Interview: Anna Ryan & Selena Srabian, Founders, Annie & Isabel

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Did you ever think, “If only I could get ______ (celebrity) to wear or use my product, I’d be incredibly successful?” Find out how two sisters, nurses and entrepreneurs created a designer hospital gown and landed it on the hit show Private Practice. Listen as they share their experiences with celebrity gifting and how they leverage social media to build their business.

 

 

Read the transcript

Rachel:  Today we’re with Selena Srabian and Anna Ryan of Annie & Isabel, the company which designs and manufactures The Stylish Alternative to a Hospital Gowns.  Life changing events ranging from the joy of giving birth to precious moments at the end of life has one common element, the hospital gown, their motto “When you look great you feel better” seems to resonate with patients, they are sisters, nurses and now business partners.  Welcome and thank you for taking with me today.  I’m excited for our listeners to hear your story it’s heartwarming and fascinating and I know that you recently had your gown Kate Walsh in Private Practice wore it, so I can’t wait to get into the marketing part to learn all about how that happened.  So, why don’t we start today with your company name and how you came up with the idea, it’s a great story.  So, how did you choose Annie & Isabel?

Anna & Selena:  Great.  So, thank you for having us.  Well, we are really close to our family.  Our mom is always and still backing us, she is in to genealogy and we were always like going to our grandparents house every summer and they’ve just – family is huge for us and so when we were growing at we were really close to our grandmother Isabel and our great grandmother Annie who is her mom and all of our grandparents that they really made an indelible mark on our lives.  So, when we were young we always said you know we’re going to name our daughters I got Isabel and she got Annie.  And then we had six boys so.

Anna & Selena:  Yes, so I have two and she has four and so when we got the idea of our company and you know we talked about it with our mom and we just thought this could be our girl baby we could use her name it’s like we can have our Annie & Isabel and then we can name all of our gowns after someone influential in our lives.  So, it kind of…

Rachel:  Tell me a little bit about how did you get the idea for this gown maybe you could describe a little bit about how this gown is different from the regular hospital gowns somebody would get?

Anna & Selena:  Well, we’re both nurses and I work in an Emergency Room and my sister works in Intensive Care Adult Unit.  And you know everyday really at work we’re both always embarrassed about the Hospital Gowns and of course the people that are in are more embarrassed to be in because it kind of takes away their dignity and puts everybody in the same boat which isn’t – that’s not necessarily always a bad thing but you know you don’t have clothing on underneath, your backs always hanging out and it’s, people’s number one complaint when they come to hospital and then we hand them these gowns and sometimes they have you know hair on them even though they are supposed to be clean or they have tears or all leakages, stickers stuck to them, things like that.

And so we’ve always thought you know that they should be done better and then kind of we just have talked back and forth about it and finally we were like why don’t we do this you know I mean this is something we could easily do and we know we make people feel better, and so we just sort of talked about it for a while I mean probably months and months and then finally we were like, well if we don’t try and do this company we’ll probably be disappointed in ourselves that we never tried.

So, we just started off small, we got here a friend of mine who does she makes clothing and designs you know different kinds of dresses and things like that, I approached her and asked for if she could help us design a hospital gown that we knew kind of what we wanted and if she could just help us put it together.  And that’s how we started and she helped us and we made a sample gown and really loved it and so that’s kind of stuff started.

Rachel:  Great, that’s amazing.  So, the idea came to you so when — what year was this and how long did it take to get off the ground would you say from the time that you have the idea, she helped designing the gown to when your first manufacturing gown was?

Anna & Selena:  Okay.  Well, the ideas kind been growing for really a long time like I can’t tell you how many times my patients in the ICU always say when is someone going to be redesign this thing, it’s so awful.  So, that’s going to always been with us but I don’t think it ever came to fruition so I had my last or my second child and that was 2008.

Anna & Selena:  It was 2008 when we were waiting for his arrival we started talking about it in the labor and delivery. I guess my dad and everyone whole family was there and we just kind of thought we should do this like we really should do this and now I’m going to have maternity leave and let’s do it.

