Inspired by her own experience of lower back pain and her frustration when her wheat bag would not stay in position, Julieanne Narbey set out to find a solution. After an unsuccessful search, she decided to design and create her own, and Wear Me Wheatbag was born. They produce wearable wheat bags that can be worn on a specific area of the body, with a design and shape that allows the wearer to continue to move around while getting the benefits of heat therapy. Each wheat bag is handcrafted in the Bay of Plenty from fabrics and fillings sourced in New Zealand. Here Julieanne talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind her products, the pros and cons of running her own business and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I was suffering from lower back pain at the time and was using my normal rectangle wheat bag, trying to hold it in place while I was still trying to work. This was so frustrating as it wouldn’t stay exactly where I needed it and I didn’t have time to sit with it on my lower back. Through this frustration, I thought wouldn’t it be great if I could find a wheat bag that was like a belt and I could strap it to my waist. I searched the internet to try find one but I couldn’t find one anywhere. Having plenty of sewing experience, I set about to make my own. After showing some friends, they commented how great an idea it was and how they needed a wheat bag for the neck and shoulders so I started designing some for them with the goal of the wheat bag staying in place while they moved about freely. This is how Wear Me Wheatbag was born.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
After showing friends and getting them to use my products. I decided to make some more and take them to our local markets in Papamoa and Mount Maunganui to validate my idea and see if the general public would be interested in such a product. The response was amazing. I had lots of people tell me that they needed this product in their lives and the sales began. I had many people sharing their pain points, so I went on to design and develop more products to be able to serve those people and to help them achieve some pain relief. The messages and emails I received from them telling me how their lives had become better due to managing pain easier, I knew I had to take these products to a bigger market, with an aim to help as many people as I could with their pain management.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
My biggest breakthrough would have to be when I built my website and launched my products on what was the NZ-made products Facebook page in 2020. It blew up and I sold out of my products numerous times. That’s when I knew I really had something that people needed and it felt so good to be able to serve and help people with their pain.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I run my business from home so I can work around my children’s events and school. My children and partner have helped me out at times and it’s given my children a look into working and business.