Today we’d like to introduce you to Kara Froula.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Just over 11 years ago, I arrived in Los Angeles from my hometown, Nashville, TN. I was greeted at LAX by a woman I had never met before who was waving and holding a sign with my name on it.
I had 30 days of sobriety under my belt, which at the ripe age of 26, was the longest time I had gone without a drink that I could remember. Little did I know at the time, LA would be my final destination and the birthplace of a spiritual awakening I would soon be ready to embrace.
My initial plan was to get away, get some professional and spiritual help and learn a new way of being in the world on a clean slate in the beautiful City of Angels. I took a leave of absence from my accounting job in Nashville, a leave from which I would never return.
Yes, I had come to LA for the sole purpose of getting sober, but I would later realize that it wasn’t really my sole purpose, it was my SOUL purpose.
A stark departure from my previous corporate life of pencil skirts, heels and happy hours, I moved into a sober-living home and started working at a preschool in Venice.
Without alcohol, I was like a fish out of water. I sat on my hands and endured the cravings, feeling like my life had been turned upside down. Sobriety would be a daily exercise of flexing muscles I didn’t even know I had as I learned to live my life one day at a time, taking one step at a time.
Slowly, I transformed. I experienced the joy of being present in my life again. I went back to my roots in Accounting at a PR agency. I was fortunate to land a job working for a woman who is an inspiring entrepreneur. I was proud to be an integral part of what she created, an agency whose primary mission was to promote positive female role models.
As much as I enjoyed the challenges of my work, long hours slouching over the computer led to tension and strain in my upper back, neck, and shoulders. Ongoing visits to the chiropractor and applying heat and ice became my norm.
I tried a posture support from a local orthopedic store. Wow, what a difference! With my shoulders and back in proper alignment, I was not only pain-free, but I also felt uplifted and more confident. I became keenly aware of the mind/body connection and how my physical alignment impacted my emotional alignment and overall well-being.
There were some drawbacks, however, to my new-found solution. Although it was effective in pulling my shoulders back, it was quite bulky and restricted my range of motion, not to mention it wasn’t exactly attractive. Let’s just say it wasn’t the fashion accessory I was looking to incorporate into my wardrobe! I tried nearly every posture support available, but what I found was bulky, uncomfortable, irritating to the skin, difficult to put on and take off, and not something I wanted to wear in public.
When I went home to Nashville for the holidays, my mom sewed a cover for the posture support I had, which made it a little softer and moderately more attractive. Strangers began stopping me asking what I was wearing and exclaimed, “OMG, I need that! Where can I get one?”
I realized I wasn’t the only one with this issue – lots of people sat hunched in front of their computers for countless hours, but there wasn’t a solution that was effective and comfortable, let alone attractive. Why wasn’t there a posture support that was sporty and fun and could be worn over or under your clothes? While continuing to work full-time, I began devoting nights and weekends to creating a posture support that was effective, attractive, and comfortable – like a gentle embrace.
This is when the BackEmbrace® journey began. After designing prototypes and testing countless materials for strength, durability, and softness; it wasn’t long before my living room began to resemble a small factory. Eventually, I created a uniquely designed posture support. I knew I finally had it right when my friends would conveniently “forget” to return the latest prototype I had asked them to try.
Now I had BackEmbrace, but not a clue how to move forward. There were many moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. I realized the very thing I needed to embrace was the very thing BackEmbrace had given me — the ability to stand tall with a sense of confidence and strength.
I applied the lessons learned while creating a new life in LA to my new project, one day at a time, one step at a time, inching my way forward. I learned about everything from patents and trademarks to production and packaging.
I went back to the local orthopedic store where I had purchased my first posture support and showed them what I had created. As fate would have it, they would become my first wholesale customer!
I’m still on my BackEmbrace journey. I hope to continue helping people feel better and stand taller with a little more confidence, and perhaps inspire someone else who may be playing small to move more confidently in the direction of their dreams.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say it’s been a smooth road?
This road has been anything but smooth! Figuring out what needs to be done, how to do it, and getting it done in my “free” time was and continues to be a challenge. While developing BackEmbrace®, I went through dozens of prototypes – designing and testing and then revising and refining and then doing it all over again.
At one point my plan was to move forward with a particular design, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied with it. I felt stuck. I gave it some time and space. Several weeks later, sitting on the living room floor playing with a stretchy band, the design that would soon be on store shelves, came to me – almost effortlessly. I let go of my preconceived ideas about what BackEmbrace should look like and suddenly there was space for my creative energy to flow.
On a shoestring budget, I’ve worked hard to make ends meet, spending nights and weekends to move my business forward. I’ve done just about everything myself. At times, it’s overwhelming and exhausting, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and has given me strength and confidence.
Looking back in the rear-view mirror, I now see that the speed bumps and detours I had perceived to be setbacks were actually a required part of my journey.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Currently, BackEmbrace, LLC is a one-woman operation. I’m a “solopreneur.” The BackEmbrace® mission is to provide comfortable, effective, and attractive posture and back support to help people feel their best. By gently retracting your shoulders into proper alignment, BackEmbrace works instantly to improve your posture while you sit, stand, walk or do just about anything.
Like a gentle embrace, BackEmbrace helps to relieve tension and strain in the upper back, neck, and shoulders, leaving you feeling more energized and confident. BackEmbrace is made with soft, stylish materials so you can wear it comfortably under or over your clothes. It’s an effective orthopedic device — it just doesn’t look like one.
I’m proud to have put my heart and soul into creating BackEmbrace and proud to say it’s manufactured in the USA, right here in its hometown, Los Angeles. BackEmbrace is the first posture support you’ll actually want to wear!
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
Los Angeles is a wonderful place for anyone launching a business in the health and wellness industry. As a leader in healthy, active living, the city is extremely progressive and eager to embrace new ideas, and people, as it has embraced me.