Rachel:  That’s the ambitious, four boys, two boys and…

Anna & Selena:  This is what keeps us saying it’s like adult time it’s because… yeah a good reason to get together and focus on something else because of the time. There were time and we really enjoyed it so.

Rachel:  Good.  Well it sounds like it’s doing well so how do you decide to divide your responsibilities between the two of you.

Anna & Selena:  It’s interesting because we talk to people about that, about our businesses and some people have these schedules. So they’re like one Tuesday it’s Tuesday or Wednesday and we don’t really work that way and I think partly because maybe because we’re sisters, we just kind of go and it just seems like if I’m feeling like I’m not motivated at the time for some reasons she is motivated and so we haven’t really split tasks but we you know we both blog posts and sometimes I just feel like I can write a lot and I’ll do a couple of posts and then she’ll do a couple of posts.  But we don’t really planned who is the next person that’s going to do the post it’s just kind of comes together I don’t know what’s weird.

Rachel:  I know that’s good.  You have good synergy it sounds like… I wanted to talk to you little bit about do you have the idea, you had your friend come up with some designs, did you start with one design or did you design all of the gowns at the first time?

Anna & Selena:  We kind of started with one design like we knew that we wanted the backside to be covered. That was our number one priority because that’s what really lacks in a hospital gown.

Rachel:  Okay, yes I think it’s good stuff.

Anna & Selena:  It’s close to my mind good to stay like even the gowns that we both have in our hospitals they don’t cover at the back.  So, we kind of made one design and then we started we really didn’t know because we didn’t – we don’t really have a lot of experience so we started looking for a manufacturer and the woman who helped us design the gown told us that we were going to need like a pattern and so she made that for us and then we met with our manufacturer who really guided us.

Rachel:  Do you feel like the manufacturer kind of served as a mentor as well because you don’t have this background or…

Anna & Selena:  Yes. He is amazing like he’s been a huge support to us like he sat down with us when we first met with him and we brought our parents because….I don’t know why because it’s on…It felt good.

Rachel:  I love it.

Anna & Selena: And here we are 12 years olds but it was good because we really trust what they think and we still weren’t sure if we were going to go forward with the company.  And so when we left in, our mom and dad said you know he is really good and you should do it that’s all we needed to hear.

Rachel:  Wow, that’s impressive.  So, how many manufacturers did you look out beside before deciding on this particular one?

Anna & Selena:  Well, part of the learning process I mean we were very naïve so really we didn’t…We looked at one other. So we had maybe two.  But he is the only one that we met with and we…And we met with the other but she was…We did only one. She made us so realize how much we needed him. That was just a disorganized.

Anna & Selena:  Very disorganized that one was closer to home and but our current manufacturer is not very far from here just an hour and a half from where we live and he just was very down to earth, he has been in the business for ever he had written a book about how you, you know put a product together and the resources you need to be able to be successful and like handed us he was even though something he usually would sell.

And then along the way even now we’ll count for a different like we’re going to be doing around or something and he’ll be still spitting out advice to us and…

And he is probably a little bit higher price than some others but for us right now it’s completely worth it because and he has helped us get to where we are.

Rachel:  Right, that’s an interesting point that you made I mean I think that’s really important when you’re looking in when you’re new is to have people help you along the way and you have concentrate that can help consult with you and build help grow your business not just be a manufacturer…

And that sounds like it’s necessary even if you’re going to pay more in the beginning.  So, I guess that kind of takes me back I mean I’ll scoop back a little bit is what is one of other things when you first had the idea, did you – you just created a prototype right away or did you go formal round like did you say like I’m in to a business plan and figure out every costs that’s involved or everything I need to do.

