Bella Cova, (translation: "the beautiful nest"), will be pioneering a retail and resource center in Spokane, WA, dedicated to nurturing and empowering new mothers with quality information, outstanding products, and compassionate services, all in ONE place.
Many new and expectant mothers, like me, have a tremendous need for expert lactation support and information. They may be discouraged from breastfeeding because they don’t have the instant resources available to them through their troubles or the ability to test the products before buying them. Often, the equipment cost is discouraging as well, and the only current resource available locally for renting breast pumps is the hospitals, and they only offer one brand with fairly high rental fees. As more and more women enter the workforce sooner after birthing their babies, and with growing medical support to encourage breastfeeding babies vs. formula feeding, the need to be prepared with the proper equipment and support is imperative.
Given the current economic state of the nation, more and more families are looking to reusable and renewable products to save money. The average family can spend thousands of dollars a year purchasing disposable diapers. Many families in need, find themselves having to choose between buying diapers and food, utility bills or childcare. Another surprise to me as a new mother is that there is no store in Spokane to purchase the quality cloth diaper products available on the market. I had to purchase my cloth diapers and accessories online from a store in NY!
Spokane is a health care leader in many respects, with many award winning hospitals and programs. However, there is a great need in our community to promote mother-friendly maternity care and encourage childbearing families and birth professionals to make informed health care decisions and improve our community’s birth culture. Currently, there is a valuable birthing network online called "Bloom Spokane." It has often been suggested to Bloom Spokane to open a physical store and resource center for Bloom clients so families can have a location to come to and talk with the birthing professionals in person and to host Bloom Spokane meetings and events. They have been looking for someone else to fill that void for the last 4 years.
Expectant as well as postpartum mothers, both need to stay in shape, receive relief from pregnancy and birthing aches and pains, as well as prepare for labor and birth. A mother needs to be educated and nurtured herself, first, in order to be able to provide the best care for her family. Spokane is in need of a facility to host quality prenatal and postnatal exercise (yoga, pilates, etc.) and nutrition classes with professional instructors and educators devoted to mamas and babies (baby food making classes, etc.), as well as a facility dedicated to nurturing mamas through massage and alternative medicine choices for pregnancy and postpartum remedies, in one location.
The Problem – Spokane needs a resource/retail center dedicated to new and expectant mothers. While there are many consignment shops for baby, child and maternity clothing, and hospital services post birth, etc., there is no place in the Spokane area that carries the quality, unique products (example: top name brand cloth diapers, green breast pumps), or will offer the services and support (example: support groups for new Papas, or premie support meetings). We will offer the convenience of providing these things for families, in ONE, nurturing location.
As a new mother, I was determined to provide the irreplaceable nutrients and bonding of breastfeeding for my baby, but found myself in much discomfort and frustration with the process. I needed help, and I needed to talk to a human being in person, asap! I discovered there was no place in Spokane to just walk in, no appointment made, and “talk out” my problem (especially on a Saturday), or to buy the necessary resources with personal instruction to be successful.
I'm SO passionate about starting this business, as are many mothers and families in Spokane. I've been working feverishly on getting it going for the last few months (my husband keeps telling me I have a small "army" working for me!). I'm currently on the quest to attain funds for the start up of Bella Cova. I've never felt so right about something, and it's obvious that the main purpose of this business (helping people) is being smiled upon greatly! :)
I've been trying to come up with a way to make our dreams happen with an SBA special loan. All we need to come up with is the down payment on the loan ($32k) and a financial partner(s) to purchase the house where the center will be (see below: the gorgeous, wonderfully pre-zoned house).
That being said, without any solid partners involved, and the goal of opening in September, and with the state of the economy today, I know that private investors and philanthropists (like you!) are looking for creative ideas in which to invest and often get a better return on their investments by working directly with business owners. I've decided to try crowd funding. As you may or may not know, it's an "all or nothing" fundraising technique (either you reach the entire goal by deadline, or you don't get any of the contributions - no one is charged if the goal isn't reached). I've been meeting so many supportive people and even some that have thought of starting a business like mine, but again, the stars just weren't aligned to pull it off. For those of you who know me well, you know once I get an idea in my head, I make it happen.
So, here's the deal: Lets MAKE IT HAPPEN TOGETHER! I'm going public and letting the world know about Bella Cova! I need to find a large contributer for the purchase of the house, etc. (please contact me if that's you!), but in the meantime, I need to work towards getting that smaller, down payment on the bank start-up loan so we can at least secure that and move forward with negotiations on purchasing the house.
Here's where I ask you, my friend, family member, lover of all things mama, baby and Heather & Tony Villa related ;), to become more involved in helping me start this business for our community. Please browse through my profile, and if you feel so inclined, make a contribution to the cause. You can see the levels of cool rewards involved, and if you should feel even more generous or just as passionate about the cause and are interested in becoming a larger partner, please contact me directly. I'm open to ideas ;)
I'm confident this business is going to be successful, and with YOUR support and the support of my friends and family in getting it started, I'm even MORE energized! Cheers and Much Gratitude, Heather
Here is just a little snapshot of some of the quality, green friendly products (unique to the Spokane market!) we will be carrying in our retail part of the center!
