New purses from Park City startup are made to block cell phone radiation
It all started when Hollye Shepherd was pregnant with her second child.
She was working as a property manager of a nightly rental unit at the time, and the near-constant presence of her phone bugged her. Concerned about possible health risks from the radiofrequency emitted from cellphones, she chose to not take any risks with her child.
She scoured the internet to find a product that could reduce her phone’s energy emission, but discovered few products, especially for women. With her entrepreneurial mindset, she started looking into the possibility of making a product herself. She talked to friends, and many said they would buy a product if Shepherd made it.
She was nervous at first — she did not know how to sew and knew very little about fashion — but she decided to give designing a purse a try. Her husband bought some fabrics and they cut out basic patterns and brought them to a seamster in Austin, Texas, where they were living at the time.
Four weeks later, they had a prototype that Shepherd said was too floppy. She then contacted a company in Vietnam and waited three months for another product that she did not like. Frustrated, she tried out companies in New York and San Francisco. Finally, she settled on a prototype from a factory in Mexico.
It was a challenge to be patient, her greatest obstacle so far for the business, but she said landing with a purse that checked all of her boxes was a “complete relief.”
The purses are made of a hybrid metal fabric that Shepherd said reduces the phone’s radiofrequency. It can be worn as a cross-body bag, clutch or hip pack. The outer casing is made of leather or cork.
Despite some of the setbacks, Shepherd said she is glad to be starting LyLo Design, which is something she always dreamed of. She managed her own photography business for 14 years before transitioning to be a property manager.
She enjoys the creative process of designing bags and taking the photos for promotional material for LyLo Design.
The flexibility of the career is great as well, she said. She has three children, and as soon as they go to sleep, she jumps on her computer to get as much work done as she can. Though things have moved slowly — she started working on the product two and a half years ago — it is a balance she is happy to maintain.
Plus, it has been fun to teach her daughters about the work she is doing and to channel their own creativity.
“I’m glad that I can inspire them as women to be entrepreneurs, and I hope that as they grow, they see the importance of what I am doing,” she said.
Shepherd said her desire to help people is what drives her. She wants people to be aware of the radiofrequency their phones emit, but not to always worry about it.
“The whole point of this is to protect people, and that has been what has fueled me this whole time,” she said.
And it has been fun to see her business take off. Currently, she is doing a KickStarter campaign to spread awareness of her company and raise money to launch the product. She has already surpassed her goal of raising $12,500, and the campaign still has about two weeks to go.
Shepherd said other startups in Park City have been supportive as well. When she moved here a year and a half ago, she sought out the entrepreneurial network PandoLabs, and she said meeting with other entrepreneurs and having them check up on her made her more accountable for her progress.
Once she gets her feet under her with more products and styles, she plans to pay it forward by helping other startups.
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Another ski season is in the books, and much to the relief of the restaurant industry, the outlook, like the weather, is looking sunny.