Xpanda BraNursing Bra Business just the right fit - Xpanda Bra
Nursing Bra Business just the right fit

24 Mar Nursing Bra Business just the right fit


Maternity nursing Bra Business just the right fit

After the birth of their first child, Cora, Declan McDonnell’s wife Diane found that an ordinary nursing bra didn’t accommodate for fluctuating breast while breastfeeding – and like any good husband would, the Trillick man tried to find a solution. The 42-year-old, however, couldn’t find anything that fitted that description – so he took matters into his own hands.

A former employee at Daintyfit in Irvinestown, a large supplier of bras to Marks and Spencers, Declan coincidentally found that he could understand his wife’s problem that little bit more than normal. And, after close to three years, he had created a product from scratch. It’s sold online and in eight retailers across the Northern Ireland, and one in the South Ireland.

The product in its current form is a nursing bra with individual adjustable cup sizes so that it continues to fit body changes during and after pregnancy, especially when breastfeeding. “I sat down one night, drew a sketch, on the kitchen table and asked my wife what she thought of it, she said it’d be great if it worked. That was in 2009. I didn’t do anything really until 2010, and I took a look again. There was still nothing out there,” Declan soon made moves to push his idea further on from a scrap of paper.

I came across this company in Salisbury in England called Innovate-Design.I got advice from them and they said if I was sincere about this then I need to get a patent search done to ensure that there’s nothing out there that was similar.” Searches continued, and when a patent search ‘the size of a phonebook’ came back, Declan was in luck. “Then I was helped to file my first UK patent. I applied for a European registered design to protect the look of it and I trademarked the product name ‘Xpanda Bra’.

“I did the first prototype and my wife was the first guinea pig at that time. It worked and the next stage was getting a manufacturer.” Declan found a seamstress, a Russian living in London, named Anna Sanders. Her nationality, coincidentally, would prove useful as the search for a manufacturer went on. “I tried China, and I tried Turkey. After about a year working with china, they made what we wanted work, but the quality wasn’t there – and we didn’t want just innovation, we wanted quality. It was the same in Turkey. “After a good 18 months, we were almost back to square one.”

Deciding to look a little closer to home, Declan found luck with Latvia at the beginning of 2012. He soon found himself visiting Latvia, Russian-speaking Anna ensured communication with workers was simple – and the minimum order of 2,500 pieces was placed. “We stayed in Latvia for roughly a week – made a few changes to help speed up the process, and I had my first order delivered in January 2013.

We’re now trading a year.” Investment came from the couple’s own savings and loans, and Declan pointed to ‘great’ help from Fermanagh Enterprise Centre and Invest NI. “To date, we’re selling online, we’ve sold to Spain, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, and we’re selling online on Amazon,” Declan went on.

Across Northern Ireland , retailers are stocking Xpanda Bra, including locally in bey-bee and SD Kells, Irvinestown, and SD Kells in Lisnaskea and Enniskillen. “It was very slow at the beginning – you can have the best product in the world but if nobody knows about it, it’s not going to sell. The best way that we’re selling is word of mouth, but it’s also the slow way.”

Having been trading for over a year, Declan hopes to continue to grow the business. “We’ve just become a limited company; we’re revising the website and putting more into the promotional end of things. We hope to put out more colours and get into other retailers.” Last week, the business confirmed that it was been granted a EU patent, and are awaiting a patent from the US to be granted.

Tags: 2013,

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