Anna & Selena:  Not really.  We kind of just work for a goal and we just tried to use the most minimal resources as we could and that we kind of just slowly crawled and did the little steps we didn’t you know get a loan or anything like that like we both put some of our own money in to it a lot of really big chunk of our own money and then we had a family investor they gave us a little bit.  And so we kind of felt comfortable with that but it’s not like we have this project where we could you know we’re going to spend this much for this, this much for that kind of just it’s such a learning process that even just learn I mean I – the funny thing is that like I didn’t even realize that there is like fabric out there in the world that any business can take like I just was so naïve to this whole thing like there is fabric companies all over, you buy the fabric and you get a wholesale price and you can make your product and sell it like you’re selling a designer’s fabric and I mean I was so naïve, I didn’t even realize that, but then I look around and see the writers and I see some world class nothing really with our fabrics but I see other – I see multiple companies pulling from the same.  So, I mean, I don’t know, I’m going out, I want to change it now but …

Rachel:  Oh that’s tough.

Anna & Selena:  Something that it is like oh my gosh really.

Rachel:  No, but I think that’s interesting because you know you see the trends are I like I know you know flat every year, every season or whatever new fashionable trends come in and if you see it you’d start to noticing this in all the same stores like wow Zebra is really every one has the same Zebra.  So, that’s interesting though so then how do you decide so I heard you say before that you are – pat your designer major pattern so your pattern is then unique to your product so you’re not using….

Rachel:  A common fabric that people can buy.

Anna & Selena:  We do have some common fabric like there is a couple we have two gowns they are pretty exclusive to us and our Susan gown which is our zebra gown and that’s pretty exclusive to us because we had it actually reprinted for us it is totally discontinued. So, that was a big investment for us and that’s why I priced a little bit higher.

Rachel:  Oh interesting.

Anna & Selena:  Yeah, yeah and it’s a really nice fabric from our company.  And then we have another gown that’s secure and neighborhood fabric that is also not available and that’s our breast cancer gown and it’s I mean you’re not going to see anybody else probably with that.

Rachel:  Ready to know and learn and I mean that’s part of the process right when you’re starting a business especially I’m so impressed anyways with your whole business knowledge and all of this so it’s obviously you’ve learned a lot or…

Anna & Selena:  Well, I mean like Selena said before we are through goal two. And go out and get any kind of bank loan.

And maybe we tried when we do a run we kind of try and do what we think we’re going to need, we don’t do more than we need.  So, but yeah I feel like what the cost has been is kind of what we thought it would be.

But I think we could definitely have used a lot more money to like we don’t really have a lot of money for marketing.  So, we use a lot of other free resources to us like social media to help us out and that’s been tremendous for us and its helped us not have to spend a time yet on other marketing of course though if we could hire a PR person get ads in these big magazines that are thousands of dollars we would probably be selling a lot more but we’re okay with where we are right now.

Rachel:  Well that’s good that’s good.  Tell me a little bit about that, I’m so impressed I just want to tell our viewers and listeners that you have almost 2000 followers on Facebook and everything that you all Blog and write about is just you’re good writers first of all I think, I’m always fascinated by your stories, they’re always heartwarming whether if somebody delivering a baby or somebody that is suffering it’s just – it seems to really make a difference in peoples life it’s not just a fashionable product, it’s something that truly makes them feel better, I know, I had two emergency C sections and I didn’t have a – I didn’t know these gowns were around, I think it was actually well 2008.

And so yes and I just remember being absolutely mortified that a friend of mine who worked at the hospital came by to see me and I was like netting and you know and I had to go to the bathroom and you’re to so out of it on you know.

Painkillers and I just – I still have that vision in my head of that person look me walking to the bathroom and just see like oh my god really like I hope they forgot it.

Anna & Selena:  I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think.

Rachel:  It was but anyways let’s talk about you all.  So, okay so I’m going to start with – let’s start to see about social media.  Facebook and Twitter, how do you decide what to write about in Facebook and to Tweet about.

Anna & Selena:  Well, I don’t know I feel like its come pretty easy for us because when we understand the value of the social media and the thing with our company that we want to convey is that it’s about our customers the people who wear our gowns.  And so we just love to tell people stories and there are really great stories that we had come across you know we had a girl that actually lives in this area who was a teenager that had – she had a cardiac arrest her heart stopped while she was in a pool and somebody saved her by then CPR quickly.  So, a friend first bought her a gown because she was in ICU and she was in a coma for a few days and like to be able to share her story which she allowed us to do and her family and she was able to recover fully she has no side effects from her heart stopping and oxygen and all that, she is a normal teenager now so for that she has a defibrillator and so that it won’t never happen again.

