Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Misty Dupree and I own Medical Bag Tags, LLC. I create customizable medical and allergy awareness bag tags for your purses, backpacks, lunch boxes, and more! I desire to help bridge the gap between the medical community and everyday folks by raising awareness of medical and allergy conditions. My Bag Tags can help in emergencies where someone may not be able to speak for themselves.
These Bag Tags are not only functional, but they are cute too! In a time when children are bullied about anything, I would rather them carry around a cute keychain explaining their medical condition instead of them having to be set apart by having to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace made from metal.
I started Medical Bag Tags, LLC in October 2018. Shortly after I started my business I was hit with the loss of a child, and within 3 years I managed to also go through the loss of a marriage, endured a year of covid, became a single mom to my 8 beautiful children, and moved cross-country back home where I would have the support I needed to get back on my feet.
During the darkest of dark days, I managed to keep my business afloat, getting small orders here and there. I did manage to pull myself out of the muck and get my LLC and Registered Trademark too. I am now on the other side of the years of pain and am looking forward to putting more time into my business and seeing it grow.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Christmas of 2016 I was hit with a major life-altering realization. I did not know who I was anymore. I did not know who I was outside of being a “wife” or “mom”? After you have had 8 children and have been pregnant or nursing for 10+ years you tend to lose all sense of direction. I got stuck in a very hard, yet beautiful cycle of mothering. This realization began a long hard journey of finding my worth, calling, and ultimately finding joy in life again.
What I did not expect, was that while I was thriving and becoming more passionate and driven inside, my outside world was crumbling. Through these crazy ups and down years of motherhood, I found my grounding in creating. Specifically sewing and embroidery. I would try to sneak away as often as I could to do something creative. Unfortunately, most of the time it was between the hours of 9:00 pm and 4:00 am.
I did everything from making boutique children’s clothing, creating gifts for babies, making and selling tutus, beanbag tuffets, and more. At some point, I realized that I really did not have an extra 10+ hours a week to do the boutique clothing or sew the larger projects that take forever to make. I needed to find something that I could make start-to-finish during nap time. I began to value sleep more than success! I began being a bit choosier with my projects and tried my hand at embroidered key chains.
I was HOOKED immediately and never looked back. I don’t even recall what my first key chain was, but I made everything from llamas, doughnuts, to teacups and more. With no real sense of direction, I just made keychains on a whim.
That was the case until I was attending an Open House at the kids’ school later that year. I noticed a sign on one of the doors that said there was a student with a severe peanut allergy in the classroom. My mind started rolling. I remembered that I had a peanut design that I had used before on a onesie. I took that design and turned it into my first Medical Bag Tag!
A couple of days later at the school, I saw a dad carrying around a gallon size Ziplock bag with a crumpled-up Epi-Pen box inside. Honestly, it looked like it had been in the bottom of a backpack for two years. This image really struck me. What would have happened had that little girl had an asthma attack or gotten stung by a bee, etc. Would the emergency personnel have known to dig to the bottom of her backpack or even known that there was an Epi-Pen nearby? I made a vow that day to change this scenario.
There had to be a way to help ensure that no one would have to wait or suffer while someone was searching for an Epi-Pen. I had to create a product that alerted those around not only of the medicine on hand but what the medication was for. And this is how Medical Bag Tags, LLC was born.
Starting a business from scratch, without funding or much support has been a hard road to travel, but it’s certainly worth fighting for. Knowing how many lives could be touched by my products and how much peace could be given to parents when they are away from their children is priceless. Kids who have medical conditions or a severe allergy are oftentimes found in a compromised situation. My tags are made large enough that someone nearby can see and assess and hopefully get the right help sooner than later.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The beautiful thing about creating medical and allergy bag tags is that the options are endless. Every person has conditions and allergies specific to them. Once I come up with a design, I create it with my design software and then take it to my embroidery machine and stitch it out. When I first began, I was running on a single needle embroidery machine and hand-cutting all my bag tags. I soon found out that this would not fly. I leaped faith and invested in a 6-needle embroidery machine and a small hobby cutting machine to speed up the process.
