Bettendorf mom turned social entrepreneur says she's sold thousands of Willey Bandz
Like many inventions, this was developed as a solution to a problem.
"Probably around 2013,14 I was doing CrossFit and I couldn't find a comfortable headband that fit they all either slipped off or gave me a headache. So eventually went and grabbed some fabrics and messed around with shapes and designs and came up with the design for
and it worked great for my workouts," says creator Julie Willey.
"It's got a curved edge that you wear towards the back and you put it on your head and they're knit material and you just tie it in the back. They're all made of a variety of knit materials so I feel they're more absorbent than a lot of exercise headbands,' says Willey.
Julie started wearing her headbands to the gym and "slowly friends and people that I worked out with started asking where I got my headband."
So she started making them for her friends and says it made her feel good to see others wearing her design at the gym.
"One of my friends Erin Kelly she came to me and said would you ever be interested in working together if you made some headbands we could do a fundraiser for two kids who have mitochondrial disease," says Willey.
Willey initially made 50 headbands for the fundraiser and says they were all sold in a week. And the demand kept coming.
Back in 2014, Willey was a stay-at-home mom. And she thought that after youngest started kindergarten she would go back to being an occupational therapist. Her kids who were very young at the time though it was cool there mom was hand stitching headbands and told her "you should start a business."
Willey says one of the kids in the neighborhood left a logo design in her mailbox. She says so many people believed in her and her product when she didn't. So she took a leap of faith.
"I told my mom I've been getting all these signs and all these people are believing in my product and me more than I am, and I said this February I'm going to believe in myself and my product," says Willey.
Since the 2014 fundraiser, Julie says she's sold thousands of Willey Bandz.
"In the month of June I've sold 500," she says smiling.
And she says the charitable aspect of her first major sales are still a part of the product's mission.
"I continue to find so much joy in being able to donate to local organizations that support kids and families," says Willey.
Willey says she never saw herself as an entrepreneur. Even when so many others including her children did. And now she says seeing what she's accomplished makes her feel "proud."
Willey Bandz hopes to expand outside of the Quad Cities and says they're working on scaling up in order to fulfill the demand that would come with that. But here in the Quad Cities, they can be found at Craft of Quad Cities, Freight Farmer's Market, Tapas Hot Yoga, and Fresh Blends.