Schmid (clockwise), Heather Hays and Amy Barnum are sisters who
are all entrepreneurs.
Growing up in
Glendale with six siblings in a single-parent household, the Bendfeldt
sisters learned to be resourceful at an early age.
forced to be MacGyvers," says Amy Bendfeldt Barnum. "If
there was something we wanted, we had to get creative."
Today, as grown
women with families of their own, three of the Bendfeldt sisters have
channeled that early resourcefulness into entrepreneurial endeavors.
Heidi Bendfeldt Schmid of Whitefish Bay launched Q-Redew, a handheld
hair steamer, in October. Younger sister Amy, also of Whitefish Bay,
began marketing Quivvers, a line of cross-body straps, in December
2011, and Heather Bendfeldt Hays has been selling a line of organic
toffees and caramels for about two years on the East Coast.
three began pursuing their businesses around the same time, none knew
about the other’s entrepreneurial aspirations in the beginning.
Now the sisters
use each other as touchstones in their business pursuits. The three
talk almost daily and value each other’s opinions.
considers herself an accidental entrepreneur. While having new
draperies hung in her home a few years ago, Schmid watched the
installer smooth out wrinkles with an industrial-grade steamer. That’s
when it occurred to her that a steamer would work wonders on her own
naturally curly hair. Schmid got online, but her Internet searches
turned up nothing.
Not to be
deterred, Schmid took parts from different household appliances and
fashioned her own handheld hair steamer.
pretty, but it worked," says Schmid.
concept itself only took five minutes to think of, it took another
five years to get Q-Redew up and running. The handheld hair steamer,
which uses warm mist to rejuvenate limp hair, boost volume and
reactivate curls, debuted online in October. "It’s an organic
solution that can turn any day into a good hair day," Schmid
business is relying heavily on social media to attract interest and
customers. So far, response for the Q-Redew has been entirely positive
with online testimonials touting the Q-Redew as magic and the
"holy grail" of curly hair care products.
For Amy Barum,
Quivvers was born of necessity. An active mom of five, the Whitefish
Bay resident was constantly on the hunt for a hands-free solution to
carry essentials like her mobile phone, money and keys.
Then a few years
ago while watching a young man at the airport struggle to stow his
cell phone in his messenger bag, the answer dawned on Barnum — a
cross-body strap. Once home, she fashioned a prototype out of an old
bed sheet and from there Quivvers took off.
Designed to be
minimal, yet high-tech, every part of the Quivvers cross-body strap is
functional. There’s a clear pocket for your cell phone and dedicated
compartments for cash, keys, credit cards, media players and more.
have to repack it," explains Barnum. "Just put it in your
purse and go."
On the market
for a little over a year, Quivvers has received favorable reviews. The
cross-body strap was picked up by the Pro Beach Volleyball Tour last
summer and Barnum has secured reps on the East and West coasts. She
also was a guest vendor at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 along
with sister Heather. "We’re in a few mom-and-pop retailers, but
still mostly web-based," Barnum says.
Milwaukee using all American-made materials, Quivvers come in a
variety of styles, including bold colors, reflective fabrics and fun
Organic Toffee (charleystoffee.com)
Heather Hays spent hours in her grandmother’s kitchen learning to
make homemade candy. Years later, Hays continued the tradition with
her own family. But after she and her four children were diagnosed
with Celiac disease, Hays modified her grandmother’s recipes with
local, organic and gluten-free ingredients.
became less likely to eat things that have chemicals and are
over-processed, I started making candy organically and people
responded positively," says Hays, who lives in Westfield, N.J.
encouragement from friends and family, Hays began selling her candy at
local farmers markets. The response was overwhelming, and Charley’s
Organic Toffee, a line of organic caramels and toffees, was on its
taste my sea salt caramels, you’re hooked," says Hays, who
sells her candy mainly at farmers markets and by word of mouth. The
Village Voice, an alternative newspaper in New York City, described
Hays’ caramels as "edible crack."
Following a turn
as a guest vendor at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Hays has
gained a few corporate clients and gigs at some high-profile weddings.
Charley’s Organic Toffee is available online and at farmers markets
and seasonal markets on the East Coast. But Hays is exploring how to
upsize her candy-making operation without sacrificing the quality the
sweet treats have become known for.