Wendy Armbruster Bell of owner of Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear, is among the women featured in Mom, Incorporated. In the book, she describes how she juggles her freelance Moda de Design business, which offers pattern management services, and Snugabell, which sells the PumpEase hands-free pump bra she created. The job became easier after she hired a bookkeeper.
“When you think of the time you are freeing up by not struggling with something that is not your forte, you will more than make up for the cost of the help.”
Here’s more on Wendy’s journey to success as Mom, Incorporated:
MomIncorporated: How do you manage two separate businesses and your family?
Wendy: Balance is one of the things I struggle with the most. I work a lot, so I try to spend one-on-one time with my girls, sometimes even separately to really make it special. I have also become very familiar with the word “delegate.” For a control freak like me that has been quite the process. But I actually relish it now, with three employees and three contractors among two businesses.
MomIncorporated: How long did it take from conceiving the pump bra to having a product available for sale?
Wendy: I sat on it for a couple of years, using my ugly prototype for both of my babies. So it was about three years total.
MomIncorporated: Were there any special challenges and, if so, how did you overcome them?
Wendy: Packaging was a big challenge. I overcame it by hiring a professional packaging designer — expensive, but worth it. Retail won’t touch you without decent packaging. I also reached out to a colleague of mine who also had a sewn product that was “non-mainstream,” and we chatted about packaging.
MomIncorporated: Have you patented the pump bra – why or not not?
Wendy: Yes, we are filed in Canada and patent pending in the U.S. We chose to follow this path because the construction of our bra is unique, and we wanted to protect that.
MomIncorporated: What are you goals for each of your companies during the next year or two? Do you plan to grow them?
Wendy: I don’t advertise at all for my pattern-making business, and we are fairly steady with work. I would like to move our website into a content management system so I can update it more readily. We are definitely looking at growing Snugabell year-over-year going forward.
We are about to expand our workspace after almost four years of working in cramped quarters plus the eating bar in my kitchen, plus the occasional use of the dining room table. We are also in the midst of designing our entire Toni Top line — bump, breast and beyond (apparel for maternity, nursing, hands-free pumping and post-weaning).
MomIncorporated: Describe your home office setup, favorite equipment — and any favorite software or apps.
Wendy: Our current office set-up is C-R-A-M-P-E-D. I have already started dreaming of the space we’ll be moving into, which is at least four times the present size. My favorite equipment is my MacBook Pro.
MomIncorporated: What advice would you give other women about starting a business?
Wendy: Sit down and make a detailed estimate of what you think your startup costs will be — and then double it.
MomIncorporated: How do you market your business and what seems to work really well for you in terms of marketing?
Wendy: The most success we’ve had is with social media and word-of-mouth. We really don’t do any print. We do advertise on some higher profile websites (The Feminist Breeder, PhD in Parenting, The Leaky Boob, etc) and that works, for the most part. Our marketing in general is quite cheeky, and I think that works well with our customer.