When my kids were younger, I often found myself balancing the responsibilities of my demanding work life and raising several children. There were so many times that spills, stains, spit-up or even just dirty hands from art projects or playing outside caused me to have to rush and change into a clean outfit. These stressful and time-consuming moments made me think: wouldn’t it be great to have an easy-to-wear, throw-on/throw-off garment that would protect my clothes during the often messy meal and playtime hours? Even more important than saving time and money on laundry and dry cleaning, some type of “clothing cover-up” would provide additional precious, uninterrupted moments with my children.
While I still have a busy job (or two or three!), my kids, as well as my seven godchildren and my many nieces and nephews, are older and for the most part self-sufficient. So I recently decided it was now or never to see if my entrepreneurial pursuit could become a reality.
After teaming up with my business partner, Erin Pace, we conducted focus groups and met extensively with moms and dads who are teachers, mechanics, accountants, cops, firemen, bank executives, news anchors, athletes and lawyers. Everyone we spoke with instantly recognized the need for a product solely dedicated to protecting clothes from spills, stains, dirt and other messes. Many members of our focus groups wanted to make sure that the garment would be made out of fabrics that did not harm the environment.
What we also learned was that people were using all sorts of ineffective, often amusing and somewhat complicated methods to handle unpredictable and untidy situations...from wearing a smock, apron or oversized men's shirt to sneaking into a mudroom near the back door to change into work or party clothes at the very last minute.
The bottom line was that these various solutions were inefficient and didn't fully meet anyone's needs. The feedback we gained prompted us to move forward.
When our research was complete it was clear to us that our concept for a practical, sensible and specially designed garment to protect clothes would be an indispensable mealtime, playtime and clean-up time accessory for parents, grandparents and caregivers. In addition, we discovered that there were numerous other pragmatic uses, such as serving as a cover-up while eating in a car, hosting an arts & crafts party, or washing out a fish tank (yep, someone actually recommended that!).
So, inspired, our next step was to search far and wide for soft and cozy material that could offer protection from foods and fluids without them soaking through. It also had to be inexpensive, reusable, environmentally conscious, fashionable in a utilitarian way, and have sizes that fit both men and women.
Following an extensive design process as well as inspecting, testing and re-testing, koobli™—a made-up name for Erin's “blankie” that she remembered from her childhood—was born. This innovative unisex garment addresses the needs of any working or stay-at-home caregiver while saving valuable time and money.
We are certain that koobli™ will help make your child-rearing experience more enjoyable and allow you to focus on what matters most: the simple and incomparable delight of being with your children.
Lisa Belzberg is the Founder and Executive Chairperson of the non-profit organization PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning). She has worked for political campaign consultant David Garth, as a producer of The Charlie Rose Show, as a Principal at Leeds Equity Partners, and as an Adjunct Professor at both Teacher's College/Columbia and NYU/Steinhardt. Dr. Belzberg was named one of the "10 Most Influential New Yorkers" by New York magazine in 1998. In 2000, Dr. Belzberg was honored as one of Redbook's "Mothers and Shakers," was featured in Harper's Bazaar's "A View From The Top: Seven Power Women," was named one of George magazine's "Citizens of the Year, " and was included in Crain's New York Business' list of "40 Under 40."
Erin Pace is a dance instructor at Sheila Kelley's S Factor/NY. She began her career as a dancer with Eglevsky Ballet (under the helm of Edward Villella) and American Dance Machine (Lee Theodore). She performed in numerous theatrical productions throughout New York City and the USA for five years following her studies at Syracuse University, then shifted careers behind-the-scenes to work as a company/tour manager, producer, and assistant to several high profile actresses. She sits on the Board of dre.dance (a modern dance company founded by artistic directors/choreographers Taye Diggs and Andrew Palermo) and was previously a Board member of NYCA (NY Celebrity Assistants).