But to be able to share her story and then we try and try things like how important it is to know CPR as of our nursing background I mean people got host saw about thousands abuse because it’s a great story it’s a well need story it’s a story about somebody who overcame a horrible event. And so we found that people love to read about other people.And so that makes Annie & Isabel we call all people our warriors and we really care about every single person that wears our gown.

Rachel: I know you can tell, you can tell.  Tell me a little bit more about I guess so you come across these stories and you write about them.  Do you have some sort of schedule, have you found, do you say like I’m going to tweet five times a day or I’m going to write one story a week or how do you manage that because you have so much other things many things going on.

Anna & Selena:  I mean, I think we always try to at least post like a testimony a week and it depends I mean usually we have one that we have amazing customers and with our sales we usually form some kind of relationship with these people because they’re like always been looking for you and then we like oh what’s wrong and hopefully we can provide them some support and then they wear the gown and then a lot of times they will write to us and tell us what difference it means.  So, we do usually have at least one testimony in a week.

Anna & Selena:  So, we try to do that like on a Wednesday that’s kind of been our sort of schedule.Nothing stepping stone we’re not like scrambling if we don’t have one…But and then with Twitter we’re actually trying to work on that a little bit more we want to able to may be schedule some more tweets and that could be like just some of our old testimonials which we did about recently and that was…And we’ve never done it before but we tried on Saturday in honor of our Private Practice debut.

Rachel:  Yes I want to hear that.

Anna & Selena:  We tweeted out like all the testimony — all the people who ever worn Isabel gown and they’re like to see [indiscernible] [00:17:39] which is great.

Anna & Selena:  And I think we are like 40 hits from Twitter so I was like great, like couple of people we tweeted it and so and thank you for your support always.

Rachel:  Right.  You know I always love – I love your stuff but I just always heart warming like oh nice story or just positive.

Anna & Selena:  Yeah, it makes like the birth of a baby is just so like pictures are just so amazing. And it just takes you back to you know it’s such a special moment and then when someone is sick and they get better or they’re fighting cancer so I mean just amazing like we can post the testimonial and then all these strangers will say like hang in there, great job and I mean I think that makes a huge difference in someone’s life that’s really suffering and thinking when someone is thinking of me and…Yeah, it’s nice.  It’s amazing.

Anna & Selena:  I think we use Twitter to a lot for and networking with people, it’s just an easy way to make contact with different people and you can find so many different amazing people on Twitter there is a lot of mom bloggers that are on Twitter and there is a lot of businesses that are on Twitter and I mean it’s for us you know it’s great to be on the network and make things out of it but I think we really enjoy also just connecting with other people and finding out what they’re doing that works but also even there is a sick networks of cancer patients on Twitter and people that are pregnant and whether they buy our gown or not we kind of it’s just fun to talk to them and see what’s going on in their lives, we’ve in October we were having kind of like a Wednesday warrior and these are just people that we found on Twitter that have really need stories coming through breast cancer or not but some of them have developed companies to help other people and it’s just really fun to talk about people like that.

Rachel:  that’s interesting I think that Twitter has proven to be I mean that’s how I met you all which is a fascinating that it’s how come we met in person and now we’re doing this and a year ago I had no idea what I always thought I was kind of push Twitter off to the side I just thought oh it’s just this huge echo chamber one person says promote something then it is goes through everybody but it’s so fascinating because when you start you find that you’re in a same circles whether it’s pregnant woman or moms tweets which is a lot of the stuff that I’m connected to.  You start seeing trends or oh well I didn’t know that or there has been a recall on you know some kind of…

Rachel:  Product that you have in your thinking oh my god well I’m glad I’m on here but I noticed with Twitter which I don’t know if you found too is that I’m just starting to post stuff about you know entrepreneurial moms do you want to be interviewed or what you know what do you have in and finding that even with the last interview that I posted I think it is kind of important it’s like things can get buried when you’re following so many people you don’t necessarily have all the time to go back so…

Anna & Selena:  It’s actually only last a couple minutes you know that was on it, who is going to see it and then it’s gone.So thing like posting even four times a day like your interviews or it would not be annoying because it’s just and that’s what we should probably do too may be not more time with our families.

