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July 26, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Cool Baby Gadget Interview with Bessie Lee-Cappell | Baby Bottle Brush Bib Invention

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This is just so inspiring to have you here, Tesla, your, your story is going to inspire so many inventors because there's this perception that bringing a new product to market is like the likes of what huge multinational corporations would do people think of Apple and Amazon. And they sometimes forget that apple at one time was Steve Jobs in his garage. And design was Jeff Bezos delivering the packages to the post office himself. So even these huge multinational corporations start somewhere, but you've done your a lot of firsts, your first in your family, out of seven children to have finished high school, and also the first step graduated from college, you're used to getting things done. And you you've come up with a company that specifically targets babies between zero and three years old. And the single product that the baby bottle brush bed company has developed is invented by you like that, you know, there's so that's, that's amazing. And you've you've found underserved areas in the market, and identified those needs and brought them to the market. And that's its ideal. That's what every inventor aspires to do is to find those areas. So tell us a little bit about yourself and how maybe your your early start, and maybe what what even got you down this path, because this wasn't you weren't born, nobody's born in inventor.

None at all. So I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, born and raised. And like you mentioned earlier, I'm one of seven children. I am the middle child, three older three younger. And, yeah, I'm the first of many within my sibling group. And I'm also the first of many within my family in general. Such as, like you said, to be the first to finish high school, I have my siblings, the first to attend college and graduate out of my siblings, and the first two also, in my family to go to graduate school and finished as well. And I'm the only one with a license and my profession. So I'm a licensed social worker, and I work full time for the city of Philadelphia, with children and families. So to kind of piggyback off of being an inventor, it found me just having it I have three children, ages 12 Eight and two. With my youngest, he was our bottle baby he was our pacifier baby, I breastfed the other two. But with him, I had to give him a bottle because he was a NICU baby, which was our first experience having a little child who had to stay in the hospital at birth. So when he you know was able to be released and come home he was on the bottle. He did not take well to the breast and that was the beginning of our saga to wash and multiple bottles. As a result, when I went back to work from maternity leave, and I realized how much of a headache it was washing bottles and pulling the brush out and getting splashed on. I was going to work with you know, water splatter stains on my shirt on my blouse meeting with attorneys and everyone child advocates. And it was very unprofessional. So I said okay, I have to find something. I looked at the market. There was nothing there. I seen brushes they had, you know the description, reduced splashback, so I knew that was an issue. And I said okay, let me try this brush, it costs more, but if it will solve the problem, fine. I bought a more expensive brush, it did not solve the problem. In fact, I think it made it worse. So I decided to be creative. I started tying in my babies bibs on the brushes, and to prevent the splashback it worked for a little bit but then the biz will remain you know drenched in water and get sour and the bacteria start building. I said okay, I need a different material. So I started using yoga mats and cutting things out until I can get it right and eventually this is how the brush bed was born.

So that expression that necessity is the mother of invention you definitely feel that that's the case so you like a lot of inventors they don't set out to introduce a new product to the marketplace. I mean they start trying to solve their own personal issue that they're requiring me to did you look you looked on the market you said you found some brushes that advertise they were better at reducing this flashback but it's in really you know it was hit or miss right nothing really

right Correct. That is correct. I went for a higher brands and you know at first when you start out you may use like an inexpensive brush and then so I was like okay, well maybe it's because the brush is a little bit of you know lesser quality. Let me go and get a higher and brush and the description read that it reduced splashback. But that was not true not to, you know, my knowledge. And also, I also realized that there were other parents out there, they had the same issues they were complaining when I would see the reviews, you know, on Amazon regarding some brushes, it was like, Listen, this brush the splashing all over me, it's flashing all over the back of my saying and my towels. And how do you know this? I need a better brush. And that's when I'm like, Yeah, this is not just me. This is other parents as well.

You know what, there's some. I mean, we've all seen advertising for some products that the problem seems a bit exaggerated. Like I think we were speaking before about, like static clean, and you see that. And it's like, just can't for the life of her get socks off of her skirt, because there's Yeah. But being the dad for five kids and none of mine are at that age anymore. But I know this is this to know the pain is real like that bottle price. Like to me this if the stiffer the bristles and I don't know what you found, or the splashback. But then you go with soft bristles, then they don't clean, clean as properly, right? So you have to choose like, do you want to have a clean bottle, or just have like a soft, wimpy brush that doesn't do anything but right your shirt. And for guys, a lot of the silk ties are a drop of water is not going to go away. It's it's there you've ruined the pie. So it's a it's a real issue. And I see you you've you've looked you couldn't find it. Have you done and then I know your your patent pending, and you've done a patent search as well. I had an attorney do a patent search to make sure it wasn't something out there.

