Tuesday, September 14, 2010

{NEW} Getting to know BRUZ WEAR!

I was elated when Ambajam introduced me to Kathryn Ames of Bruz Wear!  

I was so intrigued by her story and how her passion to support 
her son spurred her on to create and begin Bruz Wear.  

We had a chance to chat and here is what she shared with me…

Lisa - I was so touched after reading your inspiration to start Bruz Wear. Would you like share your story?  
Kathryn - Basically I decided to develop these little pants to solve a problem for my son. When Nicholas was crawling he had terrible bruises that were very painful. Nicholas has a severe bleeding disorder called Hemophilia. Crawling was one of the first developmental milestones that seemed to be an issue for him. He did not want to move and we did not want him to stop. I looked all over for knee pads and pants with knee pads but nothing seemed to work very well or look very cool and the market was extremely limited. I was so inspired by the history of this community that I decided I needed to move on my idea of pants with padded knees. From the onset my goal has been to develop a top quality product, grow a sustainable business, and be an advocate for the bleeding disorder community. 

L - Tell us a little bit about the cause you support.  
K - My son Nicholas has Severe Hemophilia A, which means he is deficient one of the 12 clotting factors in the blood. He was diagnosed after his circumcision, the day after he was born. He bled for 18 hours before they were able to confirm this diagnosis. Hemophilia is very rare. Nicholas is 1 in 20,000. The community has an incredibly sad history (see this page for details: 
http://www.hemophilia.org/NHFWeb/MainPgs/MainNHF.aspx?menuid=178&contentid=6&rptname=bleeding). Not that long ago, in the 1980's, people were treated with fresh frozen plasma which later was found to be contaminated by HIV/AIDS. Approximately half of the people with hemophilia in the U.S. became HIV-infected and thousands died. We never would have known about this if our son hadn't been diagnosed. We feel so lucky for the treatment available today for Nicholas. There are still people suffering around the world who do not have the access to the treatment that we have in the US. Children in other countries are suffering from joint disease, arthritis, joint replacement, disability and even death as a result of limited treatment and medication. Some of the problems we face in the US include the cost to treat and the limitations with insurance. We have come a long way but there are still many hurdles to overcome. 

L - How did you take your ideas for Bruz Wear and turn them into a business?  
K - I have to say it took me some time. I had no prior business background or knowledge so I was learning and consulting every step of the way. First I did a lot of research on just starting a business. From there the focus was on product development. This step, I have learned, is really on-going and will continue to change if you want to keep up with trends and keep making your product the best it can be. Once you get your product going, time is spent on marketing, selling, growing, and cutting costs.

L - We know Bruz Wear was created for a unique reason.  Are there any other benefits for children wearing Bruz Wear?  
K - Bruz Wear makes no medical promises. At a very basic level we hope our pants provide comfort and style. We have however had many, many comments on how these little pants have helped with bruising and have given both children and parents courage in situations that they might otherwise not be comfortable with. I had a mom call me the other day when she allowed her two sons with hemophilia to roller skate for the first time but only with their Bruz Wear pants on. She was so grateful they they could be out there looking cool but with a little extra support. It made my day for sure!

L - What challenges have you faced since starting Bruz Wear?  
K - For me one of the greatest challenges is limited time and resources. I know we have an awesome product and a loyal following, the challenge is just figuring out how to grow that population. I am a mom of 3 beautiful kiddos and they come first so the amount of time I actually have to work on my business is about 2-3 hours a day! I guess when you do the math, what I have been able to do in the last 4 years IS pretty great. I know as my kids get older, I will have more time to grow my company so in the meantime I am trying to just enjoy where we are. Another challenge we face as a small business is competing with all the other clothing companies who manufacture overseas. I love being a US based company but keeping our costs down is a real challenge. 

L - You are an active member of the Hemophilia Society of Colorado (HSC) AND chair for your fundraiser, Black and Blue!  How do you manage to bring balance your life, professionally and personally?  
K - Balance is an ongoing challenge. Some days I get more done than others. When you have a lot on your plate you learn to take advantage of every little moment you can. Chairing Black and Blue for two years in a row took a lot of my time but it was worth the commitment because I know I was helping my son. I am a board member and an active member of the HSC because it's important to me, my family, and so many other families. People with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders really need a supportive community because it is so rare. It's also very challenging personally, emotionally, physically, and financially. For all those reasons, I do what I do. Admittedly I have to get better at saying "no" but I will do what I can, while I can, and always do my best!

L - You seem to be set on a great course already...but what else is next for Bruz Wear?  
K - I want to continue to grow our fan base, increase web sales, and pursue more wholesale accounts. I would love for Bruz Wear to become a known brand for active kids everywhere. I also want to pursue partnering with other companies who would be interested in purchasing Bruz Wear pants for kids who really need them. Recently a few organizations in the bleeding disorder community purchased pants in bulk (at a significant discount) so they could then give them to families for free. I love this model and would love to be able to do this more around the country and the world. 


Amazing things are happening for Bruz Wear these days!  Recently Kathryn was selected by Scout Masterson and Bill Horn as their first MOMpreneur to be featured on the Daily Guncle!  Visit the Guncles Online to see more! 

Visit Bruz Wear at http://www.bruzwear.com/
follow on Twitter @BruzWear



1 comment:

  1. Great interview!! I love hearing such amazing stories like this!