Rachel: Maybe I should post this interview like 10 times a day for two months, okay so let’s get so Twitter I think the same thing we are saying is you could post it multiple times and then also Anna you were saying that it is a good research tool like you’ve been able to find different groups of people that you connect with and then see kind of what’s going on in their world.  So, I think that’s good okay let’s talk a little bit Facebook and I definitely want to get in to, I also want to tell everyone which you’re selling direct to consumer, you’re not in retail stores, everything you’ve done has been marketing online at annieandisabel.com which I’ll say again at the end and I’ll post it so people can take a look.  And we talked a little bit about Facebook so let’s talk about – that’s a – I feel like that’s a huge marketing win that Kate Walsh in Private Practice just wear your gown and she has been featured or other actress has been featured on Private Practice wearing your gowns.  So, I want you to tell us the story from the start of when you got the order how did they find out about it, tell us that whole story?

Anna & Selena:  It’s kind of a fun level story because it was completely unexpected.

Anna & Selena:  Just one day I was at my house, Anna was at her house and we were talking on the phone and I looked on the computer and like oh my gosh we just got an order for 6 gowns which you know is pretty impressive.  And so we were kind of talking about how do you think we can get it done today you know we’ll just do it tomorrow and then we hang up the phone and then Selena calls me back and she is like Anna did you see who that order was from, I said oh no.

Anna & Selena:  You know first I thought it was from a physician’s office because it said Private Practice and I said that is so amazing that there is a physician out there that wants to make her patients feel comfortable.

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Anna & Selena:  And so I called her to tell her that like Private Practice in LA that’s so great of course it’s in LA.  And then like our shop is like so who ordered and where it’s being sent and she looked over where it’s being sent, we all know the billing address.

Anna & Selena:  The billing address, yeah, it was what I looked at and it was ABC Studios.

Rachel:  Oh my god.

Anna & Selena:  We were like wait a second, this is the Private Practice, the show.

Anna & Selena:  And it was 4 o’ clock in the afternoon and then we looked at what they ordered as far as shipping and the first they ordered went shipping so we’re like oh my gosh it’s 4 o’ clock, how we’re going to get these out this quick.

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  So, I ran over to her house and we got it all packaged it out in the mail and it got there the next day and we were just …

Anna & Selena:  Now we can get signed to.

Anna & Selena:  But there was no email or anything from them it was they just ordered the gown so we were just kind of pens and needles of, I wondered what – how they’re going to be using this and so then we knew they got the gowns because we track it and then the next day after that they ordered 6 more and they were all that Isabel gown all just different sizes so that it fits.

Rachel:  Oh that’s so exciting.

Anna & Selena:  So we were like wow this is great because obviously they loved the gowns and bring six more and may be we were thinking well maybe it’s going to be their General Hospital Gown.

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Anna & Selena:  You know from other patients guessing what that would be used for but we never were really contacted by them and then…

Anna & Selena:  Well we were because she didn’t do the address on the second order so she emailed us and then we were like here is our chance like…

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Anna & Selena:  Well, she didn’t confirm because we were selecting that really from the Private Practice.  And she said in that email she said this is I just want to make sure you have the right address and this is for the show the Private Practice.  So we were like okay it’s really for the show.

And then you know we have to wait because that was in the summer they were filming on summer and then we waited but we totally were like oh you just sent our gowns and everyone got really excited on Facebook and talking it’s so funny because that’s the kind of thing that gets people really excited I mean it’s so exciting for us to it’s not really like our mission for our company but to have you know millions of people see that on TV.

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  Like we can buy that or we couldn’t.

Rachel:  Right.  I know so that’s amazing so how do you think they found out about you because you don’t do a lot of marketing I mean you do on Facebook and Twitter but you don’t — you’re not advertising right?