I pretty much started with/from nothing. My goal was to run my business without going into debt. However, I came to a pivotal moment in my business where I had to decide to invest/upgrade or quit. I am NOT A QUITTER, so went ahead and made the first investment to set me on a new trajectory. I purchased a 6-needle machine and a hobby cutting machine.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching my business has been a challenge and it’s something I work on daily. Because I was having to do this without any support, I just sort of jumped in with two feet and hit the ground running. If you tell me that I can’t do something, it ignites a passion in me that drives me even more to succeed. Success has been very slow going because as soon as I launched I lost a child, and then eventually lost my marriage so I don’t really feel I’ve actually really launched it officially or been in a position to make huge strides. It’s okay as I know that this is part of my journey and ultimately everything happens in the Lord’s timing.
As far as setting up an online presence, I just jumped in. I guess I’m more of the mindset that I learn better fiddling with something rather than taking the time to sit down and take a class to learn how to do something, etc. I set up a Facebook page first, and then an Etsy shop. I have been accepted to and have a Handmade on Amazon site, have my .com as well.
I created my branding on my own originally using Canva but recently decided I needed to step up my game and use a professional to help truly gather the feeling behind my brand and start fresh.
Here Is the old:
And here is the new:
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this process is…If you believe in your brand, and are passionate about it, fight for it. Go Big or Go Home. I’m in this to succeed. And I will succeed. Remember that success looks different from others. My success isn’t the same as yours. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to keep my business running (even if by a thread) through the last three years of turmoil.
Also, sometimes it is better to pay someone to do something for you. OUTSOURCE anything you can. Time is money. Since I am balancing being a single mom of 8 kids, working my business after hours, and working outside the home as well, I have found that paying someone to do even the smallest of things to push your business forward is well worth it cash.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Get seen. Get out in the community. Have a face in the community. With online sales, it’s mostly done. Don’t be afraid to ask. They will either say yes or no. You would be surprised how much business you can get just by simply starting up that conversation.
Find the businesses that would be great partnerships with you. Ask if you can put products in their stores, or set up a table on the weekend to interact with the customers, etc. I tend to visit Allergy Clinics, Pharmacies, Schools, Daycares, etc. These are places that my Medical and Allergy tags would be of great benefit.
Listen well. For instance, in my case, if I am at the grocery store and overhear someone asking for the gluten-free section of the store, I might stop and engage with them asking if they have a gluten allergy or wheat allergy. Or if I see an autistic child, I might go and talk to the parents and learn more about their needs, or ways that I could help with raising awareness.
Learn a lot. Find your community of other businesses that are on the same page as you. Work together. We all can use a little help from time to time. But make sure that you give to this community and don’t just take.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’m now on the other side of my three years of grief and pain. I’m super excited about what is to come for Medical Bag Tags, LLC. I’m in talks with a possible Pharmaceutical Investor who would be able to help take my business to the next level.
It is my greatest desire to have Medical Bag Tags in pharmacies across the nation. When someone walks up the counter to get their medication, I want them to be able to grab a tag or a coupon to come to my shop and buy their medical tag.
My BIGGEST DREAM is to partner with EpiPen! I want every box they produce to have one of my bag tags in it with a coupon to come shop at medicalbagtags.com so they can get their personalized medical or allergy tags.
I’m working on launching products for Tracheotomy Patients, working on products for Insulin patients, and have hopes of partnering with Awareness groups to raise funding for their foundations. (i.e. Breast Cancer Awareness, Infant Loss Awareness, etc.).
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR BRAND. It takes 100 no’s sometimes before you get a yes. Ask until you are blue in your face. Let go of perfectionism and just take the first step. Your first steps will be unstable, and it’s okay. I’ve had my own business(es) now for 15 years and just yesterday I did my first video submission. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Granted I didn't do it live, but I DID IT! And I submitted it without doing it over and over and who cares if my hair was out of place, etc. Be Real, Be Raw, Be You! Do not be ashamed of who the Lord created. He made you a beautiful soul.
Let go of perfectionism and just take the first step. Your first steps will be unstable, and it’s okay.
