A Robert Gordon University (RGU) student, who has just been announced as an SIE Fresh Ideas Winner, is hoping to empower pregnant women with her new business by providing much needed support giving them freedom and mobility.
Emma James, who is studying accounting via distance-learning at RGU’s Aberdeen Business School, suffered with her hips and lower back while she was pregnant and needed extra support around the pelvis, sacroiliac joints and hips.
The 36-year-old couldn’t find a product which did all that in one so she made her own prototype and has now won a Scottish Institute for Enterprise Fresh Ideas award and is hoping to launch her own business – Beltfree – next year.
“I just wanted something that could support my pelvis and bump but most of all make me look and feel great,” Emma said.
She continued: “I made my own prototype and managed the pain by providing the extra support I needed while pregnant. Beltfree is an innovative maternity range that can be worn postpartum. It is the first shapewear maternity range that has two main features to support the growing bump and pelvis, therefore no need to buy maternity belts, bands or supports.
“The range will be made up of tights, leggings and briefs of exceptional quality, being manufactured in Italy.”
Emma, who has two children, said to be recognised by the SIE with this award made all the hard work worth-while and the support from RGU on her entrepreneurial journey has been invaluable.
“It means so much to me to have this kind of recognition,” she said.
“To have SIE believe in me and my idea really makes it worthwhile. After years of rejection and just as I was questioning whether to give up, it’s all finally coming together.
“When applying for the SIE competition, I tried to get across the passion and enthusiasm I have for my business but most of all just to be able to come across as myself.
“It feels so good to have RGU supporting me along the way on this exciting journey.”
Emma is planning to launch her business early next year and aims to have her products available on the website and in the top three retailers, all while building the brand.
She concluded: “I want to be able to empower every pregnant woman by providing much needed support giving them freedom and mobility, enabling them to get on with their busy lives.”
Fresh Ideas is Scotland’s longest running national student enterprise competition for ideas at an early stage. The competition is designed by SIE exclusively for students and recent graduates of all subjects.
Every month, from October to January, participants have the chance to win a cash prize to help develop ideas into a real business venture.
Dawn Shand, SIE senior business and innovation advisor for Aberdeen and the north, said: ''A combination of personal insights, creative thinking, hard work and resilience has helped Emma develop the product so far.
"SIE is all about helping early stage ideas and Emma’s idea shows so much promise, we hope to be able to continue supporting her on her entrepreneurial journey in partnership with RGU.”