( ENSPIRE Business ) “Bess the Inventor,” Mother of Three, Uses Business, “Brush Bib,” to Help the Frustration of Cleaning Baby Bottle
ENSPIRE Contributor: Octavia Johnson
Parents would look into products that provided a barrier for splashbacks when cleaning their baby bottles. Bessie Lee-Cappell, who works for the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia. As a mother of three children, ages 12, eight, and, she developed her “Brush Bib” business and its unique products out of frustration of cleaning out her children’s bottles. That frustration provided the drive that creates a durable, safe, and easy to use, and small enough to put away when not in use. The brush bibs also come in neutral colors.
“The Brush Bib is the beginning of an innovative life for me. Parents who have multiple children know that the more children you have the more hectic your life becomes. Having two school-aged children, a newborn who demands much of my time, breastfeeding, pumping, recovering from a C-Section, and then returning to work, all became hectic.” – Bessie Lee-Cappell
Please see the ENSPIRE Magazine interview with Lee-Cappell on her road to creating “Brush Bib” and helping other parents with cleaning their bottles.
What made you want to start the Baby Bottle Brush Bib Company?
Many individuals know that each baby and child differs. This is especially true for my children. My youngest demanded much more attention because he was our first NICU baby. He became reliant on pacifiers and he also had difficulty latching onto my breast. Because he preferred pacifiers and bottles, cleaning/washing bottles early on became a new task for me that I was not used to. My first two children latched to my breast without any issues. I began washing multiple bottles daily and endured the “dreaded splashback” when I would remove the bottle brush from the bottle. While on maternity leave, the splashback was a slight bother, however, when I returned to work, it became more of a bother as it was leaving water splatter stains on my blouse. I said to myself “there has to be something on the market to reduce the splashback.” As a result, I purchased more expensive bottle brushes. Many bottled brushes had descriptions that read “reduced splashback.” However, I felt as if the splashback was worse with the more expensive brushes. I then searched for barriers for bottle brushes, but could not find any. This is what prompted me to create my barrier. I began using my baby’s bibs (tieing them around the brushes), which would work, but the bibs were cloth-made and remained wet. Deciding to make the barrier using a better material (silicone) became a thought, but silicone material was very expensive to purchase so I used material that imitated silicone. I made a couple of barriers for myself, and then a friend of mine (who was expecting her first baby) asked if I could provide one to her as a gift. I laughed at first, but then said “sure.”
My friend was impressed and encouraged me to market my barrier. After she made the suggestion, I began making videos of the barrier, called the barrier the Brush Bib, and the outpour of support regarding the Brush Bib was amazing. At this moment, I knew I was on to something good. My creativity began to take off as I continued to come across frustrations as a parent. Searching and not finding products on the market to meet my baby’s needs as well as my own needs as a parent, is what inspires me to keep creating/inventing useful products.
Please describe what the baby bottle brush does and how it can help parents.
The Brush Bib is a silicone protective barrier that goes on bottle brushes to prevent you from being splashed on when you wash the bottle and pull the brush out. It is made out of 100$ silicone, BPA-free, eco-friendly, and dishwasher safe. Our barrier helps parents wash baby bottles without the hesitation of being splashed in the face with sour milky water. Washing bottles is far from fun for many of us parents, so why not reduce some of the frustration that’s involved in the process?
Were there any obstacles when making the product? Were there any memorable moments?
There were many obstacles when developing the product, such as finding the proper circumference that would capture the splashback. I made some too small, which resulted in me still being splashed on. I then made it too big, which became visually unpleasant. Eventually, I came across the proper dimensions to not only prevent the splashback but also was small enough to be visually pleasing for parents. Finding the proper material is also another obstacle. I knew that I wanted a material that was easy to clean, flat enough to store away, and easy to dry from the splashback. I knew silicone was my best option, but trying to find silicone for hand making an item was difficult and expensive. As a result, I stumbled across a material that was similar to silicone and less expensive.
Memorable moments for me are the vending events I would attend. Meeting other entrepreneurs and gaining their interest and words of advice and wisdom was invaluable. Seeing the smiles on customers’ faces as I explained my invention, is priceless. Hearing individuals walk past my table and say “Shark Tank” or “Where were you when I had my babies?” are all memories that resonate with me.
How did you keep an open mind when competing with other baby products that are on the market?
Not only am I the owner/founder of my companies, but I am also the inventor of all my products. I have what other companies do not have, and that is me. Many companies have a planning and developing committee. I am on the planning and developing committee. If one person, that being me, can create and execute such unique baby products on my own, other companies better watch out.
What’s the best advice you could give for someone who may want to create their product to help others?
Go for it. Do not stop, no matter how hard and difficult it becomes. You are needed and wanted by many.