We at Milk Nursingwear love hearing about new businesses started by female entrepreneurs. Establishing and operating your own business is a challenge – combine that with raising a family and you have quite an undertaking.
We are highlighting Michele Ostahowski and her business, Cozy Gozy® Travel Capes. Michele is a mother to 3 children – Harper (4), Hudson (2), and Ledger (1-month) and wife to Brandon. The Ostahowski family is from Midland, Michigan.
I am an ER Registered Nurse and worked in a busy trauma center before becoming a stay at home mom. Working 12-hour midnight shifts without breaks is easier than persuading toddlers to eat their dinner.
Please tell us about Cozy Gozy® Travel Capes and how they work.
Cozy Gozy® Travel Capes are a safe, convenient and cute alternative to the bulky winter coats in car seats. Our capes are made of high quality double layered fleece that lay over the child in the car seat and do not interfere with the safety harness. Once outside of the car, the cape wraps around the child and secures in back for easy walking – or pre-walkers can be easily carried while wrapped in the cape. Cozy Gozy® Travel Capes are not only safe to use in car seats but our cute prints get a lot of attention.
How did you come up with the idea of the Cozy Gozy® Travel Capes? Did it filled a need?
As a first time mom, I paid close attention to child safety recommendations, especially the risk of heavy coats in the car seats. There weren’t many other options available, and I dreaded the idea of taking my daughter’s coat off every time I buckled her into her seat. I created a customized car seat cape for my daughter so her hands were free to hold onto her toys while I easily wrapped her up for the cold Michigan weather. Once in the car seat, I throw the back of the cape over the back of the car seat and safely buckle the harness so I’m reassured nothing is interfering with the straps. Originally I had the cape just wrap around the child to easily carry them but I later attached Velcro so the child could also walk with the cape on as well. Cozy Gozy® Travel Capes definitely supports the car seat manufacturers recommendations for properly fitting harness straps and safety in the event of an accident.
I have always wanted to be a mom, not necessarily a business owner. Immediately after making the cape for my daughter, we had an overwhelming response from moms stopping us in public asking us where we got our cute cape. As I began to explain it’s implications as a car seat cape, I realized a majority of people were not well educated on car seat safety. People were intrigued and I felt an obligation to help education other moms.
Doing simple every day tasks with kids can be tough, and starting a business with young children can be especially challenging. I’ve learned to multitask and take advantage of every free nap time minute. I’ve also found creative ways to allow them to ‘help’ Mommy (and some times a little bribery to get me through an important phone call ;)) More importantly, having a supportive and encouraging husband is indispensable.
The biggest challenge so far has been making a high quality, American-made product that is also affordable. Business expenses add up quickly, but car seat safety is so important we would like everyone to be able to purchase a Cozy Gozy® Travel Cape. We are proud supporters of “Made in USA” and we refuse to compromise the quality of our product.
Believe in your passion and don’t get discouraged. I recall at least three occasions that seemed impossible to continue in our business adventure. My husband and I would spend days coming up with new plans to overcome each obstacle and they actually ended up making our product even better. “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty” -Theodore Roosevelt