They say things happen for a reason. I believe that's true.
I was 19 years old and going to school for hotel restaurant management when I attended my friend's fetal ultrasound. It was such an emotional experience that the next day, I switched my major and enrolled into the ultrasound program at Delaware Technical and Community College. After graduation, I got my first job as an ultrasound tech at Union Hospital in Elkton, MD.
As the years went by, I started a family and became a single mother shortly after. I needed more flexibility and time to be with my kids, which led me to become a private contractor in a local OB/GYN's office. I loved my job.
Not long after, the obstetrician and I decided to start a small side business doing 3D ultrasounds out of the office. I was scheduling a customer when I was asked if we had the stuffed animals that could record a baby's heartbeat. I instantly fell in love with the idea and embarked on a mission to find these heartbeat animals.
I searched all over the internet for a "heartbeat bear kit" and found nothing. From there, I started ordering recorders from one company and unstuffed animals from another company, and I hand-stuffed the animals at night when my kids were in bed. I began selling them so quickly that I had to hire people to help me stuff them.
That was when my fiancé suggested "cutting out the middle man" and manufacturing our own animals. I was nervous but excited for this new adventure. I immediately cashed out my retirement and hired someone to design a website for me. I promised myself that I would create a million-dollar company within five years.
We placed our first order for 4,000 bears in May of 2011. Sheldon, my fiancé, started working on turning our garage into an office, and I searched Craigslist for a stuffing machine. When my animals arrived, I was blown away by the quality. They were by far the nicest animals I had ever seen, and I knew other 3D ultrasound studios would love them, too. That was the start of My Baby's Heartbeat Bear.
We reached out to companies by phone, sent samples and flyers out, and worked on marketing and online advertising. That first year we sold $12,000. The next year – $120,000. The year after that – $804,000. The following year, I reached my goal a year early, and we broke $1 million in sales. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you believe in yourself.
Business has continued to grow every year, and we actively create new products to keep our customers happy and satisfied. Our goal is to have quality, trendy products and to provide our customers with the best customer service available. We are a small business with 7 employees but look forward to growth and expansion with new products consistently in the works.
Our Heartbeat Animals become lasting keepsakes for families welcoming a new baby or having to say goodbye to loved ones. We are blessed to bring comfort and smiles to so many people. It's been an amazing journey that began with one fetal ultrasound.
About the author: Purusha Rivera is the founder of My Baby's Heartbeat Bear.