Breathing new life into an old hosiery mill has proven to be “a heck of a retirement project” for Tom and Susan Miles. The couple has transformed the plant in Biscoe into a modern producer of supportive maternity undergarments called Belevation.
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.
A perfect New Years present for 2013, Belevation recently learned that it has been honored with a Mom's Choice Award for our Belevation Maternity Support Brief.
Created in 2004, The Moms Choice Awards are modeled after the prestigious Parent and Teachers Choice Awards which focus on toys, media and educational products. Broadened to include a wider assortment of consumer products for families and children, a team of 155 unpaid MCA volunteers from around the country review submissions.
We waited nervously after sending out 5 Belevation Brief product samples ( in a variety of sizes), to the Virginia based Mom's Choice offices. In 2008, 1200 applicants submitted products to MCA, but only 300 were selected as honorees.
As an independent mom and pop manufacturer, Belevation is always looking for ways to stand out in today's crowded marketplace. You can only imagine how delighted we were when we heard that Belevation's Support Brief won a Mom's Choice silver medal in the women's personal care category.
Why is the Belevation Brief so special? Blogs out there speculate about the best kind of maternity underwear, but we are confident we know the answer. Sure, maybe our fulll coverage maternity panties are a bit frumpy, but that's okay. The buzz words here are comfort and gentle support (in all the right places) because feeling good while pregnant will never be out of fashion.