Mom story: I invented a one-of-a-kind product
When Talia Bahr Goldfarb, 39, of St. Louis, Missouri, couldn’t find a belt easy for her then-toddler son to fasten, she and her sister, Danielle, invented a Velcro belt that’s a cinch for little ones to use with one hand. Today, the belts are sold in catalogs and at more than 700 stores throughout the country. Their business, Myself Belts, has earned $2 million in sales since launching in 2004. Goldfarb, mom of three kids ages 13, 9 and 7, sometimes can’t believe the success is real and says the sole reason she has a business is because she’s a mom.
by Talia Bahr Goldfarb
as told to Julie Weingarden Dubin
I never planned to be an entrepreneur. I have my masters in social work and I was happily working as a therapist with kids in the foster care system. My life took a huge turn once my son was potty trained and his pants wouldn't stay up. I couldn't find a belt that my son could actually use on his own, so my sister and I decided to fill a void in the marketplace and invented Myself Belts — the belt kids can fasten themselves. I wanted to empower my son and nurture his pride in being able to be independent in the bathroom. We figured out a simple and innovative way for our belt to fasten, filed patent protection, and in 2004, brought Myself Belts to the market. My new venture was completely initiated by my life as a mom.
The making of a startup
Myself Belts' closure is the only one-handed belt on the market and truly the easiest belt that exists. It took us a little while to figure out exactly how the belt should close. We cut up belts, tried miscellaneous materials, had a sample made in the garment district in New York City and then had my son wear it to make sure that it worked.
Not having a background in sales worked in my favor. I wasn’t intimidated approaching buyers because I didn’t realize that I should be. Since I didn’t have business experience, I made decisions based on instinct, common sense and a strong belief in our product. I cold-called department stores, sent packages to magazine editors with our products and once people heard about the benefits of Myself Belts directly from the owner, it fostered great relationship building.
It still amazes me that people buy belts that I created. It’s hard to believe what my son's sagging pants have led to. I remember the first store order that we received. I was jumping up and down in my kitchen when I heard. Another incredible moment was when I saw a picture online of Madonna holding her daughter who was wearing our Metallic Heart belt. It was surreal.
My 4th child
Myself Belts has changed my family in every way. The business is like my 4th child. It’s impossible to separate business and family when you sell online, because you never close. Luckily my family takes pride in Myself Belts — in fact, my husband, Chuck, a physician, is my biggest fan!
I do a delicate juggling act in being able to work and also be the mom who picks my kids up from school and helps them with their homework. It’s not a perfect balance, but I think that when they see me struggle, they witness me doing the best I can which is what I hope for them. I’m often struck that their childhood has had a backdrop of watching their mom build a business. I think my children see my work ethic and are learning the benefits of working hard to achieve success.
A sense of pride
I’m most proud of the fact that our invention promotes independence and has made life easier for so many. Whether Myself Belts reduces school anxiety because it’s faster to go to the bathroom at school, or whether a child with dexterity issues has an easier time getting dressed, it feels great to know we have helped others.
I think part of why our customers are so loyal is because they know our story. I respond personally to emails and talk freely with customers and press outlets. At the root of it all, I’m a mom who had a common parenting frustration and invented a solution. I always think of my customers as "me" — just a mom trying to keep her kid's pants up.
Try to watch the world through your kids’ eyes and try to share their enthusiasm. Hang tight during the hard times because they’ll pass, and cherish the good times (a good night’s sleep, kids behaving like angels, days without sibling fighting) because they’re often fleeting, too.