Interview with Miss James, developer of pain-reducing leggings
We’re always keen to share new points of view, so we had a chat with Miss James, developer of the new Beltfree maternity leggings and shorts which she’s designed to help with pregnancy pain. Here’s her story…
Tell us a bit about you and your brand. Why did you set up?
I personally experienced back and pelvic pain from 16 weeks of my first pregnancy. I desperately tried to find a product that could not only help me to manage the pain, but that looked good and I could wear throughout my pregnancy, day and night. The only thing that I could find were medical belts and elastic supports, none of which helped. They were also pretty horrible to look at. So I set to making my own!
I wore the prototype that I’d created for the rest of my pregnancy, and then again when I carried my second child. There still wasn’t anything even close to it available, but my pain was just as bad, plus I had another child to look after.
My prototype managed my PGP pain from the very beginning, which meant that I could enjoy the pregnancy, have fun with my son, sleep better plus didn’t have to wrestle with any ugly belts!
What are the foundations on which your brand has been built and how does this translate into every day business?
My mission when I created the Beltfree technology is to change the journeys of pregnant women. Lower back and pelvic pain can be debilitating and can add to an already anxious time for pregnant mums-to-be.
Our mums who have tried them out have felt empowered to enjoy their pregnancies without the pain of pelvic and back pain. I think every woman suffering with this condition is entitled to that, and I want to help as many mums as I can.
What makes you want to be in the baby business?
Every day, I receive messages from pregnant women thanking me for my invention. From helping women to become more active and being able to walk the dog again for the first time in two months, to just having more energy and back support, they are so genuinely positive.
Some of the messages are so emotionally powerful and I get a real buzz from knowing that my products are truly making a difference to their journeys. I know that there is nothing else like my Beltfree leggings and shorts available, and I want everyone who would need them can get a pair that will see them through their entire pregnancy.
You’re just starting up. What are the challenges you’ve faced so far and what are the high-points?
What haven’t I experienced! I have had knock back after knock back, but I always believed in my product. The first challenges were trying to get others to buy into my idea.
I was working full-time as a management accountant, and pitching to investors in my spare time. I stuck at it though and won the backing from a number of initiatives, including being in the top ten of “The Pitch”, and winning on the SIE Fresh ideas business competition.
As well as getting to final stages of other pitches, I gained financial support from Robert Gordon University, and Coventry University helped me with funding for my patent application. That was when I quit my job and really went for it.
At the start of 2020 however, my whole family contracted Covid-19, and we spent most of the last year recovering, homeschooling and trying to launch my business!
To top it off, my photoshoots were cancelled because of lockdown, and Brexit put a question mark over imports. The ultimate high now, though, is that we came through it all.
After a successful Crowdfunder campaign, I have managed to fund a full production run at my factory in Italy and have now launched my website and Amazon shop. Women can now buy a product that will provide instant pain relief with next day delivery.
Tell us about crowdfunding. How do you go about it and did it go well?
Crowdfunding was a completely new idea for me, but as with the rest of 2020, I thought anything was possible. I launched a selection of products with a discounted price, but also asked for donations to support my business.
The campaign was a really busy time, with me promoting it as much as possible, but I received so much support from influencers who loved my idea. Paloma Faith even shared an Instagram Story of her styling a pair of the leggings which helped her with back pain during her pregnancy.
By the end of 2020, we’d hit our target. The money was then ploughed straight back into the business to fund a production run and my new website launch.
What are the next steps?
I’ve just launched my direct website, and am in the process of developing an Amazon store too. My goals for this year include developing petite sizes, working to offer the products to the medical market, and possibly licensing the technology to a sports brand for their maternity active wear collection.
If a retailer wants to stock your products, when are they likely to be available and how will the go about it?
They are available right now! I have a range of sizes that will fit women from sizes 8-20. Retailers can get in touch with me directly by email to discuss placing a wholesale order.
What are your hopes for 2021?
I really hope that 2021 is the year for women to be taken seriously with their pelvic and lower back pain during pregnancy. It’s too easy for medical professionals to refer for physiotherapy or sign a pregnant women off for sickness, but this won’t help the problem. Both options are limited in terms of aiding pain relief, and can also exacerbate maternal mental health concerns such as postnatal depression.
My maternity leggings and shorts will provide the pain relief that will allow women to enjoy their pregnancies. I really hope that they continue to make a difference.