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Turning Problems into Solutions | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 249: Ingrid Carney, Ingrid & Isabel
My guest this week is Ingrid Carney, founder and CEO of Ingrid and Isabel. She spent six years at three of the top five global advertising agencies before migrating to Silicon Valley startups. But it was her own personal experience with pregnancy that inspired her greatest business success.
After struggling with what to wear, she thought of a simple problem solver to keep her pants up as her belly grew. This helped her get more life out of her own clothes. Her invention, the Bellaband, became wildly popular. Her maternity retail sales brand is the now the largest in the U.S.
4:29 – Ingrid 101
- Ingrid is married and has two daughters. She was pregnant with her oldest daughter, Isabel, when she got the idea to create the Bellaband. They live in San Francisco.
5:29 – Favorite place she has lived
- She lived in Italy, and it will always hold a special place in her heart.
7:45 – Entrepreneurial spirit
- Ingrid doesn’t remember having an entrepreneurial spirit when she was younger, but she found a letter she wrote to her grandmother about wanting to run a business.
- She never set out to own a company, employ people or be a CEO. She only wanted to help other women.
10:28 – Career path
- Before starting her company, she worked in advertising and marketing and leaned into the creative side of herself. She loved talking to people and asking questions about products and services.
- She then worked for startups in Silicon Valley and worked alongside engineers. It helped her hone her skills of helping people and marketing to different audiences.
15:53 – Pregnancy problem turned inspiration
- Ingrid found that control top pantyhose were not flattering, so she folded them down. It softened the line at her waist and smoothed things out.
- When she was pregnant, she started problem solving when her pants didn’t fit correctly. She wrapped an Ace bandage around her waist, but it didn’t work. Then she put a tube top over her pants, and it worked.
24:05 – Sustainability
- Ingrid invests a lot into sustainability and wants to educate her consumers. She supports domestic and international production when done correctly.
33:44 – Selling like hotcakes
- She took baby steps and measured risks and asked mom friends to test her Bellaband samples and give her feedback.
- Her Bellabands started selling like hotcakes, and it took her less than three years to become a seven-figure business.
46:01 – Get to know you
- What childhood movie she can’t get out of her mind? Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- Song she has to sing along to? A Mariah Carey song with high notes, and Chainsmokers songs
“Every company needs its superpower, whatever it is. For some people, it’s fabric.” – Ingrid
“I took a break, I had a baby, I went through post-partum depression, came up for air and was like, ‘Let’s do this.’” – Ingrid
“We slowly went out and started to expand when we had validation from the market.” – Ingrid
About Ingrid Carney:
Ingrid spent years in advertising, but it was her own personal experience with pregnancy that inspired her greatest business success. Struggling with what to wear, she thought of a simple problem-solver to keep her pants up when her pregnant belly grows, suggesting she NOT buy maternity so soon, but get more life out of her own clothes. Nearly twenty years and twelve patents later, Ingrid’s widely popular invention (the Bellaband®) evolved into the maternity apparel company Ingrid & Isabel, which is now the largest maternity retail-sales brand in the US.
About the Brand, Ingrid & Isabel:
In 2003, the Bellaband® hit the shelves as the first pregnancy belly band on the market. Today, that single invention has grown into a national company offering a full-range of maternity essentials sold in specialty stores across the country, as well as major retailers like Nordstrom, Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, Gap and more. In 2017, the brand launched their sister line, Isabel Maternity by Ingrid & Isabel, which is available at more than 1,800 Target stores nationwide. From belly to baby, the brand’s got your back – they try everything they make on actual pregnant women, tailoring the fits to real bodies of all sizes at every stage of pregnancy and postpartum. The brand source’s the highest-quality fabrics with the softest feel and stretch, and only work with WRAP-certified factories, ensuring humane and ethical conditions during production. Ingrid & Isabel is indeed a brand for Moms by Moms.
Thank you to our partners of the show:
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I’d like to introduce you to Deux Mains. In French, Deux Mains means two hands. Why ‘two-hands’? Because everything they create is made by trained artisans who use their two hands to make their life better while crafting beautiful products.
Truly, this is a company that set out to change lives and make a positive impact in the world. It started when the founder, Julie, wanted to create dignified jobs in Haiti, a place she was growing to love, and that was exploding with creativity. She wanted to share this talent with the world.
Julie set up an educational program to train people with artisan skills and then went on to build a factory that operates on 100% solar energy. Deux Mains now employs more than 40 artisans that handcraft premium leather goods, jewelry and sandals. Their lives are forever changed by their craft.
What’s also cool is their products incorporate an eco-friendly twist, working with responsibly sourced materials and repurposed inner-tube and tires in their designs.
When you buy from Deux Mains, you get to be part of a movement that is making a difference in the world, while adding an incredibly well-made piece to your closet that supports conscious living!
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