Yes. So I went to an attorney. I want to say a little over a year ago, when I first came up with the idea before I put it to market at all. I said okay, I have to make sure that no one can take this property. So I searched. I did a Google search to find like a nearby patent attorney and I checked the reviews. And, you know, I was lucky enough to find someone who has been in that field for multiple years. So he's been doing it for 20 plus years. So I was like, Okay, this is the guy I need to see when to him explain to him what I was doing. And he asked I have a prototype. He said it could be a piece of paper, it could be you know, anything, but do you have something to kind of show what you're trying to accomplish? And I'm like, I have photos Yes, of, you know, my trial and error. Exactly, you know, the actual, you know, cut out of the yoga mat on the brush. And I showed it to him and he was like, Okay, I see exactly where you're going with this and what you're trying to do. And he gave me a couple options. And one of the options was filing a provisional patent application. And that's the route that I want that going. And I was really pleased with that.

Okay, that's terrific. So you there was a bunch of trial and error like Yo, you mentioned yoga mats that was I sometimes will see an inventor with a really sophisticated prototype, like professionally done. And to me, that's a little bit of a risk to do too. Because what if you're, you know, if your patent search found that your idea is not new, right, your case, you've ruined a yoga mat. It's not I don't know how much. It's something it's not the end of the world, right? You know, this was years ago, I once had an inventor. And our patent search found that his idea already existed and it was basically a lot over blade with a lot of vertical blades so that when the grass is, is blowing around inside the mower, it's being sliced horizontally and vertically. He had a spent about $6,000 On this beautiful stainless steel prototype. I mean, it was almost art like if he took this blade, you could put it on a wall and it was it was just it's heartbreaking to do a search and find out that that's that he's not the first onset. So I anytime I see in my office, I'll see inventors come in with playdough or foam cups or I've never seen a yoga mat yet.

The first one everything is the

first for everything you use what you have you create a prototype. And that worked for you. Tell me about some of you know a lot of times after an inventors product is on the market and it's selling for New Inventors. That's intimidating because they only see the successes they don't see the hardships and the obstacles and the failures and I know you've had your fair share of those with this product. Tell us about what were some of The biggest setbacks for you.

So for the brush, but in particular, our very first product, the biggest setback is marketing, you know, trying to get it out there to the consumers, and say and let them understand why it's a knee, Ford, why you need it. When something has not been, you know, created before and vetted before other people start saying, Well, why do I need it? Now? You know, we've been doing fine with it for centuries. Why do I need it now? Well, it's the same reason why you now want the Swiffer are the same reason why you now you want a one on the vacuum or a washing machine is just innovation. That's just life. And we know that if without innovation, we will still be hand washing our clothes, not saying there's something wrong with it. But then the dead new day and age as everything is changing, and the world is transforming. Some, sometimes change is good. I believe change is really good. And trying to market that to my consumers have been a struggle, especially in the beginning, because they're like, Well, what is this? What? What what do we do? How do we use it? Why would we need it? Why would I buy a brush and then buy the separately now this is costing me more money. And trying to convey that to the you know, to my, my audience has been definitely a whirlwind. And it's been trial and error. But we've been able to make, you know, headway with it with having, you know, better marketing and being more strategic and our attempt and what we say and how we convey it, showing more research of, you know, parents who use it versus parents who do not, they haven't testimonials, those have been really, really helpful. For parents. It's like, Listen, this really works. This is amazing. And recently, we've done new packaging. So now not only do I sell the brush bit, but I sell it with our own brush. So now we sell it as a combination. So now, you know, parents don't have to say, Well, I have to go to Walmart to buy this brush, and then go through the brush prep company to get the brush bit now you can get it all at one place.

Okay. It's funny how you mentioned, almost having to teach your customers what the what the product does. And it reminds me, that's what when he saw me grabbed for something early on, I grabbed for post it notes, because when these were first developed, everybody, no one knew what they were what benefit they would provide. Because everyone said, You know what, I could just use a roll of tape, a piece of paper, and it will do the exact same thing. Right? But it doesn't because it's it's that small step of having removable glue, and don't realize how helpful that is. Yeah, you're you start using these 3am in the way, initially for free so that people would realize the benefit. And I'm sure one thing that I love about the story of your your marketing in your product is that a lot of people are thinking now that that like regular door to door retail and in person sales is dead, and everything is online. And maybe in this pandemic, maybe there's a return to online. But you actually that expression wearing out your shoe leather and you know the door to door sales. Tell us about your experience, you actually took your product store to store to demonstrate it and it's kind of seems old fashioned, but that was one of your early breakthroughs.

