Female Founder Feature: Carol Brunswick – Belly Bands and Heal Better

In 2016, Queensland mother of two Carol Brunswick designed the multi award winning Belly Band. After speaking with her customers and medical professionals, she designed an adaptable, flexible support belt that assists mothers through pregnancy, postpartum and surgical recovery. Importantly, Carol wanted to make sure the Belly Band was made in Australia, and she now employs ten local Queensland women to make the Belly Bands.

 

In addition, last year Carol launched a sister brand called Heal Better, created to close the gap between hospital and home for those recovering for any type of abdominal surgery.

 

Belly Bands is a small family run business manufacturing maternity and post-surgical abdominal compression garments on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. With thousands of 5-star reviews from happy customers, Belly Bands has established a position as a caring company that designs products that assists a wide range of people. The wide Belly Bands and Heal Better ranges are sold direct to customers on our websites and via health specialists throughout Australia. 

 

How did you come to start Belly Bands?

With personal circumstances leading me to give up my career as a computer networking engineer, I needed to find a job that would allow me to work from home while looking after my two children.

After researching available opportunities, I saw a gap in the Australian market for maternity compression garments. Initially the Belly Bands were imported from overseas. I established an online store which I was able to run from my home on the Sunshine Coast.

 

In 2015 your company was on the brink of collapse, what events changed this?

As I imported the maternity compression garments from overseas, I was faced with constant issues, such as poor quality, sizing and the actual design not being adequate to function for a long period of time. This made it difficult to build a good reputation and although I put in endless hours, I ended up finding myself with a personal loss of over $300,000, and the decision to shut down the business became the only choice.

 

However, after deciding to close I still received calls from individuals who were requiring support, especially after surgery, so would sew up a design that I believed would work for them. I didn’t charge for these as they were not professionally made.

 

Word soon spread and it was clear there was still a gap in the market for these types of products but this time, I completed a thorough market research project to design a Belly Band that was uniquely designed to be adjusted throughout pregnancy and be useful to women post pregnancy. Importantly, I wanted this product to be made here in Australia so I could maintain the highest quality and support employing people here on the Sunshine Coast.

 

 

You recently created a Heal Better Kit and Heal Better App, was this a natural progression for your business?

The unique design of the Belly Band made it ideal as a post-surgical girdle. It organically grew in this area for both women and men’s health for procedures such as c-section section, hysterectomy, hernia repair.  But what I found was most customers were searching for products to help with the pain and recovery after their surgery, when in pain and trying to find some information on recovery products.

 

It felt like a natural progression to create the Heal Better brand, which consists of a range of post-op recovery products. In addition, I developed the world’s first ever post-surgery recovery guide app that can be downloaded for free on any mobile device.

 

 

What is a piece of advice you wish you had been told before starting your entrepreneurial journey?

Decisions based on financial outlay should not be made unless you have talked it over with others for feedback.

 

Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

I see myself taking an advisory and educational role for both my brands – Belly Bands and Heal Better.  I would like Belly Bands to become an internationally recognised maternity brand for mothers.  For the Heal Better brand, I would like to be adopted as part of the post op recovery plan by hospitals and health specialists for all abdominal surgery patients in Australia and Internationally.

 

What has been the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?

Trying to do everything myself!

 

The business was able to start growing when I decided to step away from the daily tasks of running the businesses and better able to concentrate on growing the business to its full potential.

 

How do you personally measure success?

I measure success by feeling like every day we are making a small but significant difference in our customers lives and putting people before profits by creating local Australian jobs.

 

Who are the people around you that allow you to thrive and give support?

I have an excellent team around me that genuinely believe in what we do. But in particular our General Manager Sandie Brunswick and our Corporate Sales Manager Mike Allsop, are huge contributors to making the business thrive, but also provide so much personal support which is invaluable and keeps me grounded and focused on the big picture.

 

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