Saved by Silicone

Have you ever lost your keys?  A good friend of mine tells the funniest story about a time that her 4 year old son didn’t want her to leave so he hid her keys.  She looked for hours.  She had to call and cancel appointments because she was completely stranded.  All the while her son plead innocence.  The elusive keys were finally found when the declaration was made that “whoever found the keys was going to get a huge ice cream sundae.”  Magically the keys appeared.  Needless to say the son got a lot more than an ice cream sundae that day.

Everyone has a story about missing keys.  It’s not until they are gone that you see how critical a role they play.  As a busy mom I always feel like I’m juggling a million different things in my hands trying to get out the door.   Usually a cup of coffee, a forgotten lunch box and possibly even a dog leash.  I’ll back up just a second to say that I love bangle bracelets.  Any color, any kind.  So when I saw some instagram pictures awhile back of soft bangle bracelet slash key chain in so many bright fun colors I had to learn more about this company, Bangle and Babe Bracelet and Key Ring.

If you are a reader then you know that I gave some as gifts to friends this Christmas.  Having a self confessed bamboo obsession I purchased one a week later in the new mint bamboo design.  Well, I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it has kind of changed my life.  Using a Bangle and Babe Bracelet and Keychain means I can find my keys faster and keep track of them while I’m out and about….because they are on my wrist…..not to mention how very cute it looks.  I decided I needed to meet the gal behind this business so we met up for a cup of coffee and man does she have a great story.

Ashley Jennings Seahorn is a South Texas girl through and through who grew up in Calallen.  She’s the most unlikely of accessory entrepreneurs having pursued formal training in Ag Science which led to an early career in Bovine Genetics.  She was living out of state after college but a series of events led her and her husband back to the Coastal Bend and they set up a home in Rockport.  They soon welcomed a little one and Ashley started looking for an easy way to carry her keys….and her babe.

She searched the web for hours but could not find what she was looking for: a soft, silicone key chain in fun colors.  There were metal mesh ones and there were rigid ones but nothing made completely out of silicone that could bend and flex like she wanted.  After searching and searching to no avail Ashley decided in 2016 to start pursuing the idea of manufacturing them herself.  I’m just going to pause in the story to say how impressed I am with anyone who walks that road.  Ashley had no experience in manufacturing.  No experience creating a product.  No understanding of the “lingo”.  She called every manufacturer she could find.  No one would call her back.  She kept pursuing.  She didn’t give up.  She didn’t get discouraged.

Finally in 2017 she connected with a manufacturer who agreed to create some samples for her.  She was overjoyed.  All her hard work was poured into the handful of sample bracelets she had stored in her house in Rockport in August of 2017……anyone see where I’m going with this?  On August 25, 2017 one of the largest hurricanes that has ever hit the Texas coast roared ashore making landfall in Rockport, Texas.  It never crossed Ashley’s mind to grab her samples when she was evacuating.  Her house was destroyed.  A friend of theirs was able to get to her home soon after the storm had cleared out and in trying to communicate the level of damage he said, “I don’t think you understand.  Your stove is next to your front door.”

But guess what.  Silicone can handle salt water.  That friend dug through the rubble of their home and found those samples no worse for the wear.  Ashley and her husband were homeless but the dream was still alive.  I’m not sure there could be a larger sign than that to continue pursuing an idea.  So that’s just what she did.  She moved forward with production and a few months later she was sending out her first orders.   Over a year later her business continues to grow and she now has expanded to sell her product wholesale.  She’s in 60 retail locations and also sells direct to consumers via her website and etsy page.  Bangle and Babe is now a world wide product.  That’s right.  She recently mailed one to Estonia, as in the country next to Russia.

Ashley was a woman with a vision.  She was persistent, courageous and steadfast.  All the things you have to be to start a business.  She kept moving forward even when a hurricane tried to stop her.  Now that my friends, is South Texas Strong.

 

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