Yes. So fortunately, but unfortunately, it was right before COVID hit. And I was like one of my main goals was I have to get this in a brick and mortar store. So I started with my own city, I started I started researching, you know, baby stores, boutiques, any store that utilize baby products, and I need to get there. And I went there store to store you know, extra for the owners, the managers, you know, supervisors, whomever, so I can give them my information and show them my product in person. And I went knocking on multiple stores in the streets of Philadelphia, walk in an early park and walk in blocks, you know, from store to store and saying, Hey, I have this product. Okay, well, your owner is not here. Can you please get this to them? Here's my card. Here's my information. And one store in particular, the owners were actually there work in this day. And I said, this is my product. Please take a look at it. Please check it out. Give it a shot. This this is my product, you know, and I am the creator of it, the inventor of it, here's my information, and just kind of explain to what it's about what it does. I was and they were like, Sure, we'll definitely we'll take a look at it and see if it's a good fit for our store. And it worked out in my favor. So we are in a Philadelphia baby stores.

You know, it's terrific because that's sometimes it takes in I think it being physically in a store, it adds credit at one time having a product online added credibility to a physical product that's in the store. But now it's kind of like the reverse like having an actual store. Have an yours even though you have phenomenal videos. And we'll take a quick break right now to Jenny, if you're there and let's let's play the video so we can see a demonstration of the product as well. You're probably wondering which one we've picked, right Betsy because you've got

no idea.

That's great, I mean, we can't or whole staff has seen those videos multiple times. I mean, they're catchy, they demonstrate the product. And there's not a single person I think on Earth that has a baby that's that had a baby that seen the video of the baby chewing on the clips, that doesn't relate to that, like that's for some reason, they're drawn to those clips, like magnets, and they, they chew on them. And I, you know, I don't maybe I'm giving away my age. But those clips, a lot of them used to be made out of metal. And they maybe they still are and they would rust. And obviously they're gonna run because they're constantly getting spit on them. So that's one of your products. And tell us about that. And, of course the problem that it solves.

Yeah, so I also created the only all in one pacifier teaser clip. So just to kind of run back in time, which you're referring to. Previously, pacifier clips were made out of cloth, and actually they still are. And at the end of the cloth, the suspender clip that attaches to the baby's clothing is made out of that metal which rests and sometimes after a while of using them, they will break and then they will no longer attach to the baby's clothing, which defeats the purpose. When you have children or you know, infants, toddlers, who are well attached to their pacifier, that's the importance of those clips is also to keep the pacifier from being on the floor when the baby is, you know, very active and they take it out their mouth and throw it on the floor and then it creates germs, you go into the market and they throw it is on the floor. So this is a good way to keep it attached to the cloth. And so when they just drop it, it stays on their clothes. So pacifier clips has been around for a very long time, you know, and they've always been made out of cloth, and I wanted to do something different. So my son, my youngest child, he was our pacifier baby as I explained before, and our bottle baby and you know, he literally would throw up right after eating all the time. So then his pacifier clip will be drenched and he had the cloth one it was always dirty. I was always soaking in hot water throughout the day while I was home on maternity leave, and I realized when he went back to daycare, okay, he was not going to clean his pacifier clips like I would it will be filled with you know, when he would come home he smell sour. And I'm like, is that his neck? What is it and I realized it was clipped so I would immediately wash it. And then you know, I went to buy multiple ones. So while one is washing and drying, because then you have to dry it. Can't put a wet cloth one on the baby's clothing. I don't have to buy multiple ones. So I said okay, something has to give He started to eat and he will bite on the cloth clip and the the metal suspender clip. And then when he started breaking his teeth, he started coming in. He started chipping away at the paint on the clips, and it was just terrible. So I said, Okay, I have to see if they have anything for you know, pacifier clips as maybe a teether or something to help him with his gums, you know, a different material. I came across the betta clips. But then I realized they were held together by string. So I'm like, Well, how would I clean that string underneath that's going to be filled with bacteria. So I decided to come up with my own, which is the all in one pacifier at the clip grows with the baby to toddlerhood, from infancy to toddlerhood, it doubles as a teenager is made of 100% silicone. So that's to reduce the bacteria, oral thrush and their mouths, especially when COVID hit that's been a major, major, great part about the aspect of it. And also you can change out the suspender clips, which is also another addition that we have that's made out of silicone as well. And it's a teenager as well.