FUZZIBUNS, BUMGENIUS, ETC. award winning cloth diaper brands.
Hygeia Breast Pumps! (Surpasses Medela in quality and GREEN FRIENDLY, reuse and recycle!)
And many, many, MANY MORE green and mama/baby friendly products!
CEO and Co-Founder. Heather has extensive experience in retail and marketing, managing stores and businesses such as Eddie Bauer, Express, The Walking Company, Great Harvest Bread Company, Interplayers Professional Theatre, and her local band, “6 Foot Swing,” which has won Best Band in the Inland NW 5 years in a row. She has a BA from Whitworth University in Arts Administration and Theatre, and currently works in sales and marketing for the award winning and most read weekly paper in the nation, The Inlander. She is also a wife and mother of two small children.
Co-Founder and Full Time Chief Maintenance Operator (future business opportunity of Restaurant and Deli Manager). Tony has extensive experience in restaurant management and food services, managing and helping to start up such places as the Davenport Tower’s Safari Room, the Davenport Hotel’s Post St. Ale House, Europa Pizzaria, The Blvd and currently works as a customer service specialist with Traveler’s Insurance, husband and father of two small children.
Advisor, Launchpad INW, LLC. Co-Founder and Managing Partner of LaunchPad INW, LLC since January, 2009. Spokane, WA native with a unique background as an entrepreneur, angel investor, a technology sales professional and Chief Executive Officer. Worked for leading technology companies for approximately 15 years in the Pacific Northwest and in Silicon Valley including Cisco Systems, Williams Communications and most recently Force10 Networks. Served on several Pacific NW regional boards including the Downtown Spokane Partnership and the Spokane County Workforce Development Council. Co-founder of the region's most popular annual networking event called LaunchPad, Co-Founder of ViVo Publications Group and also the founder and CEO of Connect Northwest, a local organization consisting of a network of service providers that provide assistance to start-ups, networking events and access to capital.
Business Advisor, Small Business Development Center. Alan joined the SBDC Network in August 2010 after 37 years in the banking industry as a manager, loan officer, business development specialist, and credit administrator. He is an Associate Faculty member with Washington State University and serves the greater Spokane area, including Spokane, Stevens, and Lincoln counties. Alan holds a Bachelors degree in Marketing from Washington State University and has completed a number of professional certifications with the American Institute of Banking and the Northwest Intermediate Banking School. He has participated with numerous community business organizations to promote small business growth and sustainability and is presently an officer with the East Spokane Business Association.
Family Counseling/Educator. Allison received her Master of Arts from Gonzaga University in Marriage and Family Counseling, and her Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Washington University in Psychology. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate. In addition to working with families and couples, Allison has worked with children, individuals and has co-taught group parenting classes. She was awarded the Washington Association for Marriage and Family Counseling student scholarship, and has served as a liaison coordinator for the 560th Air National Guard during overseas deployments. She was a presenter for the Washington Counseling Association on issues of sexual dysfunction. Allison grew up in Spokane, and has been a military wife for 11+ years. She and her husband have one son. In addition to being a counselor, Allison is an accomplished violinist and has held positions in the Coeur d’Alene Symphony and Opera, Vallejo Symphony, Stockton Symphony and Opera, and North Bay Opera.
Co-conspirator, Bloom Spokane.com. Tine is passionate about thoughtfully integrating good design, clear communication, and user expectations in all facets of the online experience. She has a wicked sixth sense for what motivates people to take action on the web and a measurable track record to prove it. In addition to her list of client design work, at her agency Sixth Man Marketing, she was a founding partner of the San Francisco marketing communications firm Mission Minded and is Founder and Executive Director of the local nonprofit Bloom Spokane. Over the last 17 years, Tine has worked at design studios in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, co-founded a highly successful marketing communications firm, founded a grassroots nonprofit organization and is the wife and mother of two young children.
Web Consultant, Design Spike. Allyson Shoshana graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has been working in the technical and marketing fields for the last twenty years. As an early adopter of social media for communication and marketing, she has become focused on social trends and blogging. She helps brands, organizations and individuals extend customer care programs and marketing programs to web-based communities. She also serves as Design Spike’s project manager, interfacing with clients and assisting in the understanding of website development, strategic planning, and social media monitoring and measurement.
Marketing Consultant, Inovative Marketing & Planning. With 12+ years as a Marketing and Advertising Consultant, 10 years in retail management including Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer & Guess Jeans, and 8+ years as an Event Coordinator, Emily Walden brings a wealth of knowledge to my business as a marketing consultant and business professional. She currently owns her own marketing and consulting business, Innovating Marketing representing clients in Washington, Idaho, Colorado and more. She is also currently on the Board of Directors for the Spokane Executives Association and is president elect for 2013.