Anna & Selena:  Yeah, no I mean we redid our website this year and it’s much more like SEO friendly so I think and we are seeing a lot of orders come in from all over the United States they’re finding us through Google so like people are putting in customer hospital gown or designer hospital gown and then we come up so. Yeah, so I think that’s probably how they found us and I mean it’s such a compliment that they ordered so many.

Rachel:  Right.  And so what did you think when you – did you know was that so you to know it’s going to air and then it airs and where you – I know it aired a few weeks ago.

Anna & Selena:  Yeah, we knew when a premiere was so first…

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  And it wasn’t on the premiere and so we were like oh well may be they’ve decided that they don’t need our gowns totally think it’s that’s it.  And then we were both I think working…

Rachel:  Yes.

Anna & Selena:  The second show that came on the next week, it was sitting in the car I was just checking emails and how you get an email somebody writes on your wall for Facebook and it was somebody on the East Coast saying I’m watching Annie & Isabel Gown on Private Practice and I just have to wait for two more hours to see it so it was very exciting yeah.

Rachel:  That is so exciting, so then what you think came I know that it’s just been a last few weeks but do you feel like do you seen increase in orders or do you feel like it’s just running I mean people know your gown it’s signature as the lady bug which I love and a heart in it right.

Rachel:  Do you feel like you’ve seen anything happen just from the spike of the show.

Anna & Selena:  I think the first time it aired the first – we did get like more if you looked at the gown orders that week it was definitely more Isabel but it’s so I mean everyone will see is like oh that’s so great about Private Practice so I mean it’s not something that you like to spot them you don’t buy like I’m just not going to buy but it puts in someone’s head and then…

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  So I mean I would expect.

Rachel:  It’s great branding for you.

Anna & Selena:  And like I was looking in Google analytics and I definitely saw some searches saying Hospital Gown with ladybug.

Rachel:  Wow.

Anna & Selena:  So had to be from.

Rachel:  Right.  That’s so exciting.

Anna & Selena:  That’s somebody saw in the hospital and I didn’t want to ask whoever was wearing it but I mean I’m pretty sure it came from that.

Rachel:  Right, right that’s huge and I saw that like Bethenny Frankel from the Real Housewives of New York City.  So, tell me a little bit about that, can you talk a little bit about celebrity get it I know there is a million mom entrepreneurs and everyone just thinks if so and so just wore my gown or if so and so, so how did you proactively send these things to celebrities or…

Anna & Selena:  It’s I mean it’s just like with any smaller mom company you know you really have to pick and choose, you’re going to send to because that’s profit loss and but if someone did help you it would be huge you know so when we were first starting out I mean we went around but that long Bethenny was we like her and her show and we sent her a gown and she sent this really nice thing and I think people did get really behind that people did that’s the thing that they remember about a company you know.

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  But as we’ve gone along I think that the celebrity getting as you know kind of disappointed us a little bit because first of all they get everything for free which is great that’s who they are and…

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  But I just think you’re hoping for that big break in a lot of times you might not get it and then you’re disappointed and you know…

Anna & Selena:  You thought could I send it off and be like it’s – I didn’t do that you know and then…

Rachel:  Do you send it to…

Anna & Selena:  Yes.

Rachel:  Right.  So, do you send it to their publicists how do you find out where to send it to.

Anna & Selena:  Yeah, we sent to publicist and like Christina Applegate I was really excited to do her because we have our breast cancer gown and she is a breast cancer survivor.  And so I thought this will be the perfect person I like her, I like her shows you know I respect her let’s send it to her you know so we send it to her publicist and then we waited and waited and she is kind of be on Twitter and…

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Anna & Selena:  So, that’s the thing about Twitter you can you know tweet to these people I mean we just send probably how people running their accounts, you can tell who doesn’t like.  And so we tweeted to her and she said I got it and love them.

Anna & Selena: And that was it. So said help us she didn’t like there was no pictures of her and people with her gown on.  But like I don’t know and then you have to market that out?

