After the birth of her first son, Marie Wakefield quickly learned what a problem breastfeeding in public could be, and so she brainstormed with her sister-in-law Joanne and her mother Donna and together the three women created the NursEase Nursing Shawl. Joanne and Marie took sewing classes so that they could sew the shawls themselves and they now manufacture and sell the shawls on their website (www.bellies-beyond.com), along with other items. They are currently also selling shawls wholesale to other websites and specialty retail stores and are hoping to expand to larger retail companies in the near future.
Before this business venture, neither Marie nor Joanne had business experience. Joanne had worked as a schoolteacher and currently substitutes and Marie is starting a naturopathic and midwifery clinic. Their mother Donna had owned a conference management company for many years, though, and so she brought experience into the business.
The most difficult part of opening their business has been the time and research that it has taken to get a business venture rolling. "With kids and other part-time jobs it’s taken us longer to get where we are then if we had no other responsibilities, " Marie says. She recommends The Mom Inventors Handbook by Tamara Monosoff for those mothers who have an invention idea. She also advises to take your time when setting up a business, as the launch can seem overwhelming and, at times, even impossible. Other tips include: keep your initial costs low, talk with other people, and keep a long list of things that you need to do, crossing them out as they get completed and adding to the list as needed.