Inspire us with your Northern Michigan INVENTION!

Meet: Brittany Luea

Inventor. Entrepreneur. Architect. Owner of ComenityMED, LLC.

Brittany Luea, inventor of medical women’s foot supports, produced by ComenityMED LLC. Photography by Scarlett Piedmonte Photography.

Meet Brittany Luea: Inventor, entrepreneur, architect, and owner of ComenityMED, LLC

Brittany Luea is looking out for females across the country with her latest invention, silicone foot supports. Sounds glamorous, right! Well, she invented these foot pads to make your yearly woman’s visit a little bit more comfortable. Find out more about the details of her story and process in the interview below. In addition to her impressive professional endeavors, she is a wife, a mom, and a dog mom of two. She always makes time for yoga, loves to read, and is an avid volunteer in the community.

Brittany Luea’s Foot Supports, produced by ComenityMED LLC. Photography by Scarlett Piedmonte Photography.

Brittany, what is your 30 second elevator story of who you are and what you do: I’m always fascinated by the question, “What do you do?” By trade, I’m an architect, but recently shifted gears to focus on co-founding comenityMED®, an innovative medical accessories company aimed at Pursuing Patient Comfort. comenityMED® manufactures patent pending Resilient® Professional Foot Supports for exam table stirrups that provide patient comfort and are easily sterilized between patients.

What makes you passionate about your product? I’m passionate about our product because it solves a simple but broad reaching problem in healthcare. Often times, medicine is not associated with comfort. Our products offer an alternative to traditional medical design that focus more on ergonomics. I love to make things and solve problems and by teaming up with a physician, we’re able to utilize our skills in medicine and design to provide innovative medical solutions. 

How did you develop your idea? It’s kind of a funny story, but it all started with a simple dinner conversation. My friend, Autumn Bridger DO, shared an idea she had for exam table stirrup covers and we spent the evening brainstorming about materials and how it could work. I was excited that she wanted to team up with me to make it happen! Although it took a few years to bring it from concept to product, we knew that evening what we wanted it to be. We utilized 3d modeling and printing for a few of our prototypes, then eventually made a steel mold that we now use for our finished silicone products.

What is it like to run a small business out of Northern Michigan? I love it! I absolutely love living in Northern Michigan. Our products are available online and our distribution center is here in town. The best of both worlds! 

Tell us about what you are looking forward to in the future. I’m looking forward to life after the pandemic. It’s been a great time to reflect and consider what direction we want to take going forward as a business. Based on the success of our first product, we know that our idea of providing serializable medical equipment that focuses on Pursuing Patient Comfort is here to stay! 

How do you balance family and running a small business? It’s definitely a balancing act. My primary focus is always my family, but I’ve set up my work life in a way that allows me to enjoy the benefits of both. 

How have you handled the current pandemic and Michigan Stay-at-Home orders? During the pandemic, my partner, Autumn, and I raised money to help provide over 700 masks for our community.  Juliette at Posh in Traverse City helped to sew the majority of these (she deserves tons of credit here!) along with my business partner, Autumn. I gathered materials locally and along with Autumn, worked on fundraising. A team effort with great results!

Brittany Luea is a licensed Architect in the State of Michigan. She received her Master of Architecture with Distinction as well as her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The University of Michigan. Brittany loves all things creative and innovative. Find more information about her Traverse City based company,  ComenityMED, LLC on their website: www.comenitymed.com  Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @comenitymed

Inspire us with your Northern Michigan success story!

Meet: Kristin Bauman

CRNA, Medial Entrepreneur, & Small Business Owner at April Surgical Products LLC

Meet: Kristin Bauman, owner of April Surgical Products LLC

She is a mother to five young boys, she keeps people alive for a living as a full-time CRNA (Nurse Anesthetist), a medical inventor, and a determined entrepreneur. Kristin Bauman, owner of April Surgical Products, is an inspiration to just about everyone in her life. After many years of working in the operating room, she had a vision to develop products that would improve patient safety while in surgery. Her first product, VisiWrap, a foam-based face protector that shields patients while in robotics surgeries. Her multiple products have been proudly manufactured in the United States since the start, and recently she made the investment to move her manufacturing to Traverse City, Michigan. Go, Kristin! We asked this visionary a few questions about how she juggles it all and makes it look so easy! Here is what she said: 

MEET KRISTIN: 

What drives your passion for the medical business?

I love being a nurse and providing anesthesia. I believe strongly in advocating for patients when they are under anesthesia. My products are safety positioning products that protect the patients face during surgery.

How did you come up with your product?

Seven years ago, we began robotic surgical procedures at our local hospital. I noticed in certain procedures the arms of the robot would swing very close to the anesthetized patients face. My anesthesia colleagues were starting to use a variety of different make-shift ways to protect the face. I would make my own and thought it worked pretty well. I was encouraged by Dr. Bill Nowak (a well-known robotic surgeon) to try and develop the product further and bring it to market. In 2013, that product became the VisiWrap. Visi stands for Visibility, Innovative, Safety, Implementation.

What is the secret to running a small business in Northern Michigan?

Running April Surgical Products in Northern Michigan is extremely fulfilling. We are surrounded by such positive and supportive small businesses throughout this community. Everyone is always networking and trying to help each other grow and become successful. I am part of a woman in a business group called Running in Heels, we meet monthly and discuss our small businesses. We set goals and hold each other accountable. We have zoom meetings and help each other brainstorm new ideas of how we can all help our community during times of struggle. It’s just a really incredible place to live as an entrepreneur.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

2020 is a big year for April Surgical Products! I have moved my manufacturing to Traverse City, currently working with Grand Traverse Industries. This has been a dream of mine for the last 5 years and it’s finally happening. Grand Traverse Industries provides advocacy, employment, and training support services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help them achieve their highest level of independence. I am excited to have the manufacturing right here in my back yard. I love that I can stop at any time and help out and just get to know these incredibly hard-working individuals better. I have opened up distribution to two companies. KLM Medical Equipment is handling sales throughout the United States, while RSS Medical Distributors is handling sales throughout all governmental hospitals. Both April Surgical Products are made here in the United States and that is something I’ve been really proud of.

How do you balance a large family with running a small business?

Balance in life is something I believe we are all working on. First off, I am a Mother to five incredible boys. Children are the greatest gift and the best reason to work this hard at my small business. They ask why we work so hard at this and I say, “just trying to send you to Notre Dame guys.” The kids watch us work hard at this and they love seeing which state the product is going to. My husband, Matt, is my best friend and a huge reason I can do any of this. He is the brains behind the marketing, QuickBooks, shipping, etc. I also work full-time as a Nurse Anesthetist for Traverse Anesthesia Associates. They truly are my work family and some of the greatest minds behind why the VisiWrap products have come this far. My colleagues have all tried them, asked for changes to be made, etc. Our surgeons have also been instrumental in developing and supporting the VisiWrap products. The ultimate way I find balance is my strong faith in God. Every day is a new day, a chance to pray more, respond to struggles and hardships with more grace. A chance to be a better wife, mom, friend, and colleague. There are days I fail at the balance. The older I get, the more forgiving I am with myself and more motivated I am to try harder the next day.

Can you share a piece of advice with readers? 

If you have an idea for a small business…. GO FOR IT! The process can be intimidating and overwhelming at times. Patent bills, prototyping, finding the right place to manufacture, setting up distribution, keeping cost down…it’s all hard work. Nothing happens overnight.This Northern Michigan Community has people everywhere that want to help and support you. The banks work with you, patent experts work with you, businesses work to support you. TC NewTech is a great resource. Just go for it!

www. aprilsurgical.com Instagram:@aprilsurgical  

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