Okay, in especially, I mean, can you imagine like at anytime a pacifier falling on the floor, like You disgusting. But these days with flying in on an airplane, I can't imagine, you know, like worst locations to have the pacifier fall. So that's true, I can definitely relate to the advantages of that. Something that came up in your video is that it's BPA and FDA approved. Yes. Tell us about that process. Because this is not, at least with FDA approval. It's not something that people would intuitively expect, right? Because it's not a medical device. Right? It was a little bit about what prompted you to do that, and about the process itself.

Okay. So, because I wanted to make my products double as a tea there, which ultimately has to go into the mouths of the baby, I wanted to be sure that it was the most healthiest form of a teeth, or that I can, you know, create. So I decided, let's get the FDA approved, because it's going in your mouth. And you know, I definitely want to make sure they all my silicone products are BPA free. And with my manufacturer, they're awesome. All of their products that they make are their silicone manufacturer, by the way, so all their products are BPA free, because they use the best quality of silicone. And then, with the FDA approval, I spoke to my manufacturer, I say, you know, I have to make sure before we actually do mass production, that we get this approved. So she actually took it upon herself to do it for me. So that process was not hard. On my end. She knew all about that she's been in the business for, you know, over 20 years. So getting FDA approval was very familiar to her. And she said, I'll do it for you. So that's how that happened. And I have all the documentation. So that worked out really well.

Great. I think the lesson for inventors is that there, you know, there's a lot of people that have been one tiny aspect of the invention process is their entire life. And they're experts at it. And it makes sense to let them guide you in those areas. And you know, it's hard for an inventor, because you're typically just used to carrying the entire burden on your back because you Korea and you make this thing you do the marketing. But then when you do have experts that are that are specialists that what they do, sometimes it makes sense to to let them lead the way because they've been through it so many times, and especially the FDA approval process is, you know, is a minefield of things that that you have to be wary of. So I think yes, he led you well, there. Thank you. So this product, the physical store nesting, and they have a website as well. So they're even in Mists of COVID. Are they open now? They're still?

Yes. So they used to have two locations and Philadelphia, but when COVID struck, unfortunately, they lost one of their locations. But fortunately, they still retain one of their locations. So they are still up and running and our products are still within their store.

Okay, well, interesting. You know, you have, like necessity is the mother of invention. And your youngest is this idea that you have 12 year old and an eight year old as well. Right? Yes. Have they played any role in do they get do you involve them in it in the product or in the business at all? Oh,

eight year old he's. He's not really too interested in the business or products. But my 12 year old, she's my oldest and she's a female so she's really involved and design everything. So I go to her like, what do you think about this? Do you think this will be a good idea? How do you feel about that? And because she's very helpful with her younger siblings, she's more she's very hands on. So she has that maternal instinct. So when I came up with the pacifier clip, she was like, Mom, that's amazing. Because, yeah, his stuff is always like dirty and nasty. She was like, I think that'd be a great idea. And then when I came up with the design, she was like, Yes, that's good. Add this, take that away. And she's the artist herself. So it was perfect. And then once we had the samples, and they test it out, they like, Oh, this is strong. I like this. And so they are definitely my biggest critics. So especially my 12 year old, she's my biggest critic, she will tell me the truth, rather err hurts or not. She's like, No, I don't think so. Or she'll give me a thumbs up.

Kids are brutally honest. Sometimes they say with me having done work with inventors, for 25 years, I found that a lot of times friends and family can either be huge supporters and help inventors in achieving their goals. Or a lot of times, they actually end up becoming obstacles, because they're so fixated on the way things have always been done. And as you say, Well, I've never needed a bit before for for this problem, and why do you need it now? What what end of the spectrum? Did you find your closest friends and relatives? Or did you find them in almost two camps that are either gung ho and onboard with you? Or they're, they think you went off the deep end when you started?

