18 January 2018

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Bshirt Ltd: Breastfeed With Confidence…

Business partners Lisa Lessware and Philippa Doyle have created a business model and social enterprise based entirely around their own experience as mothers, passion for creative innovation and advocacy in support of breastfeeding in public.

Lisa found inspiration for The Bshirt clothing range during her time volunteering as an NCT breastfeeding peer supporter, “I saw so many women struggling because they were afraid of exposing themselves. They were wearing intricate, expensive clothing – and it was getting in the way!”

At a baby yoga class, Philippa noticed Lisa’s simple, self-made breastfeeding top and how easy it made feeding in public, “I felt that there might be something in it so we started product development and market research. Two years later, we were in business!” The BShirt is an undershirt that allows women to breastfeed confidently in public, whilst concealing their stomach and chest.

As a start up with limited resources but unlimited enthusiasm, the pair were keen to explore all possible business support opportunities that could help them achieve their business growth plans – but time was of the essence as generating more sales was an immediate concern. Lisa was introduced to Growth Hub business adviser, Chelsea Hardy and, after an initial needs diagnostic, Chelsea quickly identified the BShirt for the Growth Support Service – the Growth Hub’s in-house intensive support scheme for businesses operating in sectors that often struggle to access mainstream funded support.

Under the Growth Support Service, Paul Read of Iridescent Ideas CIC worked with Lisa and Philippa to develop a growth support plan, ensuring that their social mission was not compromised by their own growth. Lisa said: “Bshirt products are ethically made and enable women to wear their own clothes, to express their own style and feel like themselves again. It was important that we found a business support partner that understood this.”

Iridescent Ideas, who specialise in growing the UK’s social enterprise economy, worked with Lisa and Philippa on a number of business related topics, including; how to take advantage of the funding options available to them, the importance of good branding and a solid marketing plan and choosing the right legal structure for their social mission.

On receiving funded business support via the Heart of the South West Growth Hub, Lisa said: “Paul was so helpful and knowledgeable. We would often speak on the phone when I was home with my kids after school but he didn’t mind the chaos in the background. He helped us to draft our UnLtd grant application and we got the funding we so desperately needed to take our business to the next level.”

Following the support they received, Lisa and Philippa’s unlimited enthusiasm for their venture is once again apparent, “In three years we hope to have established ourselves as a market leader in breastfeeding clothing and that our Donate One campaign has made a massive impact helping new mums to breastfeed in the UK.”

Find out more about the Growth Support Service

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