Lauren Lang tried kitchen clips, rubber bands and ties to keep blankets securely draped over her sons’ car seats to protect them from the sun, rain and bugs when they were being lugged around outside.
But nothing worked. Blankets would invariably end up soaked or on the ground.
The stay-at-home mom finally came up with an idea she calls “the Shade.”
Made of a stretchy Lycra blend, the Shade — which retails for $35 — fits over the top of a car seat without requiring snaps, buttons or wires that could get in the way. The fabric is chemical-free, provides protection from UVA and UVB rays, and is moisture-wicking, so that it dries quickly after getting wet.
“It is meant to replicate the cotton blankie that tends to fall off, get wet, stay wet and get dirty,” said Lang, formerly a vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle. “As with most products, it started from my own personal needs.”
It took about a year for Lang to design the product. By April 2012, she’d gone through nearly a dozen iterations before perfecting it. She then began showing it to friends and family.
“Everyone said, ‘But you can’t see the baby,’” Lang said. “And I said, ‘You’re right.’”
It was back to the drawing board at her Bethesda home. Lang came up with a mesh window that could be opened and closed with one hand and without the use of Velcro, which might awaken a sleeping child. Then she ordered 50 samples, and headed to the ABC Kids Expo, the largest trade show of its kind, in Louisville in October 2012.
“We took 50 with us, and came back with zero,” Lang said. “We left there with some orders and lots of interest.”
Things were looking good, Lang thought. She and her husband, Brian R. Lang, a partner at Guardian Realty Investors, had met retail representatives from around the country. They began placing calls in November.
“But everybody was in holiday mode,” Lang said. “Every retailer was like, ‘Don’t call us right now. We’re just focused on selling what we have.’ It was a bit of a hiccup early on in our marketing and sales strategy.”
Things have since picked up, Lang said. She has secured a design patent for the Shade, and is in talks with two major national retailers. The Shade is currently sold at boutiques and through Amazon.com.
Lang would not disclose financial figures, but said that several hundred items had been sold so far.
“I always had the itch to go back to work, but couldn’t find the right time to go into real estate,” said Lang, whose children are now 4 and 2. “Now this is my full-time job.”