I had a mixture. Family, definitely supportive. Mostly family were very supportive. They like oh, okay, this is different, you know, you're a social worker, but you're now the inventor. And you're, you know, you're an entrepreneur at the same time like this is, we've never seen this coming for you. But you know, go for it. And then I've had some really, really close friends that's like, go for it. This is amazing. This is great, you know. And then I've had some other friends and relatives who are solid, completely solid, you know, they don't speak about it at all, they don't ask about the products or the quote, will question it. And you know, they do not purchase. And that's fine. Because I truly believe that there will be those who true either really love your product, like your product, or don't care for it at all. And that's just fine. Because everyone has a right to their opinion, to you know, everything. I mean, when the Snuggie first came out, I was like, Who would buy that? That's literally a blanket with arms, you know, I can wear a row, or I could just put a blanket around me, why would I buy a Snuggie. But then, you know, the Snuggie makes millions plus, you know, many people purchase that because that's what they like, but that may not be for me. So I am okay with knowing that my products may not be for everybody, it will not be for everybody. And that's just the truth of the matter, does not mean that they do not support me. It's just that they may not agree with the product, which is fine.

Interesting, I've had some inventors in the past who've told me that you know what, quitting was never an option. And I was gonna go through this no matter what. And then there's inventors. In fact, I think last month we I can't remember the product, but she actually did quit and put it aside six months. And then it just kept, you know, like ideas don't die. They're like you try to suffocate them. But if it's a real need, especially during this pandemic, she picked it up again so six month hiatus Was there ever a point where you were going to during when the obstacles got tough that you're going to throw in the towel and say you know what, forget it I'm this is never going to make it to market or when the 100 stores slammed their doors and said get don't get out of here or whatever the owners aren't here we're not interested.

Um, I never had the sense of quitting. To be honest. I've had I've had some days that I've cried I've had some days that I've been upset, irritated, aggravated frustrated. All of the above I've had days that set you know about ever getting to retail Will I ever, you know, make you know, X amount of money in sales. Would anybody ever think this is going to be incredible? Am I going down the wrong path? Should I create more things should I not should I because I have a list of things that you know, products that I want to bring to market. But I know that you know, it's a process and you can't just say hey, You got 100 things that I'm gonna fit in at once No. Even though you feel like that because once you're like on that and fit and spray, you just feel like you can't stop. But what I did was because my like I said in the beginning, my brush bibs, I was selling them individually, and they were not selling as quickly as our pacifier clips and elephant suspender clips they, I mean, our pacifier clips within the first month, we had like 25,000 cells. That was amazing. My brush bibs never sold at that, that capacity. So part of me was like, should I quit on my breakfast? I'm like, No, don't quit on your brush. Because because, you know, they're amazing. So what I did was, is that I just did, you know, repackaging I was like, you know, what soap is the brush, everyone needs a brush to clean air bottles, you know, solid brush, and then people will start getting it, they'll get two for one. So given up, I never gave up on my products. Like I said, it may have been a question like us does not really whatever but never given up. Never took a hiatus never took a two week, one week, one day hiatus. I work on my business all day, every day, every day. All days of the week, I work on my business after you know, my full time job is I'm back on it and late nights and long weekends.

So COVID didn't set you didn't stop you either.

No. Even though we were new and marketing, my biggest marketing was to go to expos. But that all took a pause when COVID-19 hit. I stood at the start. I was like, I have to find a way I have to figure this out. And so I've never stopped.

Wow. So basically, you're you're such an inspiration. I'm going to have to have you come back because we've promised everyone a half hour interview. But just before we ask you for like if you had one piece of advice this to give to any inventors that are early on in the process right now, what would you tell them

to piggyback off of our last our last sentence, do not quit? Never stop, keep going. It's gonna be hard. You're gonna have rough days, we all have days that you cry days that you question your product, you question yourself you question and my way above, you know what I should be doing? Am I just my expectations too high? No. Fight and push through. Keep going, don't stop.

Well. So to paraphrase a well known song, Bessie said there'll be days like this, like this. Out there, when it gets tough when you get the 100 doors slammed on you, when a good friend tells you that you're nuts for a job. When any of these things happen. Just remember, like that's there isn't it's a success story anywhere that I've been looking at, you know, whether it's Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs, anyone that has not had people turn to them and say, you know, what in the world are you doing that you're nuts. So you have to be strong enough to withstand that. And if you believe in your product, and especially if necessity is the mother of invention, if there's a need that, you know, very likely that others are facing that problem as well. In the first person to express it is you know, they just opened up a whole world of opportunity for everyone else when Lakeland 3pm You know with the post it note now you can't live without him if he's ran out in our office said you know what, just go back to tape and pieces of papers like no way. We're going to make them ourselves. We have to but we need the posted. So I'm gonna wish you a Happy Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. Until next time, because someone like you we definitely need again. Thank you.

Thank you. I appreciate you. Okay.

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