A Bergen Beach woman is nursing her small business into an empire.
Her company, Me Beau Bébé, sells breast-feeding blankets with a discrete mesh window at the top that lets moms nurse with modesty while maintaining eye-contact with their children. The inventor said she got the idea when her family came to celebrate her son’s birth and she kept having to leave the party to feed the boy.
“I thought, ‘why can’t I have fun while at the same time being a mom?’ ” said Miosotis Melucci, the blanket’s creator.
The mesh window lets women keep an eye on their infants while allowing them to feed discretely, Melucci said. The matronly mantles prevent the all-too-common embarrassment of dropping a conventional nursing blanket in the midst of feeding, which often occurs when moms have to fuss with other blankets to see what their babies are doing underneath.
Being a business owner is a new experience for Melucci, who came to New York City from the Dominican Republic when she was a teenager, but she’s getting a schooling on businesses with help from the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Center, which helps entrepreneurs develop ideas into marketable products. The advice she got was invaluable, she said.
Days before finalizing a production order with an overseas manufacturer in 2012, Melucci brought a prototype to the center for evaluation, said her mentor, Daniel McQuade. He convinced her to hold off n the order and show the blanket to focus groups at baby stores first — a move that saved the novice entrepreneur from an expensive mistake.
“Although everybody loved the idea, they hated the product,” McQuade said.
Melucci found that stores wanted products made with organic materials that were manufactured close to home, so she changed her product specs and producer. Me Beau Bébé’s blankets are now made at a factory in Manhattan from organic cotton grown in California.
Her Brooklyn-based company now employs five people and provides work for another 10 at the Manhattan factory, Melucci said.
The skylight-equipped nursing blankets retail for $79, and Melucci’s first Amazon.com order rolled in on May 2. Now the budding Bergen Beach businesswoman is working on a financial plan to pitch to investors.
Going from being a housewife to a CEO has been an adjustment according to Melucci, but her real challenge — inspiration — came well before.
“My life changed when I became a mama,” she said.