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The Local Profile - EDM

The Glamorous Life of an Entreprenuer?

February 16th, 2014

Submitted by: Tasha Bertrand and Annemarie Brattland

Imagine trying to complete a phone call with the Nordstrom buyer and you have a dog barking and a child crying in the background…….we live this everyday….and we love it.

It all started when my business partner, Annemarie Brattland, and I were discussing a problem that had annoyed us from day one.  Constantly cleaning our infants’ pacifiers.  There is nothing worse than picking up the dropped pacifier, picking lint off of it and inspecting it with your bare eyes to see if there are any dangerous bacteria lurking.  Deciding nope it looks good, and popping it back into babe’s mouth.  We hated finding soap and water while out and about and we really disliked trying to get the soap suds out of the pacifier.  That’s when we decided that we would find a better way.

At the time were owners of a salon and spa and had seen a technology used to clean implements.  It was UVGI.  We knew we were onto something and began researching every aspect.  After about six months we were confident that we could make something to solve our problem.  Then came decision time.  We had built our spa into a thriving business that was providing a nice living for our families.  Do we sell a successful business, with the hopes of creating a new one, or hang onto the successful one and put our vision on hold?

Like most entrepreneurs, we risked it all and sold the business for seed capital to fund our new venture.  We were on our own with only our research and some pencil sketches for our product. 

Let me give you a little background on ourselves, I was previously a senior medical representative for a leading pharmaceutical company and Annemarie was a mental health therapist in a day treatment program for children. We are not scientists, engineers, industrial designers or nanotechnologists.  All of these would be required to create our product…..did that stop us?  NO!  We found good people to help us.  We reached out to people way above us in their fields to help and almost everyone we reached out to did help us in some way. 

Remember everyone started somewhere and if you are afraid to reach out and ask for help, you will never get far.

We skipped using an industrial design firm after the quote of $150,000 to develop the prototype came back.  Instead of using them, we just did it ourselves with the help of our factory.  It is amazing what you can do when you have to.  Did the process to getting a working prototype get exhausting and scary, to be honest yes.  We knew our product would change the way mothers cleaned their infants’ items like pacifiers, bottle nipples and sippy cups.  We used to be those mothers using their mouths like a dishwasher…it was easier.  We knew our product would be the answer to getting people to sterilize more often because it is safe and more importantly convenient way to ensure items contain no dangerous bacteria when you give them back to baby.  We knew that would make a difference in a baby’s life.

Once we had a working prototype we had it lab tested for Strep, Staph and e-Coli.  Why these?  After consulting with labs we knew we were covering Gram positive, Gram negative and the hard to kill double wall cells.  Not to mention these bacteria are very prevalent in everything we come into contact with, and for those unlucky enough to become infected, can have some very scary consequences.

After getting fantastic lab results from 3 different labs, we were confident that we could eliminate up to 99.9% of bacteria from infant items in 4 minutes, we were ready to launch.

This was overwhelming!  We launched in Canada in May and we were off to the US for our big launch in October 2013.  Since then we are in numerous boutiques and some big stores like Best Buy, Future Shop and are finalizing Nordstrom!  We also are exporting to Korea, Mexico and are in talks with 3 other countries to carry our product.  This exporting thing we learned all by ourselves too, we also trademarked and incorporated ourselves in the US and Canada. 

The reason I wrote this and told you all about our experience as entrepreneurs was to show you that we are everyday moms, with some decent business sense, that have navigated the incredibly muddy waters and made a product that our kids see on store shelves every day is possible and rewarding. 

If you have an idea, are determined and can devote endless hours to pursue it…you can do it because two moms from a town of 6,000 have done it and they are just like you.  Another thing that helps is to have a horseshoe implanted anywhere on your body, just pick a spot, we find it helps! 

Good luck on your journey and remember all the successful people in the world started where you are right now.

Tasha Bertrand and Annemarie Brattland are the founders of Bert&Bratt Inc.

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