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The Local Profile - EDM

The CoverBoo Story

May 13th, 2014

Edmonton is a city full of entrepreneurs of all kinds and this story is about a mom who created something she herself could use. I personally, have been following the CoverBoo story for a while now....I actually think I had 3 in rotation at one point while I was a nursing mama and continue to use them because they are just so darn beautiful. If you don't know what a CoverBoo is, let us introduce you to it. CoverBoo Nursing Scarf is worn as a fashion accessory that does NOT LOOK like any of the other nursing covers currently out on the market. It offers the convenience of having a nursing cover readily available – as it is already being worn.

The life and journey of an entrepreneur is not an easy one but that's no surprise. We had some questions for Maria Flores, the creator of the CoverBoo. We hope her story inspires you, as it has us.

What are some of the “hats” you wear? (ie mom to how many? Wife? Etc)

MARIA: Mom to 2 energetic boys (and two crazy dogs). Wife to a super husband who spoils me with his kitchen/BBQ masterpieces. CareGiver (aka chauffeur) to my mom. Creator of the CoverBoo Couture Nursing Scarf. Graphic Designer.Business Owner. 

What’s your background? Previous employment/schooling?

MARIA: I was in Graphic Design industry for the better part of my adult life. I used to design and build architectural signage, corporate identities, logo design, and tradeshow signage and advertising. I studied at NAIT & Grant McEwan.  

What made you think of your product?

MARIA: As a new mom, I was always hesitant about nursing in public - I wanted a solution to ease my anxiety, still feed my baby quickly, discreetly and super conveniently --- and still look fashionable doing so. I thought about ways I would wear a scarf and thought about what parts of my body I always tried to cover while nursing. And when I thought about it, it really wasn't all about the chest and breasts. My main goal was to figure out how to make a scarf, (something I'd wear anyway) into a nursing cover that would easily cover my back and muffin top while I was breastfeeding.

How long has it been between that first thought & your first product?

MARIA: It was a few months after I started Breastfeeding before  I finally found the motivation and time and energy to whip out the old sewing machine. It was a sunny afternoon, the wee boy was sleeping, the husband and his buddy were in the garage working on the bike, and I finally had some peace and quiet.I took a few scrap pieces of fabric and started playing with different lengths.  And later that afternoon I came up with the First CoverBoo ! The fabric was a dark brown stretchy material. Its a little smaller than what the CoverBoos are now. I had to play around with different sizes to figure out what worked best for most moms out there. 

What was the first thing you did to put your product out there?

MARIA: After I made it, I wore it everywhere ! It became a staple part of my everyday outfits. I showed it to a few moms in play groups, and then I found that random women were approaching me and asking where I got my nursing cover. I then decided to make more and sell them to a few moms, then on kijiji, then on etsy...

For the first couple weeks, I lived, ate and breathed all things "Nursing Cover " related. Research, Branding, logo design, websites, blogs, more sewing, social media set up....etc.etc. etc. It was like a surge of electricity that was running through me. I had something to do that didn’t really have to do with : the house, or groceries, or diapers....It was like I had tunnel vision with this. Any spare time I had was solely getting this Idea of mine off the ground and out there into the world! 

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

MARIA: Some of the challenges were finding the right kind of fabric & patterns and some seamstresses to help me keep up with the orders. Other challenges are finding how to expand into other retail markets outside of Alberta. My Biggest Challenge right now is to try to keep the momentum going. Staying focused and motivated to grow. 

Did you have anyone help you along the way?

MARIA: I absolutely have had help along the way! I can’t say that CoverBoo would be as well-known as it is now if it were not for some of the wonderful business women here in Edmonton! We Have SUCH a supportive Community!

One of The Creators Of Bibagogo first met with me and introduced me to a handful of local entrepreneurs who would play a very integral part in the growth of the CoverBoo Couture Brand! Special Shout outs to some of CoverBoo's cheerleaders : Nicola of (Sprogs.ca, emomnow, UrbanMommyExpo), Patricia of La Bebe Boutique, Harmony & Candyce of Buddhibaby.I fully support cross promotions - We all Grow our businesses together! 

What has been a memorable moment along your journey?

It’s more like MOMENTS. PLURAL. The first year was my most memorable. It was like a blur of excitement. The rush of having a new idea evolve into a new business and watching that business grow. Every mention in a magazine or having your product shown on TV spots was like Christmas Morning! The first time CoverBoo Couture Nursing Scarf was among Modern Mama's  Top 40 "Hot Tot Products" I think I danced in my kitchen with glee! And then meeting Meeting Arlene Dickinson of "Dragon's Den" fame, Meeting Ms. Nanny Robina from "The Mom Show" & "CityLine", meeting one of Canada's Day Time TV Hosts: Ms. Tracy Moore of Cityline. Auditioning for a Spot on Dragons Den.

It’s just so cool to think that all this started off because I was playing with my sewing machine in my kitchen. And now the CoverBoo has been shipped across Canada, and the United States. From New York to California and Nevada to Phoenix and Ohio to Hawaii, From Cuba to Australia and the orders keep staggering in. It blows my mind EVERY time! 

We know you’ve tried out for Dragon’s Den a few times – what’s that experience been like?

MARIA: I tried out 3 Times. The first time it was a RUSH of excitement, CoverBoo was still fairly new. I pitched to 2 female producers. And while they said they said they liked the product, they wanted me to come back again next year with more stats on sales etc. So I came a 2nd time armed with sales that were 10X the previous year and 4 moms with babies to model & demo the CoverBoo. That year we pitched to a male producer who wasn't as interested. If the Producer likes you, he has to pitch you & your idea to another team of producers back in Toronto. Where they all go thru their favorite products and pitches they deem TV worthy - or would just make for good entertainment. I went back again this past February to pitch for a 3rd time. This time I went  alone, one of the first ones there as usual. I wasn't nervous - It was just business. I pitched to two women who liked the product, and actually got a couple to bring back to Toronto for their friend's baby shower. Sadly I didn’t get a call back to pitch to the Real Dragons Den Investors. But I don’t regret auditioning - it was a great experience, and I still received a lot of interest in CoverBoo via social media. A few Magazines picked it up and a few stores contacted me because of the Buzz that auditioning for DD had generated. 

Has anyone ever said “You should just quit” – what did you say to the naysayers?

MARIA: Sadly YES. I did have one person say that the chances of my product really succeeding was pretty slim. That it’s a nice hobby but I should find myself a proper 9-5 job with benefits to properly take care of my family..... Well..... I had a few choice words about that comment. Many of those words I can’t repeat here because it’s a family magazine :) While I realize there is some truth to that comment, I also know what I am capable of, and what we need to do as a family to be happy and still make ends meet. I've had my ups and downs with CoverBoo - like most businesses do. It’s all a learning curve and even if I do fail miserably, at least I had the guts to do it in the first place. I'd rather take a chance with an idea that excites me and allows me to meet new people and work at home with my kids than be stuck at a job that I hate for 8 hours everyday. I've been flexible enough to find a happy medium working part time and still doing CoverBoo stuff while raising a family. 

What’s your vision? Where do you see your business in 5 years? Paint us a picture.

MARIA: My goal has always been the same. Simple. I strive for it to be a self-sustaining business and In 5 years I hope to have the product carried in many more stores across Canada and the USA. And possibly featured on more TV spots. I'd love to be on CityLine or Ellen. - ( Hey a girl can dream right ?! )

Visit www.coverboocouture.com for more information on the CoverBoo or it's creator, Maria and hey, if you know a nursing or pregnant mama, why not share this great Edmonton product with them.

~Chris

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