Ingrid & Isabel is the company that invented the BellaBand; maternity’s must-have essential. If you’ve ever shopped for maternity gear, you already know about the BellaBand. It’s a simple, easy-to-wear, stretchy band that grows with you and your bump. Just slip it over the waistband of your favorite pants, and wa-la, instant hold and comfort without the bumps or bulkiness. And the best thing is, this simple little accessory gets you all the way through pregnancy. From the early days of “I know something you don’t know” secrets – all the way through to 40 weeks – and even beyond. It’s a truly marvelous invention.
We had a chance to meet up with Ingrid Carney, the inventor of the BellaBand to ask her a few questions about herself, her family and her invention. Here’s what she had to say ::
iknowamom :: I’ve read the story behind the BellaBand. Once you had the idea, did it take a long time for it to come to fruition?
ingrid :: Yes, it feels like it did. Product testing alone was a 9-month process. The concept began in my own pregnancy in early 2001 when I came to the realization that there was nothing out there to help with the way my clothes were fitting. Once the product was created, I had to go through testing and re-testing to make sure the product worked for women. We finally got our first BellaBand into stores in November 2003.
iknowamom :: What was the biggest (or one of the biggest) obstacles in your launch of the BellaBand and how did you overcome it?
ingrid :: I would say by biggest obstacle was getting the BellaBand into stores. Through my testing, I knew the product was already a success, but at the store level, I initially met with a lot of reluctance and resistance. It was difficult to sell a new product to stores who had no idea what it was for or why people would want to buy it. But my big break came when I brought the BellaBand to a store where the owner herself was seven months pregnant. She complained that none of her pants were staying up anymore, so I asked her to try it on right there in the store, and she fell in love.
iknowamom :: What was the best piece of advice you received when you were starting the business?
ingrid :: Well, there were a couple. The first, believe it or not, it came from Julia Clark on a talk show interview. Her advice was to make sure you have good childcare because you need to be able to confidently focus your time on both your business and your family. Work time needs to be dedicated to work, and family time needs to be dedicated only to family.
The second great piece of advice came from my dad. He asked me what the most important thing about my business was going to be. “The product,” I told him. “No, the people!” he said. A thorough interview process is worth the effort because the right person will eventually walk through your door. And with managers and directors, ensuring that they bring knowledge you don’t personally have is vital in taking your company to the next level.
iknowamom :: What has been the biggest reward/payoff from inventing the BellaBand?
ingrid :: I enjoy the feeling of ownership over my days and my weeks. I get to set my own schedule and I get to do what I feel is right. It allows me time to focus on being a mom.
iknowamom :: Can you suggest any valuable resources (books, magazines, websites) that helped you along the way?
ingrid :: People and advice. One of my favorite resources that I rely on is an online group in San Francisco, called “Works For Me”. We’re an online group of working women in the Bay Area that support each other professionally. We can resource with one another and ask advice of each other.
iknowamom :: What is your favorite way to take a break from the business?
ingrid :: I love to travel with my family. My girls are at the ages that they can appreciate and enjoy new places, so we love to travel with them.
iknowamom :: Favorite indulgences?
ingrid :: I love a good date night with my husband. I love working out. And I love my dance class.