Cincinnati, OH

Bev Perrea and Beth Koenig of BANDI

How did you start your business?
In June of 2011, we formed an LLC and have been self-funding while working out of our homes. Once we had our idea worked out, we spent most of the following year on pattern development, sourcing materials and manufacturing. Our goal from the beginning was to launch our product at the Flying Pig in May 2012, which we did with great success.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
We’re both active, and knew we wanted to develop a new way to carry our phone, camera or other small essentials while we exercised. As we looked around at the offerings, we saw a lot of boring black cases. We wanted something that was fun and colorful and fit our lifestyles. After much experimenting, we hit on our idea to make a belt using stretch fabric in fun prints. We also knew that we didn’t want our belts to have Velcro or zippers, and that is what is most unique about our product.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We found a lot of support right here in Cincinnati. For example, we used a local branding firm for logo development and marketing materials, and all of our patent and trademark work was done by a law firm downtown. Initially, we found a Cincinnati-based manufacturer, but now the cutting and sewing is being done in Kentucky. Additional support (insurance, printing, booth materials, social media and accounting work) is all right here in Cincinnati. There have also been great opportunities to market our belts through various outlets, like Findlay Market.

What’s next for you and your company?
We plan to grow our business through marketing, distribution and retail. We also have some other product ideas that will nicely compliment our belts, wraps and headbands.

Interview by Robin Donovan