two envelopes, one black and one hot pink, a strap saver glued to a card and a satin package with the text change can be good

Check Out the Size Of Our Package!

NewPackaging Check Out the Size Of Our Package!Things are always evolving in the Strap Saver Think Tank – we’re always trying to improve our product and our process. Today, it’s all about what the product looks like when it arrives in your mailbox.

It started with rogue Strap Savers. Yes, these are tiny parts and it’s easy to forget to slip one in an envelope or to have one go astray when open the package. To combat this, instead of just popping them inside of our signature pink bags and sending them on our way, we are now securely attaching them to cards sealed inside of plastic bags.  Now the packager and the customer can double-check that their order is complete. If there are any discrepancies, we can fix them ASAP!1

Once we attached them to cards, the entire package was much flatter, which made me wonder if we could use paper envelopes instead of bubble mailers. The bubble mailers are pretty, but it’s so much plastic. It felt icky for mother earth and since our new packaging added a layer of plastic around the card, I had hoped that we could do better.

Ask the internet and ye shall receive! (this time, anyway…) We found these beautiful #7 coin envelopes in 80 lb paper that come in sexy black, just like our bubble mailers.  Even though the new envelopes are much smaller (6.5” X 3.5”), compared to the bubble mailers (7.5” X 5”), they still fit up to 3 pairs of Strap Savers. Overall, it feels like a win-win-win! (us, the customers and the environment!) Don’t worry – each package still comes with our hand silk-screened pink bags for Strap Saver storage. After all, this started because these things are easy to lose!

I was nervous when we realized we’d have to make these changes.  I was concerned that it would take a long time to figure out, that it would cost a lot of money and/or that I would be unhappy with how the solution looked to the customer. Overall, it took us a few weeks and I think we have something even better at a comparable price. One more obstacle conquered on the road to success!

1Our Return Policy is the same. Customers can always exchange their Strap Savers for any size/color/strength if they have ordered incorrectly, or return the product for a full refund – minus any additional shipping – within 30 days – if they aren’t 100% satisfied

two stainless steel strap savers, perfect because it's strong, and safe for sensitive skin

What’s the Deal with Stainless Steel?

stainless1 What's the Deal with Stainless Steel?We had many choices when it came to materials for The Strap Saver. There are a plethora of metals and plastics at several different price-points. Our options felt endless but our goals were clear.  We wanted our product to be:

  • strong (after all, boobs are heavy!)
  • for everyone, even customers with sensitive skin.
  • made of something that would hold up to sweat, salt water and chlorine. (we’re active people and we need a product to keep up with us!)

When our smart engineers explained the benefits of stainless steel, it became the obvious choice. It’s light, strong, resistant to corrosion and plentiful. It was not, however, the cheapest but building the best product possible was the more important. We chose the most popular type – 304. It is also known as 18/8, which is imprinted on the back of most silverware.

For the science nerds, stainless steel usually contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It’s the chromium (mostly) that keeps it from rusting. (that’s the short answer, for more information, here’s the long answer.) For the history geeks, stainless steel has been around in some form since the early 1800s. (for the record, I’m all nerd and geek…)

It’s the perfect material because it helps us to build a quality product. We hate that so much that so much that we buy is disposable. Stainless steel will outlast several bras and bathing suits.1 The Strap Saver should not wear-out or be affected by sweat, the ocean, or the pool.

Bring out your shineAlthough it does contain some nickel, all stainless steel is classified as hypoallergenic.  The process of making it involves chemically binding the nickel so tightly that it cannot leach out.  Customers with sensitive skin should feel comfortable giving us a try.  (If there are any issues, we do have a 30-day money-back guarantee)

Stainless steel can also be beautiful and shiny (see: top of the Chrysler building) in addition to strong. We think it’s a great symbol for those of us behind The Strap Saver and those of you that use it.  (minus the susceptibility to fingerprints!)

 

1We cannot guarantee it against if they are misplaced, which is probably the #1 reason they’d need to be replaced.  Strap Savers are small.  The best we can do is offer those pretty pink bags to keep track of them!

A bookshelf shaped like a tree with the text putting the books in order

Tax That!

Tax That!It was almost exactly one year ago that I admitted that I had some major problems keeping the books for The Strap Saver. It involved a lot of procrastination and then frustration at tax time. I made a pledge to do better for 2016 and I did… mostly. I have just reconciled everything through 2/28/17 and we’re set up for a good year. (our YTD growth is in the triple digits! Yay!)