Rachel:  Yes.

Anna & Selena:  You know which we didn’t really too much, I kind of equated to the lottery if you send it out a win that you might win and if you want it, it’s like winning the jackpot because the chance of it happening is pretty minimal.

Rachel:  Okay.

Anna & Selena:  And so that’s kind of why we sort of plan have been down about it lately because we just actually started a new program called the Feel Better Campaign and it’s a program where we will – we want to get – the problem with us is we’re nurses.

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Anna & Selena:  And we really care about people. We want people to get better and so when we hear stories you know it hurts we just want to give them a gown. And we would give away our business because we wouldn’t…

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  Take money, we will lose money.  And so an order it’s a kind of help us with that feeling.  We started this program where we’re going to give away three or four gowns a year to somebody that really needs a gown maybe they are going through a cancer diagnosis or if they could be in hospice.  So, whatever it might be we’re – we’ll give a gown to them.

And then people can nominate this person or so far it’s been people that we found just because we have to get more out there about our program so people know about it.  But we had a woman who has cystic fibrosis and she was calling us on Twitter and she was telling us how she was going to need lung transplant she is really this is an any of this low gown and host of things to get before that happens.  Then one that down Twitter, her sister tweeted for her saying that she had an ache and she was at the hospital and our hearts is like oh my goodness she never got her gown.

Anna & Selena:  She never got her gown.

Anna & Selena:  We can’t let her have those huge transplant.

Anna & Selena:  Which we know she’ll be in the hospital for a long time but in house she just despised hospital gown and she is really cute she used to wear trim tops to the ER…

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Anna & Selena:  Because used to wear a hospital gowns chronically saved her life.

Anna & Selena: But sometime didn’t get away with by a lot of times she can.

Anna & Selena:  And with her situation that she’s going to have to wear a gown.  So, we worked with her sister and sent her two gowns and she was kind of really what we call are first recipient really and she just was – she loved them she order them, her family member take the one home and wash it, while she was framed to other one, and really it made us feel like this is why we do our business now.

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  With look for celebrity how we put in to that.

Rachel:  I think that’s really true with your gowns and your products specifically I mean it really is like every story is great and I feel like so many people especially, I mean, I guess since I was a mom you know I haven’t gone through any of these other major diseases but I know that I’ve had friends who had breast cancer I know people that have been in the hospital and it’s hard it’s hard to deal with that and it’s like if you could just feel a little bit more normal or feel little bit better about yourself, it’s just, I just I love what you’re doing so I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that as an individual.  But I am picking things that I like.

Anna & Selena:  But I just wanted to say to you that real point of that whole story is that we get so much more out of giving the gown to a normal person that really and they really appreciate it.

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Anna & Selena:  And then we do to sending it to a celebrity that ultimately really doesn’t needed so much.

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  And I mean, yeah, it will help our business greatly and I’m not saying we won’t ever do it again.

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Anna & Selena:  But it’s just feels better as a company to give it to people that need it.

, no I think so…

Anna & Selena:  I appreciate it and like a lot of people we can support along the way you know like we tell their story and then our followers think about them or pray about them or donate to their cause, so I just feel like you’re doing some thing besides just selling a hospital gown so.

Rachel:  Right.  How I definitely understand that so I think it’s amazing you were men, sisters, nurses, I mean business partners, so I want to like I just talk a little bit about we’ve kind of gone through everything more you had your lipo movement obviously  you know why you wanted to be doing this.  I guess maybe talk about a challenge and then I want to kind of hear how you juggle it all with.  You know everything going on in your life, so, what would you say one of the biggest challenges was in regards to starting a business.

Anna & Selena:  That was a naivety, either I was had ever had.

Rachel:  Probably a good thing.  It really helped us.

Anna & Selena:  I know because now I think knowing what we know now. I think if you had told us in the beginning, I mean the money we’ve expected but if you would told us the number before we started maybe you would have been like no way I mean, I don’t really have permit room, like break room, like I need, which you know that would be nice.  But I think the time that we put into it is a lot you know it’s a lot on a daily basis.

