|Leslie Pierson, on right, with her MEMI cofounder, Margaux Guerard|
Style + Substance is a new DITTO Blog feature on people who inspire us through their combination of style and smarts. In our first installment, we interview Leslie Pierson, cofounder of Atlanta-based MEMI.
What is MEMI?MEMI is a bracelet that connects to your phone wirelessly and vibrates only when important calls come through from specified people. We recently raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter, and we are in the midst of gearing up for our first mass production run.
What inspired you to start MEMI?
I’m a mom of 3 (ages 6, 4, and 1) who was working in strategy consulting and other strategic roles with a number of companies. I didn’t want to miss calls from the nanny or school, so I always had my phone out in meetings. I felt distracted and rude and wanted to find a way to be more present without fear of missing an extremely important call about my kids.
I also remember being on vacation with my family and needing to take a few work calls. I had to keep my phone by me the entire time, and I just never felt fully unplugged and connected with my family.
Did you always know you wanted to start a company?I always knew I wanted to start something. I have a file cabinet of wild ideas, but every time I talked myself out of them. But with Memi, it was different. I woke up every morning wanting this product, and I felt compelled to bring it to life. I found this to be a pain point for a lot of women, and I was at a point in my life where financially I was ready to take a bigger risk. Also, I found an amazing partner, Margaux Guerard, to join me in this venture who brought deep marketing and creative experience to MEMI.
Where is the name from?My two daughter are named Margo and Demi, and together you get "MEMI".
What was the product design process like?It was a long labor of love. Margaux and I wanted to build a bracelet that women would want to wear even if it didn’t have a tech component. This led us quickly to a metal design. The problem is that putting Bluetooth inside a metal component makes the reception challenging. We found a great product development firm, LS Research, who was up for the challenge. They worked with us to tweak the design. The end result is a beautiful metal bracelet with 3 plastic breaks to optimize for the antennae and a slim profile similar to Bluetooth fitness bracelets.
What is your most distinctive trait?I try to be contentiousness. I seek to think through how things effect different people and try to think of others' perspectives when going about my day. I was thinking of my children when I built Memi. When I’m with them, I want to be there.
What talent would you most like to have?I wish I were an engineer. I’m learning everyday, but it’s always somewhat of a black box and I hate not knowing how everything little element in my own product works. I have to depend on others to bring it to life. I bought my girls GoldieBlox because even if they don’t end up being engineers, I want them to be curious about how to build things.
What is your most treasured possession?
The photos of my family. I have them backed up in 3 areas and on the cloud.
What fashion or tech accessory can you not live without?
I simply can’t live without my iPhone. I use it for work and personal emails, texting with family, Facebooking with friends. Bottom line, it enables me not to be at a desk at all. I’m moving around and still plugged in.
What blog/blogger to do you love following?I really love Holly Street, a local Atlanta blogger who writes about things that inspire her in her blog: http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/
Carnivore or herbivore?Definitely a carnivore. I wish I was an herbivore but I just can’t shake the meat.
What matters most to you in 10 words or less?
Being present in my family lives.