As promised, I did spend my time entering sales during the year – because those are the most exciting. (Woo hoo!) Unfortunately, it’s an arduous process. Our accounting software is complicated and doesn’t play nice with the companies that we use to take payments. I have to enter each sale and deposit manually. It would make my head hurt every time I had to think about sitting down at the computer to make my way through the work. (note: past tense!)

Once January rolled around again, I knew it was time to prepare for my annual appointment. I was much further along than last year, (which really isn’t all that impressive, when I think about what a mess that was) but it still took a while to catch up. I knew there had to be a better way (besides hiring a professional, of course).  Surely, with my vague memory of college accounting classes, I could figure one out.

It took about 8 hours of sweat, starts, wait – that won’t work, backtracking, and chocolate but I did it! I came up with a process to simplify our entries. What might have taken 4-6 hours would only take an hour. What! Of course, my tax accountant hasn’t seen this yet. (The numbers all work out to be the same, I swear.) I had the chance to put it into practice today for February and it was a breeze. I had the sales and expenses entered in a fraction of the time. (and, did I mention that we are growing?)

I did keep last year’s pledge to do better, but it still cost me a lot of hours in the last few weeks. (including missing a few really nice days cooped up in this office) This year’s pledge is to stay up-to-date. Next March I hope to only need to export our company file and send it through cyberspace to the bean counters. For now, I’ll celebrate my current success and mark my calendar with reminders for my new and unbreakable monthly date with the books.

Also – can you believe that I’ve gotten two blog entries out of tax time so far – and am setting up for a third, and this a website about a bra accessory?  And you’re reading it?  Now THAT is talent!

The Other Strap Saver

The Other Strap Saver

.The Other Strap Saver - a school projectLast week while Beth and I were at Made in Monmouth, I received a media email alert based on “Strap Saver”. My first thought was “Wow, who’s writing about us now?”. After a glance, my mind quickly changed to “oh no… what’s THIS?” The link led me to a twitter account @strapsaver_ with a logo that included a bra and a tweet saying “Fix your life, one strap at a time.” The product was for retrieving rogue bra straps.

I spent the next 15 minutes chewing my bottom lip and wondering what to do about it. Was someone using our product name? Didn’t they look these things up? Would I need a cease and desist? If so, how was I going to manage THAT?

To say I’m protective of this company is an understatement. I’ve worked hard to build what we have.  I know I’ve taken the right measures to keep it safe, but not everything is within my control. Earlier this year, I was concerned about competition from a 3M product called the “Hold Tight Strap Clip.” Despite our trademark and provisional patent, I worried about the same potential problem – would I have to protect against someone undermining our brand? (in this case, it was more trademark than patent)

I decided to read the tweet again for insights – the hashtag was #echsinnovationexpo and the other Twitter account mentioned was for a Mrs. Something-or-Other. Slowly, the gears in my brain started turning again. It’s a high school. The Mrs. is their teacher. This product is not being produced. I think. Ok. Phew. Back to Made in Monmouth. Let’s sell some Strap Savers!

I went home that night and talked about it with Marc. We had a quick laugh over my tendency to jump to conclusions and tried to figure out what to do next. One part of owning a trademark is using it in business and another is defending it. If there was evidence that I knew about this and let it go, it wouldn’t look good for me if there was a future problem – even if this was just a high school project.

I decided to follow them on Twitter and headed to their website to contact them. I wrote to them (what I hoped was) a very nice note saying that I thought their product idea was cute but explained about ownership of the trademark to The Strap Saver. It was not a problem if this was for a class project, but if they were going to sell it, they would need to change the name. I even tossed in about needing to defend the trademark so that hopefully I didn’t sound like a crazy adult going after a school project. (file this under “things I’d never thought I’d have to do as a business owner”)

I heard back from them right away – explaining that yes, this is just a project and no, they didn’t have plans to produce it. My favorite was the closing line: “We’re all just a bunch of 14 year olds just trying to get by.” All I could think was “I hear you!”

The interaction did lead to something helpful for them. They needed an expert in the field to answer some questions. So far, no one had gotten back to them! I gave them some answers about their project and my thoughts on existing solutions to slipping straps.

While my reaction to the situation still makes me smile, I’m very impressed with these young women.  They put together a great website and a very funny video. The branding is clear and the logo is cute – which I think was their goal. I think it’s important that teachers are having students do this type of work while they are still in high school. (also – maybe include a section on researching intellectual property?) Young adults will start to understand the process of developing their own ideas into viable products. This could have been Beth or I a *cough* few *cough* years ago, if we had all of the opportunities of the internet at that age.