But the good thing is we have each other so if I would recommend anything find somebody to help you along the way if you have a dream get them on board with your dream and maybe you both have it because we’re able to go on vacation because the other one will cover.  So, that’s huge because you might get an overnight order and you want to go away for your anniversary like I’m next week.

Anna & Selena:  I mean it’s just really nice to have someone to do it with.

Rachel:  Right.

Anna & Selena:  Well, so the challenge was obviously never having done this before and having to learn every step of the way on our own.

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Anna & Selena:  That’s was the hugest challenge we couldn’t even believe how much it took to put a company together just a start.

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Anna & Selena:  And to actually get it going.  That’s why its so great you’re doing this because we could have seen something or reached out to someone if anyone sees this they can reach out to us, I mean it’s we have no idea what we’re doing and I – you see these companies and you – and we do like a email companies now that we want to work with and make no response like how is that possible like know we respond to every single person and if we can’t work with you or we can’t give you a gowns review on your blog like we still going to write you back.  So, I think it’s daunting when you’re trying to think about starting a company but I think we moms stick together.

, thank you.  No,  yeah I’m, hoping too because you know I kind of have a side business too and it’s a same thing as I’m going through it I’m deciding do I want to manufacture a product like…

Rachel:  It does it take and I think the network support between moms especially that are doing this is phenomenal because we know we’re not 22 years old with all the time on our hand.

Rachel:  We’re trying to make it work with our family and your jobs and so tell me I guess a little bit about that, do you feel like your business is always on your mind, do you feel like how do you switch off on and off for all the different things that you’re juggling?

Anna & Selena:  It is a lot on our minds the only time I think maybe I’m not completely thinking about it is when I’m not at work.

Anna & Selena:  That’s very intense and we were taking care of patients but outside of that I think it’s probably on our mind most of the time.

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Anna & Selena:  And it is hard to juggle, I mean I have four boys.

Rachel:  Oh my god.

Anna & Selena:  With the age of 4 to 13 and they’re always full.

Anna & Selena:  They’re in sports.

Anna & Selena:  They are all in sports and so I have to juggle all their activities and also being able to spend some quality time with them as well with having to do this business which is pretty much all the time and I do various skill too, I mean there is times when I’m on computer at home and I think well I’m on the computer or I should probably be sitting down with my four year old and reading a book or something.  Sometimes I do, do that but there is nothing guilt factor but you just kind of like you do have to just try and balance at the best you can and I think it’s kind of nice actually to run a business with your kids seeing you doing that because they learn that well, they can see how that work that we put into it but they can also see the successes that we have and what it takes to run a business and the determination to make it work and all that I think it’s a good lesson for them.

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Anna & Selena:  Sometimes we put them to work sometimes.

.  Yeah, they could also you can really do that mine are so young I haven’t thought about that yet…

Anna & Selena:  I said in my oldest 13 one day I said maybe you’ll be a nurse or a doctor where when you grow up and he is like or maybe I’ll be running Annie & Isabel.

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Anna & Selena:  It’s definitely doable I think one of the biggest most important things that you should have if you want to start business is still believe in that product that your – I’m going to sell it because if we didn’t love the product that we were doing this wouldn’t be worth it.

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Anna & Selena:  You know I mean this is – that’s what keeps going is what that we love her product and the return we get from it.  I mean, we say constantly if somebody post a picture on our Facebook wall, they mean our gown or somebody writes to us to tell us the difference we made on their life, we constantly say oh my gosh that made our day, we don’t even care that we aren’t really making a ton of money at this point because this is what makes that worth it.

Rachel:  Thanks so much for sharing your story.  I wish you continued success.

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2 Responses to Interview: Anna Ryan & Selena Srabian, Founders, Annie & Isabel

  1. Inspirational women with a good idea and great hearts. Anyone who loves their sister will be envious of such strong personal and working relationships and anyone with a good idea should be inspired to follow and purse their dreams.

  2. I had no idea they were so new, they seem so established and present themselves so well! Another pair of entrepreneurs who really care about their products and the people who use them!

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