By Toni Carlton
My name is Stephanie McCannon. I want to share my at home business story with all the moms out there who have an idea along with a lot of doubts. My business started out of frustration for a needed product. I was sitting around with some other moms complaining about the lack of nice comfortable nursing clothes. I was planning on nursing for the long haul. At the time my child was just a few months old. I had already lost much of the 80 pounds I gained during my pregnancy as was not about to "cover up" my body with baggy potato sack looking garments. I wanted to wear clothes close to what I wore before I got pregnant. I wasn't looking for something skin tight in leather, I just wanted my close to be form fitting and feminine.
While complaining about the lack of nice, feminine nursing clothes, some of the women urged me to make my own. The thought had never occurred to me because I don't sew a lick. "Find someone to do the sewing", they said. I could do that.
I knew what I was looking for and hoped I could convey that message to a seamstress.
Now, I was excited! I came home that afternoon and started to make some sketches. I don't draw either. But I could roughly outline the types of dresses and shirts I had in mind. I did this and stared looking for a seamstress.
By the next weekly get together with the other moms I had lots of ideas. They suggested I start looking into sewing for other women. They would have loved to have garments like mine when they were breastfeeding. "Now, how am I supposed to do that", I wined.
Another mother who used to work for the city before having her baby said I should start with the SCORE office. SCORE is a group of retired business owners who offer their advice and wisdom. So, I did. I looked up SCORE in the government pages of my local phone book under "Business Administration".
I made an appointment and was disappointed that he couldn't give me exact answers to all my questions and take me by the hand or better yet do everything for me, like make up my Business Plan. Business Plan? I don't know, I just want to have clothes made for other breastfeeding moms like myself. He referred me to the Small Business Association. I dashed over there thinking they would be the ones to do everything for me, including writing this Business Plan everyone is now talking about.
The Small Business Associated proved to be very helpful. Although they would not do everything for me, they did inform me all the necessary things I needed to do and think about. Including coming up with a name for my business, filing with my state, and a host of other business related items I had no clue about. This process took me several weeks. Oh, my local Small Business Administration also gave me some contacts about who might be interested in doing my sewing, other small businesses in my area who might like to help and offer advice. It was through one these contacts that got me going. One person referred me to another.
I had four dresses made. I picked out material at my local fabric shop and found a pattern that came closest to what I had in mind and fit my sketches. I explained how I wanted the dress to look and how I needed access to my breasts. I showed her how it could be done using the pattern I had bought. Although it was only a rough guide to what I wanted. She assured me it wouldn't be a problem and thought she would do just fine. I of course was a little worried. Would the dresses really turn out like I expected or was I just spinning my wheels? She had the dresses done two weeks later. I can only say I was astonished! They were perfect, more like my sketches than the pattern I bought. I started wearing them immediately.
People started asking me in grocery stores, at the post office and just about everywhere I went where I got my dress. Nobody knew they were breastfeeding dresses. Older ladies wanted one made anyway, and wished they had something as nice when they were breastfeeding their own kids.
I started out with my customers buying their own material and me taking it to my seamstress to have made. But, I wanted to grow. I wanted to get on the Internet and let everyone know that breastfeeding moms can do what is best for themselves and their babies and still look and feel stylish and feminine. I wanted to shout it off the mountaintops.
My seamstress clued me in on this outdoor flea market arrangement that sold all sorts of material, and sewing notions. It was dusty and dirty and hot! I was able to pick up some material and started learning about quality. Although it took me a few mistakes until I got it right. Of course I had my little six-month-old baby with me through everything. Every meeting, market, and store I had my baby with me. Of course, some times it was a little hair raising. I was usually a mess by the time I got anywhere. Most people allowed Chase (my baby) to crawl around tear through brochures, business papers, and what ever else he could get his hands on. I would work on my business when I could. Chase was sit on my lap when I had to be on the computer, or I would breastfeed when him while on the phone to keep him quite. He managed to hang up on a few conversations. I would work through part of his nap on my business and try to clean, cook and do other necessary chores. Now Chase is 21 months old and he watches Sesame Street in the morning and plays quietly while I work nearby in the office. By the afternoon, I usually have a few follow up calls to make and errands to run. I never ignore his needs. If he comes to me and asks me dance with him or to breastfeed him or just spend time in the other room with him I comply. As a matter of fact, while writing this we went outside for a bit, had breakfast, changed clothes, breastfed, and hugged and kissed.
Moms can do anything they set their minds to without neglecting the needs of their children.
I found so much support and encouragement from everyone who found out what I was doing. My family was a bit shocked but proud, as where my friends. The only lack of support was from my husband. He didn't want me having my own business. It was a struggle for me. I continued even without his blessings. We just didn't discuss it. I felt very alone not being able to share my little daily triumphs and defeats with him. My family and his said he would come around. I can't say he fully supports me but has given me his blessings.
It has almost been a year and a half. I found a representative in Las Angeles with help from my local library, and am now on the web. I make up flyers using my own computer and put them in local doctor offices. I am always looking for some inexpensive way to get the word out.
I won't say it has been easy, somedays have been disappointing to say the least. I know I have something that is good and others need. I am a big proponent of breastfeeding and believe having nice, feminine, comfortable garments to wear will increase a mother's chance of breastfeeding and breastfeeding longer. I strongly encourage anyone who has a good idea to follow up on it. I didn't know didly about starting my own business. I am learning as I go. There are so many resources out there to help novices like myself. If you follow your own instincts and guidance of others who have been there, there is nothing a mother can't do.
If you would like to contact me about my business or just need some advice, guidance, or a friendly reminder to pursue your dream you can find me at:
Phone: 520 305-9915
Nursing in Style, LLC
11482 East Via Montana
Yuma, AZ 85367