Meet Tina: Her Family’s Journey with Scoliosis Turned her into a Mompreneur on a Mission

“Necessity is the Mother of invention.” Most people have heard this quote from Plato before, but it has become my theme over the past 10 years. Why? Well, I’ll get to that in a moment. First, let me tell you a little about my journey thus far.  I was born in Midland, Michigan to a Mother who had a Masters in Apparel Design and a Father who was a Chemical Engineer. We lived in Midland {which I used to think was a small town} until halfway through elementary school, when my parents divorced. Eventually, my Mom moved to Miami, Florida and my Dad stayed in Midland. So, my brother and I flew back and forth a lot. But, the upside was that we had the best weather all year round…school years in Miami and summers in Michigan. 

Our wedding nearly 20 years ago!

I came back to Michigan when I went to college, majoring in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan {Go Blue!}. It was also at U of M where I met my husband, and we married before I graduated – in 2008. {Yes, I can’t believe we are coming up on our 20th Anniversary!}. I worked as an Engineer for a couple of years, then decided to stay home with my daughter when she was born. Then, three years later my son came along. In 2005 we moved to Akron, an itsy bitsy town in the thumb, which is where we still reside.

My husband had changed careers from a computer engineer to a high school educator and coach, and I worked part time in a lot of endeavors while my kids were little – as a church music director, private music instructor, for a children’s newspaper publication, and as a substitute teacher.  But, in 2009, everything changed when my daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis. This started our Scoliosis journey, which I outline on my Scoliosis blog, Scoliosis Family Adventures. We’ve been through everything a family can go through with Scoliosis – multiple types of bracing, multiple types of Scoliosis-specific physical therapy, and my daughter eventually had spinal fusion surgery. A few years after she was diagnosed, our son was diagnosed, also at age five.  He still wears a nighttime brace to keep his curves in check while he grows like a weed. With my husband also having Scoliosis, I am the only one that does not have it, but I journey with them through everything, like most moms do.

This brings me to the “Mother of Invention” part.  Not long after my daughter went into her first brace, I soon realized that she was too young to take it on and off by herself and that it would be incredibly uncomfortable if she had to wear it next to her skin. I had three days to get her comfortable enough and capable enough in the brace to go to the school. After all, as things were, she couldn’t go to the restroom independently while wearing the brace. I was desperate. So, I resurrected my sewing skills {thanks, mom} and my engineering skills {thanks, dad} and came up with a bodysuit for her that was functional and comfortable. It wasn’t pretty, but that was OK – it worked! At her next checkup, her Orthotist asked where I had found such a garment. I said that I made it myself.   He then paused and said “You know, many people out there could use this. Would you consider making it for the public?” And, that started our adventure in business, our giant leap of faith. Nine years later, we have a company, Embraced in Comfort, we have a utility patent on our bodysuit design, we sell all types of undergarments for Scoliosis braces, all over the world, and we do in-house production for both our own products as well as for products for other designers and manufacturers. Never, in a million years, did I think that God would take the skills that I grew up accumulating and then inspire me – “Just a Mom” {yeah, right!} – to use them to help others, by first helping her own children.  But, He works in mysterious ways.  And, nobody is more motivated than a mom who needs to make her kids well!

Scoliosis

Goofing around at the National Scoliosis Center in Virginia, one of the years we got TWO braces!

My kids are now teens – very independent and capable. So, I have time to pursue my many hobbies – musical theater {as an actor and director}, Karate {black belt in Tang Soo Do}, music {I play electric violin, keys, and sing in a Christian band), and volunteering at church {I am currently church council President}.  I also like to do yoga and lift weights, although some odds and ends medical issues slow me down occasionally.

My hope is to use my experiences to support and uplift moms who are considering their own journey of Mompreneurship.

Our family, as of last Christmas. I think my son has grown at least two inches since then!

I’m also passionate about domestic, lean manufacturing as well as incorporating efficiency into our lives so we can live balanced lives as entrepreneurs and moms. 

I hope you will join me as I write about my journey on Mid-Michigan Moms Blog!

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