Their project is due today.  I hope they get an A.

The New easier-to-use Strap Saver shopping Cart

Buyer Be Aware: New Shopping Experience Ahead

AlssssThe New easier-to-use Strap Saver shopping CartHave you ever had something that you really didn’t like, but since it worked and you didn’t have the funds to fix it, you just lived with it? Well, guess what?! Our time has finally come! We pulled up the equivalent of our 70’s combo of burnt orange, avocado green, harvest gold and brown shag carpet* and put in some sleek new hardwood floors on our website. The real stuff too, not just a picture of wood!

Behold!  Our new shopping cart!

After months of a lousy interface, rounding errors, gift certificate glitches**, we now have a beautiful shopping and checkout experience.

The updated features include:

  • Choose a Strap Saver in 3 easy options: color, length, and strength
  • Pay directly with credit card (via secure connection) OR use PayPal
  • Create an account for faster checkout and to track order status
  • Order $10, $15 or $25 gift certificates easily
  • Choose your shipping option and see your final total before checkout
  • Prettier, easier-to-use interface

Could saving your straps with The Strap Saver be any easier?

We’ve also updated the FAQ to reflect the more commonly asked questions. We created sections so that answers are easier to find. We even added links to specific videos on the Viral Videos page, depending if you are looking for the Single or Double Strap Saver solution.  (no more of that pesky scrolling!) As always, if you can’t find an answer, please feel free to contact us.

Beth and I are very excited by our new look and want to thank those that helped us – Jena, Teri, Tiffany, Marc, the folks at WPEasyCart and last, but never least, the developer, Robert. His magic is taking Beth’s complicated designs and my wish list and turning it into a flawless, functioning site. It’s been a long time coming but we’re so happy with the results.

We’re not saying that shag carpet (or macramé wall decorations or plaid furniture) doesn’t have it’s place. It’s just not for us, not on our site.  Our customers deserve sleek and simple solutions, just like our product.

*you make think this is a silly reference, but I had this exact carpet in my bedroom as a child. I kept a piece of it – it’s in a box, somewhere.  If I ever find it, I will share a photo with you. It has to be seen to be believed.  (kind of like the bridesmaid dress)

**a customer could enter ANY series of characters into the gift certificate field – including boobies, courtesy of Marc, and get Strap Savers for as little as $1.  It doesn’t work now, so don’t bother trying :)

Don't let fear lead to procrastination

Stop Blocking the Writer

Don't let fear lead to procrastinationIf you’ve had too much time on your hands or you’re related to me in some way, you’ve noticed that I haven’t updated the blog much in the past 6 weeks. I’ve been taking my own advice and finding balance. I’ve been going for walks, trying not to take on too much, or push myself too hard. Starting a new job and the business aspects of The Strap Saver have been keeping me very busy!

The update: We’re reordering again. (so, re-reordering?) We are running an awesome contest with Elisabeth Dale of The Breast Life. It’s not too late to enter to win one of 3 prize packages of a signed copy of The Bra Zone and a $25 gift certificate of The Strap Saver. We’ve also made some updates to the site and we’re promoting our relationship with Jill’s Wish*. Saving straps is fun; helping others is even better.

So despite following all of my own best advice, I’m still leaving the less tangible, more fun, creative endeavors until last. (oh no, I can’t live without my sarcasm outlet!) My fear of writer’s block has me focusing my time on tasks that will bring about concrete results. What if I get stumped? You know, because I often lack for things to say… (<- yay!  Sarcasm is back!) What if I can’t make the SEO work? Blogs are great and help to relay our message, but they are also about helping our search engine results. What if in the 2 hours it takes me to optimize 600 words, I could have done 5 other things?

Well, all of that fear has gotten me a whole lot of nowhere. Writing is like any other activity. It takes practice to stay sharp. By avoiding the blog in favor of inventory, working on the books, or networking, it’s taking me a few extra weeks to get started again. There’s a long list of topics in my notebook, so it’s just a specific fear of the process.

As I think I’ve said before, awareness is the first step to change. It’s OK to prioritize, but if something needs to get done, sometimes it’s best to channel Nike. There’s only one way to complete a task!  (well, two, but we’re not in a situation to hire a ghostwriter) Putting it off will only make the task bigger. Hopefully I can continue to heed my own advice and let momentum carry me through the tough spots.

