Growing up, Brittany Garman always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Though, she wasn’t quite sure what kind of business she wanted to build, she knew she wanted create something that combined creativity and practicality.
Knowing this, Brittany majored in interior design and minored in business administration in college and set the foundation for her career. After college, and having worked in the interior design field for several years, she had the idea for her first startup, BashBLOK; a web application for planning and managing personal events. She saw a need for a consumer-based event planning platform and decided to take the leap of faith to build an app! From there, the true learning really began.
With BashBLOK, Brittany was accepted into the LaunchPad2x program which opened so many doors and gave her a skillset that she never thought possible for herself. It’s also where she met her future co-founder for Mina & Vine, Anita Rajendra.
When Brittany and Anita first met, they didn’t quite know that 2 years later we would be starting a business together, but they did share a passion for consumer brands. Having gone through the program together they had been able to establish a strong trust in each other and take the necessary steps as professionals to build Mina & Vine.
Read our interview with Mina & Vine Co-Founder Brittany Garman below!
Tell us a bit about your day to day – and what you love most about what you do?
For me, I work best when I divide my day in half. Time sensitive information and business management is taken care of in the morning and research and development in the afternoon. The second part of the day is my personal favorite because it’s more focused around the creative process. I love learning about new ways to develop a brand and honestly, you can never know too much about this subject when creating a B2C product. I also like to end my day with something fun, either sketching design ideas or making a more lighthearted and personal social media post. I’m inspired by the world around me and I’m happy much of that energy can be used in creating for Mina & Vine.
How did you and your partner, Anita, come up with the idea for Mina and Vine?
It was an accident! After graduating from LaunchPad2x, Anita and I kept in touch by meeting once a month to brainstorm and help each other grow our startups. During one of our monthly meetups, Anita was debating on adding some items to her company LaBelle Bump, a platform for renting stylish maternity clothing, and asked my opinion. One thing led to another and we ended the conversation with, “want to design a product together?” Thus, the idea for our very own patent pending, multi-functional scarf was born!
The Patent Pending Mina & Vina Nursing Scarf
The patent pending Mina & Vine Nursing Scarf provides style and versatility before, during and after nursing. The first and only of its kind to be designed with a magnetic closure and smart fabric technology, going from nursing cover to stylish accessory is a breeze. And speaking of breeze, we use a fabric that is scientifically proven to keep you cool and regulate your body temperature. Nursing has never been so cool!
Why is this product important to you – and why do you think it will make a difference in the lives of those that will buy it?
For me, Mina & Vine is fulfilling the creative yet practical challenge I’ve always desired in a career. But, it’s become so much greater than that. Our scarf is a product for women by women and solves a real problem. Anita and I share a passion for creating pieces that make women feel confident and beautiful. The scarf is a true reflection of that belief and provides versatility and style to any stage of life, nursing or not.
How did you find your fabric? And find where you were going to have the product produced?
It was critical for our product to be constructed with a cooling/temperature regulating fabric. In the beginning stages of developing our product we interviewed hundreds of nursing mothers in search the number one complaint during breastfeeding. The number one complaint was heat produced by both mother and baby! The answer seems so obvious with skin to skin contact and your hormones bouncing all over the place. This helped narrow our search and we were able to find a fabric that can cool the body up to 2 degrees fahrenheit.
Finding the right manufacturer is honestly a challenge for any brand. For us, we really wanted to find a U.S. manufacturer. Being a first time product developer, we wanted the peace of mind in being able to pick up the phone if necessary to ask questions. We did some good ole fashioned Google searches and found a few contenders but ultimately, we decided on a U.S. based manufacturer by referral of a fellow LaunchPad2x graduate.
What made you and Anita decide to go with Kickstarter to raise funds? Did you consider going to an investor at all?
We very casually considered an investor but ultimately loved the energy Kickstarter brings to developing brands. You are raising funds from real customers who will use the product. And, they get to be part of building the brand too. It’s so special and very personal. The enthusiasm for our supporters thus far has given us a great boost and validation for the product.
All The Ways You Can Wear It!
What do you feel the biggest challenge that you’ve faced starting Mina and Vine?
Time. We both had existing startups and the question was, “do we have enough time to give it our all.” Somehow, we’ve made it work because we believe in the value of this product and what it brings to our customers.
Do you have a specific person that’s inspired you or mentored you, that one specific person that’s really influenced you?
I owe a great deal to two very special women; Bernie Dixon, founder and CEO of LaunchPad2x and Kathryn Sabol, business coach and former owner of Princess Linens. To say the least, these women are rock stars. It’s challenging to put in to words just how much they’ve motivated and inspired me but they both have changed my life.
What apps or software can you not live with out?
We could not function efficiently with our day-to-day without Hootsuite, Google Drive, Sheets and Docs. I am also loving Splice and Legend for short video content. They are so user friendly and generating a professional looking video takes a matter of minutes.
What 3 pieces of advice would you offer to someone looking to start his or her own business?
- Read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Reis. I wouldn’t even consider starting a business unless you’ve read this. The book focuses on research, research and more research. You have to create a product that people actually want to buy and solves a hair on fire problem. The only way to do that is by interviewing potential customers, analyzing data and catering to what people need.
- Find a group of like minded group of entrepreneurs and help each other grow. Participating in the LaunchPad2x program is honestly the smartest decision I ever made. The LaunchPad ecosystem continues to grow even though I went through the program 3 years ago I’m still meeting the most fascinating women with incredible determination. It’s energizing and you just never know how much a network will continue to impact your life.
- Be patient. I’ll admit, this is still hard for me because I want everything done yesterday. Everything, and I do mean everything will take longer than you want it to but you just have to keep moving forward.
Mina & Vine Kickstarter Page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2039647205/smart-nursing-scarf-versatile-cool-fabric-easy-clo?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=mina%20and%20vine
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minaandvine
Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.
Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site FanBolt.com