Always remember that your journey is yours, not someone else’s. Success to me was submitting a 40-second video. To someone else, it may be a 6-figure income. Also, remember that even 6-figure sellers deal with the same things as those of us who make only $5,000 a year. They still get bad reviews, they have to tweak their SEO to be found, they still have to juggle whether or not it’s a good time to launch a new product or buy a new piece of equipment. They are real people.
As a small business, we tend to look up to these folks as “celebrities” and forget that more than likely they started their business in their home as well, and have been pushing and growing for years. Most businesses don’t succeed in the first few years…it sometimes takes 10 years before you see “large success”. DON’T GIVE UP. STRIVE FOR GREATNESS. BE HONEST. BE REAL…AND ENJOY THE PROCESS.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
For Education/Moral Support:
makeandflourish.com (AKA “Flourish”)
“We aren't just a business school, we are so much more than that. We are a community of creatives who understand what it's like trying to build a business from things we make. Starting from scratch, with nothing to our names but some yarn, fabric, vinyl, beads, or wood. We GET IT! We can help you strategize and form a plan to streamline your processes and build a life you love.”
pressforsuccess.com (AKA “PR School”)
“As a prep school student you get 24/7 access to benefits including self-guided video classes, exclusive interviews, pr boost challenges, weekly office hours with replays, media Rolodex builders, pr opportunities and leads, accountability and support from a pro pr team plus our on-the-edge-of-their-seats-to-cheer-on-your-wins community of business owners from around the country focused on growth and press success just like you!
“The Social Sales Girls’ Inner Circle is a community built with a clear path to success and actionable lessons for business owners who want more traffic and sales on Shopify. You need to show the world that you’re serious about building your Shopify store. And you’re tired of messing around with complicated marketing strategies and gambling on ads that don’t work.
All while you’re trying to stay calm as you watch your competitors rise to success. You simply want someone to tell you what steps to take to get results.”
“Are you new to Handmade at Amazon? Do you want to learn more about what this platform is about and what success you can find on it?
I am inside our Facebook Community day in and day out, providing Live videos, answering questions, and cheering each member on as they grow their shops and sales!
Every day, a close community of seasoned and newbie Handmade at Amazon sellers comes together to post questions, brainstorm, and provide teaching and guidance.”
I’m still very much in the beginning stages of my business and I’m learning new things daily. By using the above websites/communities I always have someone to talk to. Someone to hold my hand when I’m scared to take the next step. Community is KEY!
For Embroidery Design:
For Digital/Marketing Materials:
For Website Domain/Hosting
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favorite author, speaker, podcasters:
Author/Speaker/Podcaster: Jamie Ivey
Although not business-related per se, she is a great motivational speaker who encourages women to find their calling and live it out unashamedly. Even if you have gone through hell and back God IS still there and is a redeeming God. You will get through.
Speaker/Podcaster: Porsha DaNae Cole
She is a Mindset Embodiment Business Coach. She guides influential women to move past their crap and embody their highest selves.
Spiritual Joy Coach: Jenna Riser
Jenna is a Spiritual Joy Coach and her deep passion is helping women become fully aligned in mind, body and soul so they can fully be ALIVE!!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
This is your journey. You get to write the story. You can set yourself up for success and achieve anything you set your mind on. If 20 people tell you that you are out of your mind for wanting to do something, but you feel 100% deep in your soul you need to do that, then by golly DO IT! Do not let someone else’s negativity stop you from doing great things.
And just to reiterate, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR BRAND. It takes 100 no’s sometimes before you get a yes. Ask until you are blue in your face. Let go of perfectionism and just take the first step. Your first steps will be unstable, and it’s okay. I’ve had my own business(es) now for 15 years and just yesterday I did my first video submission. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Granted it wasn’t live, but I DID IT! And I submitted it without doing it over and over and who cares if my hair was out of place, etc. Be Real, Be Raw, Be You! Do not be ashamed of who the Lord created. He made you a beautiful soul.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m looking for partnerships with other organizations to grow Medical Bag Tags to a new level.
As a new company, I may not have the funds to outright pay someone for their services but I’m willing to barter. I’d love to work with a VA who might need some medical or allergy tags, or who might like some Awareness keychains for their favorite foundations or say a group who is cheering on a cancer patient.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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