Sometimes those suggestions that pop up, “customers who bought Polyurethane Laminate also bought xyz”, can be really helpful. It was one of these suggestions that led me to the company that manufactures the fabric that I determined I need for my product. I ordered a yard of one that I thought would work and after a relatively brief wait, received it and began my sewing project. Mind you, I don’t have a sewing machine yet.
After creating a rough pattern, I carefully cut the fabric and settled in to hand-stitching my vision. I had to work on the project in shifts, using very cautious movements, during my daughter’s naps while breastfeeding, or sleep-eating. Talk about multitasking!
It took me two naps to finish hand-sewing the first (very rough) prototype. You see, I didn’t have to do this – I could have supplied a company with the pattern or drawings of my creation. But I wanted to see with my own eyes what my design would look like. I needed to know if my design would work. Once completed, feeling very accomplished, I somehow stumbled upon a description of the fabric that I had just used for my one-and-only prototype and realized that I had goofed up once again! The fabric I had used “should not be washed until it is sewn between another fabric”. This meant that as it was, my prototype could not be washed – the fabric was not meant to be used that way.
My product is not meant to be disposable and will need to be washable. Most moms will wash a product before its use with their baby anyway, but I didn’t want that to be required.
Back to the search for the perfect fabric….
I received the fabric that I had ordered and could not wait to get started sewing my very own prototype! A prototype is a three-dimensional version of your vision. I needed to create a homemade version to test my design and bring my product to life.
But wait… The fabric was not quite what I expected. I had ordered some PUL fabric which was very thin and I couldn’t see it working for the purpose I had in mind. Don’t get me wrong, it was great fabric, and I can think of some future uses for it, but I was getting a much-needed lesson in types of fabrics. Polyurethane laminate, or PUL, is more of a waterproof fabric, something that liquid would sort of bead up on or roll off of. Think bibs or rain gear. I needed something that would absorb liquid.
And so I began my search for a more suitable fabric for my creation…
My first step was to begin researching fabric for my creation. I began Googling waterproof fabrics, when what I really needed was absorbent fabrics. I ordered a yard of the fabric I had found, and eagerly waited for its arrival.
In the meantime I began reading a book by Gary Bronga, Bringing a Product to Market From Your Home. He offers some great tips in the book, and it is a quick read (for a review of this book you can visit my author site book review page). Mr. Bronga is a wonderful, very approachable person who is willing to help and generous with his advice. He was extremely nice to take the time to answer some questions that I had.
I also talked to a friend of my dad’s, a semi-retired entrepreneur who acts as a part-time CFO for many different start-up companies. He has also served as a mentor and faculty advisor at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Stanford Business School. I figured with credentials like that, I couldn’t go wrong!
Finally, I talked to a friend whose success I want to emulate. Roberta has a very successful pet bed business – all of her own creation! You may have heard of Snappy Snoozers® pet beds. Roberta was my inspiration to actually begin the whole process of creating my own product.
This might sound crazy, but I didn’t want to waste too much time researching the subject, I just wanted to get going. I’m a big learn-as-you-go type person, and I like to always be working towards a goal. It’s like if I’m not working on something new constantly, I feel stagnant…
As you may know, I write books and stories based on my time in the Central Intelligence Agency, (CIA). What this means for me is a lot of time spent waiting. And waiting. Waiting for the Publication Review Board (PRB) to approve my manuscripts each time I write one and each time I make changes to one. You see, when you go to work for the CIA you sign a secrecy agreement, and that means that if I write anything for publication, they must review it prior to my exposing it to the world. This is to ensure it does not expose any classified information. Those black lines that you see in my books, called redactions, are segments of text that the PRB has deemed classified, or too sensitive for public exposure.
It was during a particularly long wait on the review of one of my books that I decided to move forward with a project that I had thought up after the birth of my first child. I had an idea for a baby product, but had put it aside thinking it would be too hard to create a physical product, or too expensive – actually, I’m not exactly sure why I put the idea aside, but now seemed like a good time to revive the idea. With a bit of inspiration in the form of a friend who created her own successfully selling product, I decided to give it a shot…