula, childbirth educator and a mother. Her passion for the benefits of prenatal yoga extends beyond the United States.
She has trained yoga instructors in Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga techniques in Peru, China, South America and numerous US locations. Her techniques have given yoga instructors the tools to modify poses as needed to incorporate pregnant women into their existing classes in a safe and effective manner.
She is the creator of several bestselling prenatal yoga DVDS which have received noteworthy mentions in The New York Times, Fit Pregnancy, Pregnancy Magazine and received the "Top Gear of the Year" award in 2007 from ShapeYou.com.
A perfect companion to our Maternity Yoga Pants, Belevation has decided to offer Jennifer More's Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga 2 DVD set on our online store. We love it because it provides the most flexibility for your yoga practice and can work around your busiest schedules and varied energy levels. One lucky Belevation Facebook fan will receive a complimentary copy during our November give-away. But don't wait till then to begin doing Prenatal Yoga. Enjoy!
The abundance of choices on the net these days for moms is nothing short of amazing. New to motherhood? Well, isolation is a thing of the past, thanks to the thousands of quality sites that have popped on the mom-web galaxy. Nowadays, all geographic areas have mom sites that highlight that locales upcoming events and resources.
Boston Mamas, founded in 2006 by Christine Koh, (a Beantown Mom with a Ph D in music and brain science), "is a one-stop resource for families in the Boston area and beyond". On Boston Mamas you can find out what's happening weekly from Arlington to Wellesley, and everywhere in-between. The easy to navigate search engine helps users swap baby gear, find families with similar age kids or adhere to the shop locally movement.
New York has Big City Moms created in 2003 by a pair of truly amazing sisters, Risa Goldberg and Leslie Venokur, as well as a more recent entry The Pregnant New Yorker, founded last year by Janet Markovits, a prenatal massage therapist.
Here in the Carolinas there's Charlotte Parent, a part of the Parenting Publications of America (whose members include more than 100 parenting publications and websites around the US and in Canada).
Then, there are the huge sites like Cafe Mom which claims to be the # 1 Internet site for moms and is a virtual empire of motherhood. Users can join online groups on Cafe Mom based on your location, religion, hobbies or hundreds of other criteria that meet ones needs.
Or start a new group around a particular topic of interest to you with just a few clicks. When discussing Internet sites for moms, how could we ever forget the trio of slick commercial sites The Knot, The Nest and The Bump . To prepare you for any life cycle moment a twenty-something can think of, these three linked sister sites are a vast retail encyclopedia targeted toward those who are marrying, setting up a home or expecting the stork.
And lastly a new personal favorite of mine, Babble which recently voted for their 2nd annual 50 Top Mom Blogs. Entries are categorized by type : funniest, best design, most useful, best written etc.... Babble is the 2011 version of your mothers Good Housekeeping Magazine, except so much more. It's linkable, clickable and updated continually instead of in monthly installments which were outdated by the time they arrived at moms mail box or the supermarket check-out counter.
The diversity is extraordinary so there's something out there for everyone in this vast world of mom Internet resources. As mesmerizing as it is though, don't forget to get to the park after nap-time to discuss your finds with the real live moms sitting beside you on the bench.
July 21st 2010 - Guidelines back vaginal births after C-sections by Denise Grady- New York Times The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a new set of medical guidelines meant to make it easier for women to find doctors and hospitals that will allow vaginal birth after Cesarean, or VBAC (pronounced vee-back). In 1985, only 6.6 percent of women with prior Cesareans were giving birth normally, but by 1996 the rate had risen to 28%. In 1999 though, this trend was dramatically reversed when the Obstetrician's group issued a warning that surgical and anesthesia teams were required to be present in case an emergency C-section was necessary.
Word spread, particularly in smaller hospitals (due to the extra costs involved in having a team of Docs just waiting around) and VBAC'S were again strongly discouraged. In March of this year, the National Institutes of Health gathered a team of experts to examine this issue. The panel re-affirmed that vaginal birth was safe for many woman with past Cesareans, and they urged the OBGYN'S to reassess their guidelines. The main worry is the risk of uterine rupture during labor, which can severely harm both mother and child, and would require immediate surgery.
Like earlier guidelines, the new theory says that vaginal birth is safe for most women after C-section providing that the cut in their uterus was low and horizontal. (It should be noted that 60-80% of women that attempt VBAC succeed.) Personally, I'd tell women to do whatever feels right for you. When my own son was 2.5 weeks late, and the OB told me he was over 9 lbs and his head hadn't dropped, I told them to make me an appointment. And not to be induced, but for a C-section. Ironically, my young doctor had done his post-doctoral study project on reducing C-sections. And then he met me. I smiled through the event, and haven't regretted it since.