SME Story: Interview with Kate Brunette-Sireteanu, co-founder of Peace of Mind Products
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SME Story: Interview with Kate Brunette-Sireteanu, co-founder of Peace of Mind Products

SME Story: Interview with Kate Brunette-Sireteanu, co-founder of Peace of Mind Products

While we all walk around wearing masks to protect ourselves from airborne particles, our youngsters had no added layer of resistance until we launched our VirusShield Stroller Cover

Gulf Business

What inspired you to start your business?
As a mother to a newborn, I faced a personal challenge during the initial months of the Covid-19 pandemic. I knew that when the lockdowns ended, I wanted to be able to go out of the home while protecting my daughter from airborne viruses, whether travelling or in public and busy spaces. So I searched the market for an antiviral stroller cover with all the qualities a mother would want (breathable, lightweight, fire resistant, antiviral, antibacterial, reusable, water repellant, simple and affordable) but came up with nothing. At that moment, I decided to develop the product myself, and from there Peace of Mind Products was born.

What were some of the challenges you faced when starting off?
In the early days, it was just me on a laptop contacting international suppliers. It is hard to get traction when you do not have a company or are not from a well-known entity. If and when I did get to speak with a company, I could only answer a few technical questions. I was on a steep learning curve and needed assistance. So I engaged a fabric technology agency and brought in a business partner. My approach was to find a way; this attitude and determination has stood the business and its development in good stead.

What are the key milestones you have achieved after the launch of your company?
Technically the wins were obtaining our ECAS certificate – it is an approval from the UAE Federal Government through the Ministry of Advanced Innovation and Technology (MoAIT), preceded by the product passing ISO, ASTM and EN standards needed to substantiate the product claims. In gaining traction, the success of the launch, having sold 50 per cent of our available stock to customers and our online retail partner MumzWorld, all these factors validated the product’s viability after two years of development.

Tell us about your offering, its USP and business model.
Our company ethos is – a go-to trusted brand created by parents for parents, producing custom-designed everyday reusable textile products that we enhance with anti-microbial properties to prevent the build-up of ‘nasties’. Our business model is based on addressing a new core need that our customers are facing in the Covid-19 era, while ensuring there is the potential for an expandable product offering in the future – to future proof the business’s expansion.

Tell us about the response to your products in the UAE and Middle East.
As a newly launched startup, we are in the process of building and establishing our brand. Based on the reception that our launch product has made in the UAE, we are already in the process of producing more and finalising the second as well as third products in the range. The response from customers and investors, who we have been talking to, has been rewarding, especially as we showcase a product that this not available anywhere in the globe for a segment of the community who have been unshielded for the last two and a half years. While we all walked around wearing masks to protect ourselves from airborne particles, our youngsters had no added layer of resistance until we launched our VirusShield Stroller Cover.

Can you tell us about the development/process involved in creating your anti-viral fabric technology?
In our development, we have worked with a range of textile technology experts including HEIQ a Swiss IP Creator, an established global brand in materials and textile innovation. Our fabric is powered by HeiQ Viroblock the antiviral and antimicrobial technology which inhibits and neutralises the growth of germs on the fabric’s surface in minutes, minimising the carryover and spread of viruses such as influenza, coronavirus and bacteria including Staph A and E-Coli.

How is it tested and certified?
Giving our consumers peace of mind is in our business’ DNA – so testing and certification are an important and integral aspect of our development process. Our custom-designed fabric is antiviral, antibacterial, fire resistant and breathable that has undergone multiple scientific tests under global standards of ISO (International Organisation for Standarisation), ASTM International, and EN Testing (European Standards). For the UAE market, it carries the Emirates Conformity Certification (aECAS) which is a local stamp of approval. We go over and above the testing requirements as compared to the majority of our competitors in the family-care category due to our trusted brand proposition.

Tell us how the company is promoting sustainability.
Peace of Mind Products has an eye toward long-term sustainability. It is a top priority for our business, mainly as we produce products for future generations. Therefore, we have a sustainable sourcing approach; for example, the majority composition of our textile is viscose sourced from beech wood forests, a natural and renewable source of raw material.

The textile technology, HeiQ Viroblock, that our fabric is powered with was selected because it is certified as safe and sustainable. All its ingredients are cosmetic grade, bio-based and recycled. In addition, our supply chain has been carefully curated by working with suppliers who carry certifications. One of them is BlueSign, a sustainability standard that guarantees the highest level of security for consumers who hold sustainability at the heart of their business operations and who, like us, are committed to pioneering a sustainable future.

What’s your opinion on women entrepreneurs in the STEM industry?
In our experience, it is harder for women to break into this business segment. We have met very few women in the course of the technical development of the product. Our success has been driven by exploring the technology that is available with a business mindset and applying it through the eyes of a consumer. This is where women can add value, not only in being STEM professionals but also in enabling the technology created to be monetised through consumer-relevant products and integrated into categories that had perhaps not been considered during the initial stages of the technology’s development.

Share your future plans.
Having secured exclusivity with our textile technology partner in the non-medical family-care category in the next two years, we will be broadening our product range as the go-to anti-microbial textile-based brand for parents across the region. We will also be working with investors who are aligned to our company ethos and product development plan to support this growth.

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