Entrepreneur Interview – Malia Bracken-Downey
Malia Bracken-Downey, President and Founder of Yeepos LLC. designed and patented Velcro fleece leg warmers known as Yeepōs®. Yeepōs® are a stylish fun spin on the traditional leg warmer. They are functional and easy to use. This revolutionary new product takes the traditional leg warmer to a whole new level.
After working 24 years in Corporate America, it was time for Malia to move on and become a full-time Mom with her first child on the way. With three and a half months to go until her due date, she received the surprise of a lifetime: a baby girl! Since then, her top priority has been caring for a premature child.
Interview Q & A
1. What is your business/Business Name? What does your business do?
Yeepos LLC manufactures Velcro fleece leg warmers for added warmth for all ages; available in youth and adult sizes. Yeepos leg warmers are available through our online store at www.yeepos.us , direct sales and vendor shows.
2. Why did you get into this field? What opportunities did you see?
My journey started back in September of 2013 when my daughter went off to kindergarten to a local Catholic School. The winter weather was fast approaching and my concern was knowing how to keep her warm in her school uniform. I decided to send her to school in standard leg warmers or sweat pants. I discovered, when having a conversation with the teacher’s aide, that most of the children were unable to tie their shoes after removing their winter wear each morning. It was taking too much time in the morning to retie their shoes. I quickly decided to make a pair of Velcro leg warmers out of an old pair of leggings so my daughter could put them on and take them off without removing her shoes.
After receiving an overwhelming response about the leg warmers, I decided to research online to see if I could buy a pair, and realized the product did not exist. This led me to improve the design by using fleece and Velcro tabs along the outside seam of each leg. The feedback I received from my new design was so positive that I realized that there may be a market for this product.
After initially receiving a provisional patent, we proceeded to manufacture the leg warmers to sell during the winter season.
3. What have been your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenge is maintaining a healthy balance between launching a new business on a shoestring budget and motherhood without a guilty conscience.
4. What has been your greatest reward?
My greatest reward is being able to see my product come to life, which allows us to pay-it-forward by giving back to the charitable organizations that make a difference in children’s lives.
5. If you could change something, what would it be?
At this point, I would not change anything. My journey has been so exciting and rewarding, as well as educational.
6. If you could give a new entrepreneur advice, what would it be?
Building relationships is the most important aspect in starting a new business. The relationships I have built so far have led me to new and creative opportunities that I didn’t think were possible.
7. Social Media. Yay or Nay?
8. How do you market your products?
Networking with my local community, social media, online store, vendor shows, and athletic tournaments.
9. Is your business a service or a product? If you are a product, how do you handle production?
Product. Our product is hand-crafted in a small cut and sew facility in our local community.
10. What is unique about your business?
When I originally designed and patented my product, my goal was to solve a problem. Now I have discovered that my product has so many more uses than I originally thought. What makes Yeepos so unique is that we are the only company that sells this product.
11. Sell me your product/service.
Yeepōs are the Re-invention of the leg warmer—with LOVE! I created a Velcro fleece leg warmer for added warmth that you can put on and take off without removing your shoes. Initially, I designed the leg warmers for children who wear school uniforms. Now, I have learned that there are so many uses for Yeepos. My clients are wearing their leg warmers participating in sports, such as soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, horseback riding, and dance. I am also receiving an overwhelming response from special needs children and senior care.
12. How can people get in touch with you? What’s your website/Contact information?