Fabulous Female Friday: An-Su De Lellis & Kelly McGee
I’m always inspired by women in business, especially those who have created their own business. So this instalment of Fabulous Female Friday has a little twist; I’ll be featuring two fabulous females today.
Please meet An-Su Lellis and Kelly McGee, co-owners of My Armadillo Pillow.
These fab women are two London moms who have identified a need, created a solution, produced a product and turned it into a thriving business. How inspiring is that?
Here we learn about and from An-Su and Kelly.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
An-Su: I am originally from South Africa – moved to Canada 12 years ago. I
own a graphic design company “The Design Loft” and I am married to a very supportive husband.
We have one little boy (2½ years old). We love to travel as a family. I can speak three languages and English is my second language.
We live in a heritage home that we have been renovating for the last 4 years ( mental note: never buy an old house again!)
I love technology and enjoy time with friends and family.
Kelly: I’m an enthusiastic, shopaholic who enjoys gardening, home renos and hanging out with family. I have an amazing son who is 6 yrs old.
Tell us about My Armadillo Pillow.
As parents we had to make peace with the reality of our kids wanting to use grown-up technology. We searched for a practical solution to make this more compatible with our lifestyles and wallets! Not finding anything we loved, we designed the “iDeal” solution ourselves… my armadillo pillow!
My armadillo pillow, is a mini pillow with a protective pocket and a Velcro closure that will keep your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad secure. The touch-through screen protector lets kids explore child friendly applications, watch their favourite movies or enjoy their toe-tapping tunes; an adventure for them, peace of mind for you.
Our iPod/iPhone pillow comes with a wristband key chain for holding and attaching while not in use. We also included a pocket that closes with Velcro that can be used for earphone storage or credit cards if you don’t want to carry a whole purse with your phone.
The iPad pillow is an amazing companion for little ones exploring the iPad applications. We have discovered that kids suffering from Autism gain a lot from using an iPad, our pillow makes it easier for them to hold and use. With our fabric options we can address various textile (sensory) preferences. We understand the advantages of kids and technology, we just want to ensure the transition is a pleasant one for both parent and child.
How did you turn your idea into a business?
We knew what purpose we wanted our product for. We made quite a few prototypes and had our kids act as product testers. Then we gave some to friends and family for their feedback. After some minor product adjustments, we launched our product.
This whole journey has been one of learning, love and enjoyment. We believe in our product and when people see it they are blown away by the quality. We take this process one step at a time, and hope it will remain an adventure.
Business partners first, friends next or vice versa?
Kelly: Business acquaintances first through my daycare, then friends, then business partners.
What advice do you have for other women who want to take their idea and turn it into a profitable business?
An-Su: It’s easy and less challenging to say ” I should have” and you are always right. I prefer to say “I did and I can” and then continue with what I have learned from it.
Kelly: My advice is to start small, don’t invest your life savings right away. If you believe in something, just go for it! Don’t worry about what anyone else says but still be open to suggestions….and most importantly, keep your momentum. Don’t give up on your dream.
How do you balance running your own business and being moms?
An-Su: Being organized is very important. I avoid micro-managing. Not just in my business but overall in my life. I surround myself with people who make me want to be a better business woman and person. Kelly is an amazing friend and a dream business partner. We are able to motivate each other, keep focus and dream big.
Kelly: Luckily I’m used to balancing everything by myself so it comes naturally. There’s no secret really, just organization and proper time allocation.
What are your future plans for My Armadillo Pillow?
Kelly: Just keep doing what we’re doing until we feel the need to have larger quantities produced. Even though we send a lot[of our product] to the USA it has just been recognized internationally. There are plans to get our name over there in the near future.
What motivates and inspires you?
An-Su: My family inspires me. I get motivated when I hear people say that our idea is brilliant and that they need one!
Kelly: My family.
What is the last song you listened to on your iPod?
An-Su: I lost custody of my iPod to my toddler over the last couple of days but when I do get a chance, I listen to Journey, Don’t Stop Believing.
Kelly: Hmm, not sure. I enjoy listening to my fav radio station as opposed to keeping a playlist.
What is the last book you read?
An-Su: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Kelly: Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach