Culture & Entertainment

Olli Lolli: A mompreneur on her clothing-line success

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Olli Lolli: A mompreneur on her clothing-line success

 

Above, Olli Lolli cargo pants that can hold an epipen

When my son, Cillian, 4, was diagnosed with a nut allergy, I didn't have any clothing he could tote his epipen in. That's when I discovered Olli Lolli Allergy Apparel -- made in Canada -- with special pockets to hold allergy medication. I chatted via email with the mompreneur, Michelle Williams, about making a dream come true and running a successful business. Q. Michelle, tell me about why you created this product line? A. My eldest son, Immanuel now 7, has severe food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and dairy. When he was entering JK, I was very worried about him being exposed to an allergen. He had to have an EpiPen with him at all times. But at the age of 4, it was unlikely that he would be able to keep track of it in a fanny pack. It occurred to me that it would be easier for him and my peace of mind, if the pocket for his allergy med was built-in to his clothing. Q. If you created it because your child or kids have an allergy, can you tell me about the allergies (my son has a nut allergy, which I discovered after he ate hazelnut spread (mild), then was exposed to macadamia nuts (swelling lips). It's so scary! A. We discovered Immanuel’s allergy when he was still an infant. We fed him some dairy infant formula for the first time at about 10 months old. He immediately had an anaphylactic reaction, it was definitely one of the scariest moments of my life! He was given a blood test which then revealed all of his other allergies, including peanut. Q. How are these clothing items received in schools? (in other words, what feedback have you got about them). A. The feedback has been very positive. We’ve had some feedback from a few schools now including pre-schools, and they love the idea. Particularly for smaller kids, a fanny pack or pouch can be an encumbrance. With the clothing there’s no bulky pack to play with, get in the way or lose. Q. I'm assuming you're a mompreneur. Tell me about the process and why you made the jump. A. I am! I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. It wasn’t a difficult jump to make. I had the idea, I wanted it for my son, and so I endeavored to make the clothing. I realized, of course that I wasn’t the only parent out there with an allergic child, trying to figure out the best way to make sure their potentially life-saving medication was always with them, and here we are today with Olli Lolli Allergy Apparel. Q.  Can you tell me a bit about what you did before this? Prior career, educational background, anything like that? A. Prior to this my career background is in marketing and project management. My last gig was as marketing manager for an online women’s boutique in the UK. Q. What plans do you have for the future for Olli Lolli? A. We would really like to have a presence offline in stores and children’s boutiques. We’ve just launched the Olli Pocket™ cargo pant, and may consider doing a line of winter outerwear. Thanks Michelle!
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Olli Lolli: A mompreneur on her clothing-line success

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