Today we’d like to introduce you to Marshella Bouser.
Marshella, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I became a food allergy advocate when my oldest daughter Lena was diagnosed with food allergies at 11 months. At that time, I had no idea how dangerous food could be. Of course, I’ve heard of food allergies, but who knew it was more than hives or a minor itch. I learned the hard way that my daughter’s life was at stake by simply eating food. A couple of spoons of mashed potatoes from a restaurant resulted in my daughter’s face swelling by the second and us rushing to the Emergency Room. I can honestly say it was the most terrifying day of my life!!
Fast forward three years when my daughter was officially tested for food allergies, we learned that she was allergic to seven different things (peanut, tree nuts, sesame, milk, wheat, coconut and sunflower). Since then, she has only been cleared of one out of the seven allergens. After making the necessary adjustments, which were challenging, my husband and I encountered our second biggest fear… daycare!!! It was then that the anxiety kicked in again. We were very uncomfortable with dropping our child off in the care of others who might not be as vigilant when it comes to her allergies as we were.
Every thought possible ran across my mind. Will the care provider remember all of her allergies? Will they read the labels before giving her food? Will another parent send their child to daycare with my child’s allergens? Is the staff trained properly if an allergic reaction were to occur? The list goes on, and I was absolutely terrified!!
I had to think of a way to make my daughter’s allergies stand out with awareness accessories that didn’t end up in her backpack. So, I began making eye-catching awareness hair bows, and surprisingly it worked!! She kept it in her hair, and her bows became a conversation piece. The unique designs brought attention to the attached awareness information.
Overtime I realized I wasn’t alone in this struggle and that there were so many parents with the same fear. Researchers estimate that 1 in 13 American children have food allergies, and more than 40 percent of these children have experienced a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. As a result, Lena’s Allergy Movement & Beyond was established to enhance the quality of life of children by raising awareness about the severity of life-threatening food allergies. I needed people to understand the severity of food allergies and to know what it takes to keep kids safe. My advocacy consisted of researching awareness information and sharing my findings via social media.
Lena is now nine years old and wants to empower other children to just simply “live free” from the constraints of food allergies. We feel that living free means not having to always rely on telling someone that you have food allergies! Therefore, in 2018 we launched an awareness accessory line because we believed that others could also benefit from our way of making people aware. We want our accessories to speak for children!!! We sell many awareness products! Lena’s brand (L-Bows) consists of handmade, eye-catching awareness hair bows, bow ties, bracelets, bags, and barrettes that can be customized to list multiple food allergies or simply encourage people to read labels.
Although most of our products are for children with food allergies, we also sell customizable items for children without food allergies as well. Included with every purchase is information regarding the importance of keeping kids with food allergies safe. We feel that when someone without food allergies wears our accessories, it represents their commitment to help keep kids safe. Be it their friends, classmates, and/or family. We truly appreciate their support!
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 things have been easy for you?
Getting people to listen that can relate has been very smooth. Our goal is to connect with people that aren’t aware of how serious food allergies can be. A lot of times I hear people say, “I don’t have kids” or “My kids don’t have food allergies.” So, I try to get people to understand how sensitivities to foods can develop over time. For example, someone can be allergy-free to a particular food item today, and develop sensitivities later. Also, it helps to be able to protect the children you’re around. How can you protect them if you don’t know how?! It could be your child, a niece, a nephew, or a friend’s child that you are watching. As a result, we all have to be prepared!
My biggest advice for someone just starting their business is to be consistent. Keep going no matter what! You never know who you may inspire or help.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Lena’s Allergy Movement & Beyond story. Tell us more about the business.
Our business specializes in creating handcrafted items that are visible and eye-catching. We are proud that our accessories give kids hope to “live free”. When people are aware that severe food allergies exist, they are able to protect and/or assist efficiently.
Our creativity sets us apart from others because we focus on making everything bright, bold, and visible!!! Our accessories will surely draw attention, and that’s what a child with food allergies needs! Their information needs to be seen, and the creations by Lena’s Allergy Movement & Beyond are the perfect vehicle to do it!
Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
My biggest inspiration are my daughters. It’s my job to push for their safety and protect them emotionally. It’s rough having Food Allergies. You have to constantly notify and remind people of all your allergies, fear trying new foods, check everything you eat, be excluded at school, birthday parties, and/or places where people are unsure of the ingredients in things. It’s a lot to deal with! I just want my girls and other children to be protected! My hope is that one day everyone will be educated in a way that makes it normal for people to be aware of food allergies.
- Prices range from $5-$35
- Website: www.lamandbeyond.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/lenas_bows?igshid=1kz4t2rqj1g8f
- Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/LAMandBeyond1/