PSS

Scale

Small Hobby, Big Business

by Douglas Hoagland ’15

It wasn’t until after her first daughter was born that Julie Feldman O’Connell ’98 truly understood what was lacking in the baby blanket, bib and towel market. Bibs were always too short and they were not reversible. Blankets would always fall off the stroller, becoming dirty and failing to shield her daughter from the sun or keep her warm. She couldn’t find a blanket that worked well with her baby carrier or that helped her nurse privately in public. Hooded towels were cute, but they always fell open, leaving little ones cold.

After a bit of hard work, including honing her sewing skills, and some creativity, Feldman O’Connell came up with solutions, first for her own children, though it wasn’t long before her small scale hobby became a big scale business. “The blankets, bibs and towels I came across were not soft enough, the fabric’s print was not impressive, and most of all they were not functional,” says Feldman O’Connell. “As a result, I started to make blankets, bibs and towels for friends and received amazing feedback.”

Her first creation, “Blanket on the Go,” snaps onto strollers and carriers, and safely snaps around mommy’s neck to provide coverage while nursing. She went on to design stylish bibs that are long, reversible and have a terry cloth bottom to cover or wipe messy spills, and towels made with a snap closure at the nape of the neck, keeping children warm and bundled.

“Initially I started selling my products to friends and families that saw them on my own infants, but eventually I expanded,” she says of her company, Bella Bundles. “A friend of a friend suggested I show my products to a storeowner, who seemed to like them right away. After that I started selling my line to more and more stores.”

It wasn’t long after that Feldman O’Connell’s luxury baby layette and gear went global. In May of 2012, Bella Bundles was featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show’s Mother’s Day Giveaway episode, where her products were given away to expectant mothers and celebrity moms. And during the 2013 Royal Baby buzz, Feldman O’Connell was featured on the website, Celebrity Baby Trends, and appeared on a CNN International’s Royal Baby News segment, discussing what new members of the royal family can wear from her line to be “regal yet fun and comfortable.” Most recently, her products have made their way to Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, the first granddaughter of President Bill Clinton and former Sectary of State Hillary Clinton.

Feldman O’Connell prides herself on not only the quality, practicality, and functionality of her products and their international success, but also on the fact that Bella Bundles gear is made in the United States. For every Bella Bundles purchase, a portion of the proceeds goes to Angels Family Foster Network. Feldman O’Connell credits her HWS education, as well as internships engaging with children in the Geneva community, with her desire to give back.

“Going to such a great school and interacting with so many people on campus and in the town just made me want to give back to children in other communities also,” she says.

 

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.