Now doesn’t this make you excited to come back to Strap Central every week from now on? I’ve got lots of pent-up sarcasm to dispense and ideas to share! (and we’re not even going to talk about politics!) See you soon!

*As of 11/30/2017, 5% of all sales are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Woman balancing her arm to show the strength of The Extra-Strength Strap Saver, As powerful as you are

The Extra-Strength Strap Saver

Woman balancing her arm to show the strength of The Extra-Strength Strap Saver, As powerful as you are

Editor’s note: The Extra-Strength Strap Saver is now available in 3/4″ and 1″ in all 3 colors: Black, Tan and Metallic! Run, don’t walk, to buy yours right now!

Once upon a time we had a wonderful customer – we’ll call her Andrea – that emailed us and said “my Strap Savers bent – is that supposed to happen?”.  Wait, WHAT?  They aren’t supposed to bend! She was very kind and described her situation and we let her know – quite clearly – that is not how they work.  We were determined to get to the bottom of the situation and make it right for her.

Andrea was very helpful – first sending us photos and then returning the product.  We sent her another set with the same result.  Thanks to the laws of physics, it turns out that our ¾” and 1” Strap Savers can only take so much force and hold a finite amount of weight.  As making our customers happy is our number #1 priority – they’re the boss – we went back to the labs to solve this new problem.

Thanks to the help of our engineers, we developed The Extra-Strength Strap Saver – and had it tested. The regular ¾” Strap Saver will only hold about 3lbs of weight, so we’re only recommending for regular bras and bathing suits up to a size 40DD, tank tops and light dresses. (Your mileage may vary, boob weight is not an exact science!) The ¾” Extra-Strength Strap Saver will hold up to 10lbs of weight and we think it will work best on regular bras and bathing suits size 40DDD and larger, sports bras and heavy dresses.  If you’re having problems with your regular Strap Saver, let us know and we’ll exchange it for the new Extra-Strength Strap Saver.

We sent Andrea the very first pair of Extra-Strength Strap Savers to try, after all, she’d earned it by being so helpful. We were delighted to get her response:

“I just wanted to let you know that I wore the new Strap Savers the other day and I was SO impressed! They didn’t budge – stayed in place and didn’t bend AT ALL!!   Yaaaay!  So happy with them!“

Now that they’ve been field tested, we’re excited to offer Extra-Strength Strap Savers in ¾” and 1” to you in Metallic (more colors coming soon!) at the same price as regular Strap Savers – $15 for the first pair, $10 for each additional pair – feel free to mix and match – with free standard shipping in the US and just $2 additional to anywhere else in the world.  (Don’t forget, 5% of all sales go to Jill’s Wish!)*

To recap:

Regular Strap Savers: bras & bathing suits up to a size 40DD, tank tops & light dresses
Extra-Strength Strap Savers: bras & bathing suits size 40DDD & larger, sports bras & heavy dresses

Buy yours today!

Who doesn’t love a story with a happy ending?

 

*As of 11/30/2017, 5% of all sales go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The Strap Saver and Jill's Wish Join Forces

We Got Hitched!

The Strap Saver and Jill's Wish Join Forces

EDIT: As of 11/30/2017, 5% of all sales will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

We’re very proud to announce a new partnership and the fulfillment of a goal for us: 5% of all sales will be donated to The Jill’s Wish Foundation. Jill’s Wish helps women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment (either newly diagnosed or terminal) to pay their household bills. Each fulfilled “wish” is a grant of up to $1500 for household bills and living expenses.

We all know someone who has been touched by this disease and how awful it can be – I cannot imagine having to worry about paying rent and utilities in addition to coordinating doctors visits and combating the side effects of treatment. Jill’s Wish looks to help alleviate that burden.

A little history – Jill’s Wish was founded by Jill and Bart Conelly in 2013. Jill was diagnosed with Stage IIIB breast cancer at age 31 and the Conellys had their own financial struggles during her treatment. They started Jill’s Wish to provide assistance to others so that they would not face the same problems at such a difficult time. Instead, this time should be about focusing on being with family, friends, treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, Jill passed away earlier this year and we never had the opportunity to meet her but we want to help her mission live on.

One of the original reasons we started The Strap Saver was to give back. As many of you know, I have a family history of breast cancer, but none of my relatives had to worry about a roof over their head or food on the table as they fought valiantly against this awful disease. I’ve always considered us lucky that we were able to concentrate on more important things.

