Allison: This is The BusinessMakers Show, heard on the radio and seen online at TheBusinessMakers.com. I'm Allison Triarsi, thank you for joining us. With me today is Yamile Jackson, Founder, CEO of Nurtured By Design, an amazing company; tell us what you do.
Yamile: Nurtured By Design is a company that applies ergonomics engineering into the prevention of deficiencies that are commonly thought of due to prematurity. My own premature baby, my first child was born 12 weeks early, weighing less than 2 pounds and I wanted to leave something of me with him when I couldn't be in the hospital at night with him; he was hospitalized for 5 months. So I had this idea that if I could simulate my hand to leave it with him, that it had some weight and it had my scent - I slept with it to - to make - get it scented like me that it would help him, you know, be comfortable and help me be able to separate from him.
Allison: So with all of these challenges that faced Zachary, you came up with something to help him?
Yamile: I wanted to leave something of me with him. I didn't want him to feel abandoned or that he was alone so I created this glove which eventually was called a Zaky - because his name is Zachary - just so I could leave something of me with him. So I - you know, it has the shape of a hand, we have right and left hands and, you know, I would sleep with it on my chest to give my scent - I actually put it on my skin or behind the neck - so it will, you know, it will - it will keep the scent. I didn't know then that he knew my scent through the amniotic fluid, I learned that later. But my main concern was that he knew that I was there, that he was not alone because I know by - just by experience that if I feel scared I'm not gonna sleep. So I wanted to give that to him, I wanted to improve his environment and - and - and make sure that he knew that he had a mom; that he was - cause, you know, a hundred people touch him everyday, you know, how does he know I'm his mom? And it worked!
Allison: But the bottom line is you're a mom who created something for her son.
Yamile: I actually had - I have a PhD in Ergonomics Engineering and my first customer was my son that was born at twenty-eight weeks - twelve weeks early and so he was premature weighing less than two pounds. And he spent five months in the NICU - in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I mean he was supposed to be in the womb which is the most amazing, stress free, hurt free, pain free environment, now he's in the NICU where he's being touched by everyone, hurt by everyone and I wanted him to know that I was his mom, that he had someone that's rooting for him. So I made this little item for him - and actually it was for me too because I wanted to leave something of me with him.
Allison: And basically what we're talking about is a product - which is here, show everyone if you would - it's a simple product that does amazing things.
Yamile: It's a very - yes - it's a very simple it's kind of simulating - the idea was to simulate my hands so it has the shape of a hands, we have right and left hands actually and I slept with it on my chest and Larry, my husband, did the same thing to leave our scent with him.
Allison: Which is huge and there's actual research behind that, that baby can pick up on your scent.
Yamile: Yes, babies in the womb know the scent of the mom through the amniotic fluid. What we don't want is for them to forget that scent when they are born in a condition that they have to be separated from their moms. Babies need a sense of protection. Babies are just like you and me; if you are scared, if you are hurting, if you are under stress we - we don't sleep, but then we are telling these babies that they have to sleep even if we poke them and we hurt them and in an environment that they are not familiar with. So the Zakies actually were very good in helping him self regulate. So the nurses saw that and when I got home with Zachary they asked me if I can make the - you know, this version of the Zaky for the rest of the unit.
Allison: Did you have any idea that it would turn into the company that it has become; backed by research even?
Yamile: No, no, no, no. My first regional goal was to help one baby. I would be absolutely happy if I helped one family, one baby and now we have helped thousands of people. We sell the Zakies to 32 different countries.
Allison: Yamile, you went from taking this product and at some point you went retail with it, people like myself, both of my children grew up as babies born healthy, normal babies. They were able to have Zakies because there is that research that just says hey, this makes a baby more comfortable. But you went from the retail position with your company and then moved it and say, you know what, I'm gonna put these only in hospitals. Tell me about that change and why you made that.
Yamile: Basically the reason was because we looked at the evidence and we see that our company is much more than a product. We're doing research, we're doing product development, we're doing consulting, we're doing training, we're doing education, we're doing, you know, we're doing the whole system for developmental care for babies. Basically we started with NICUs and we moved a little bit out because it was what to market wanted. The reason we went toward retail is because the nurses wanted the Zakies for their own babies at home which were healthy. So we opened our website, an online store, I went to a couple of tradeshows and we had 250 stores selling the Zakies. I was making money, but it was not what was really my passion which is help babies in the condition of Zachary and have the future to be as bright as Zachary's is.
Allison: How much time have you spent doing all of this Yamile, because you know, to hear - to hear you speak you are such an expert and you know so much about children now.
Yamile: Yes, I have to say I have spent 11 years looking at all the research happening, learning about what the baby needs, how can we involve the parents in an effective way in the care of these children, even when they're away because that's the thing.
Allison: So you took your passion, is it turning a profit for you?
Yamile: Yes but I don't do these for money. I mean I want it to be a successful business and - but the impact that we're having in thousands of lives around the world is more than anybody can pay me.
Allison: And you have thousands of examples of that.
Yamile: Oh yes, and we love it.
Allison: So what's next? You've spent the last 11 years doing this, Zachary is an amazing young little boy who has spawned this company for you, your son's doing fabulously well, growing up and you're still toiling at this what is next?
Yamile: Zachary is out CIO, he's our Chief Inspirational Officer and I actually made business cards for him. I think our next step - I was recently - this year actually - accepted as a client for the Houston Technology Center. What we want is to, you know, they're helping me accelerate growth and we are in the Life Scineces branch of The Houston Technology Center. We're working on, you know, more research, more, you know, more of a technology company instead of a baby product company.
Allison: Yamile Jackson, you're an inspiration, thank you for coming here, thank you for sharing your story. We'll continue to watch what you do and how you grown.
Yamile: Oh absolutely, thank you. Thank you for having me.
Allison: And this is The BusinessMakers Show, heard on the radio and seen online at TheBusinessMakers.com.