In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2013, Empress Avenue chatted with Ysabel Li-Lopez, Founder of Canadian company Nurture-Elle Nursing Apparel (based in Ottawa, ON). They sell stylish, trendy and comfortable nursing wear from nursing tops, nursing tanks, extra long nursing tops, 3/4 nursing tops, and nursing Dresses, that will make your public breastfeeding experience more private.
1. Tell us about yourself, your career or business.- Nurture-Elle Nursing Apparel started back in 2010 with the birth of my first child. I wanted to breastfeed my baby and therefore decided to buy breastfeeding clothing available in the market at that time. After trying many of these clothes, I realized that they were three major drawbacks: a) Faulty design – they did not provide me the discretion I wanted when nursing in public places or in front of other people. I always had to hide myself from others or remain in private rooms. b) Small openings – The openings were too small and very difficult to access. It neglected its whole point of being a nursing top. c) Out of fashion – these clothing were noticeable nursing tops. Their designs were old-fashioned and didn’t come in the variety of colors I was looking for.
After having that experience, and given my professional background of 17 years in the textile sector, I decided to create my company and design my own breastfeeding clothing. In order to really capture the needs of real mums looking for comfortable, elegant, and stylish nursing tops; I designed my nursing tops with the advice of my lactation consultant as well as the opinion of breastfeeding mothers. …And this is how Nurture-Elle started.
I designed my nursing tops with the advice of my lactation consultant as well as the opinion of breastfeeding mothers. …And this is how Nurture-Elle started.
2. Describe your most recent business success and tell us about your next big goal!- We are being recognized by breastfeeding moms and retail stores as a Canadian company that ethically manufactures high-quality, fashionable, and beautiful nursing tops.
3. Give us the ‘inside scoop’ – what does a day in your business life look like?- I am a breastfeeding mother of 2 children, a wife and a natural entrepreneur. My days are spent balancing marketing efforts, planning or overseeing production, meetings with clients, getting shipments in from Peru and also out to customers, and preparing for the next tradeshow or demo. I spend my evenings with my computer on my lap catching up with emails or doing much needed tweeting, Facebook posting or pinning.
4. If you were not doing this job, what is your plan B? Are you still chasing your dream job?- Luckily for me, this is my dream job, to be a business owner. My plan B?…I guess if I were not in the breastfeeding clothing industry, I would probably have another type of business according to the market that I belong to. Since I am a breastfeeding mom, I know my target market and my niche.
You have to love what you do, because you should enjoy working on it and you are willing to invest your time, energy, and ideas.
5. Do you think it’s important to love what you do, or make good money?- I think it is a combination of both. You have to love what you do, because you should enjoy working on it and you are willing to invest your time, energy, and ideas. All this of course towards seeing business grow and, hopefully, make good money out of it.
6. Is owning your own business as glamorous as it sounds?- Not every day. All types of businesses have their ups and downs. A business owner has to have the skills to overcome the downs as well as to manage the ups with caution.
7. Where did you get your education? Tell us about this experience.- I have a BA degree in Business Administration from Lima, Peru; as well as a Marketing diploma from Algonquin College here in Ottawa, Ontario. My academic background certainly gave me the necessary tools to have an entrepreneurial mind and a natural desire to be a company owner. I opened my first company at the age of 18. My company was also in the textile industry. Since I was also a full-time university student, I quickly learned to manage my time for both, my business and my studies. That experience was eye-opening as I discovered that, with the right mind-set, it is possible to do two important things simultaneously. I have had this attitude ever since. On my professional side, I have also worked for Coca Cola, Gold’s Gym and the YMCA. Currently, I am engaged in two concurrent activities: I have my own business, Nurture-Elle Nursing Apparel, and also work full time for the YMCA-YWCA as a Business Consultant.
8. Where do you manufacture your products? How did you source the correct manufacturer?- Our garments are 100% manufactured in Peru. Through my company, we are creating a CHAIN OF SUPPORT FOR WOMEN. This is how…our garment suppliers are small companies lead by women entrepreneurs who are the only financial support to their families. We are very careful when we choose our suppliers and the criteria is not only based in the quality side but also we want to work with people that are helping other people, especially women. For instance, I can tell you the story of one of our suppliers, her name is Betty and she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, just 2 months after the birth of her child. She went through all the procedures and now she is cancer free. Once she was ready to work, she went back to her business and found out about us through one of her friends. She contacted us, we met, and the rest is history.
9. What are your plans for expansion?- Our plans for expansion are to penetrate in the European market, get more stores in the US, and position our Nurture-Elle Nursing tops as the favorite breastfeeding garments for Canadian moms. Currently, you can find Nurture-Elle nursing tops in more than 40 stores throughout Canada and US. Also, the products can be found and purchased 24/7 at our website www.nurture-elle.com. On our website you will also be able to see detailed pictures of the openings, written and video testimonials from moms that have purchased and used our products, as well as testimonials from retail business owners who carry our products in their stores.
Get the job experience before you start your own business. It is important to be surrounded with experienced people and learn from them before venturing in your own business.
10. What is your favourite travel hot spot?- Cuba!
11. Can you offer any advice for new graduates looking for a job or new entrepreneurs?- My advice is: Get the job experience before you start your own business. It is important to be surrounded with experienced people and learn from them before venturing in your own business.