I’ve been looking for a partner for us for a while and hadn’t found a good fit.  I was inspired to look into Jill’s Wish after reading Dana Donofree’s tribute to Jill in February. We met Dana, of AnaOno Intimates, a few months ago and some of the story felt familiar. I also reached out to Dana because I saw her on the Today Show, although it only took one email to get a response – and she invited Beth and myself into her studio. We had a wonderful afternoon and we left feeling inspired. Dana had been through treatment that had changed her body chemistry forever and she was still moving forward with energy, grace and success. She was honest and open with us and it was refreshing in a world where everyone likes to pretend things are perfect. (except me, of course, as you can tell by reading this blog.)  Authenticity is rare and beautiful – and it poured off of Dana in waves.

As for why we chose Jill’s Wish – it’s their mission and their method. So much attention is paid to treatment but less to what happens after the women leave the hospital. We think this is an under-served area and probably causes more stress and setbacks than we’ll ever understand.

Even though I trust Dana, I did my own research. I have a responsibility to you – our customer! Charities can be fishy business (we’ve all read about The Wounded Warrior Project) and I wanted to make sure that our money was going to the right place. The requirements for a grant are strict to ensure that they go to those that need it the most. The charity also pays the money directly to the housing lender, utility company/etc so that they know it’s serving the intended purpose.

Business can also be shady when it comes to charitable giving – with unpublicized caps (up to $10,000 and they run the promotion long after they’ve reached their maximum) or offering a percentage of the profits and profits never materialize. We’re going to give 5% of sales. So if you buy a $15 Strap Saver, we’ll donate $.75. If you buy 2 for $25, we’ll donate $1.25. If you buy 100, we’ll donate $50.25. So, buy 100! It’s for a good cause! There’s no limit and no number games. If you have any more questions, just ask. We are going to be completely transparent about this.

If you’re inclined to give more, head over to their website and donate directly or grab one of those awesome Rock What You Got tees (Jill’s favorite saying – I so need one of these). If you shop Amazon, you can contribute a percentage of your purchases without changing your experience by using their Amazon Smile page. We’ll have some updates on Jill’s Wish and all of the good things that they’ll do in the coming year – thank you for supporting us so that we can support them.

We hope that you approve of our choice – let us know!

The blog will be right back!

Spring Break!

The blog will be right back!Photo Credit: Phil Levy

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you know I’ve been busy getting ready for tax season (which are done, YAY!) and with our annual Valentine’s Day sale.  Beth and I have also been working hard on plans for the next few months.  We have some big things coming up – we’re launching a new product, implementing website updates, and a partnership that’s going to help us with our mission to give back.  We’ll even have some spring cleaning advice.  Stay tuned…  more details soon!  So, for this week, we’re going to kick back and take a spring break of our own.  The blog will be back next week.  Until then, we hope you will have some March madness yourself – on a beach, with a basketball, or with a bubble bath – whatever makes you happy.  Summer is almost here!

Finances can be... taxing!

Finances can be…. taxing!

Finances can be... taxing!Procrastination is not your friend.  Well, it’s not for me to judge for you. I can clearly say that procrastination is not my friend.  Very few good things come from it – although we all have that exception story.  (you know, that time that you didn’t do something and then it turns out that you didn’t need to! Hurrah!)  It’s not my usual style, but trust me, don’t buy into the hype.  Especially for something as important as taxes.

Yup, it’s that time of the year in the United States and across all 50 states (+ 5 major territories and minor outlying islands) everyone is scrambling to get their papers in order.  I have been no exception.  I’ve had my own production company for years, so I’m used to keeping accurate books but I’ve never managed inventory before.  It is a whole different monster.  Much like our trademark, I insist on doing these things myself, as we’re a relatively new company and trying to reinvest every dollar that we can.

So, after a lot sweat, I’m happy to say that our books are up to date!  I refuse to guess how much less time it would have taken an expert.  Although we opened the online store in November, 2014, most of our business was done during 2015.  If I’d kept up with it, it would have been nothing more than exporting a file to my accountant.  Note to self: KEEP UP WITH IT! I have to throw in that I was so busy building the business, interacting with customers and working on new ideas that this fell to the bottom of the priorities list.

On a more positive note, my accounting software and I are now BFFs, having spent the last few days together.  I’m now current on everything involved with the business, not just the marketing and customer outreach.  Should Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank come calling, he won’t be able to accuse me of not knowing my numbers!

I pledge to do better for next year.  I will not cause myself this kind of stress again.  I promise to report back and let you know.

Oh, the joys of growing a business!