I made $76,000 in revenue last year selling custom medical backpacks. Here's how I used Instagram Reels and Et - Business Insider India

Summary

Faye Bingham tried to design a better backpack than the one she was given to support a feeding tube .

Faye Bingham tried to design a better backpack than the one she was given to support a feeding tube .

. She sourced a backpack and adapted it to her needs — and she saw a market for the product.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Faye Bingham, a 26-year-old founder from Kidderminster, England, about starting the business . It has been edited for length and clarity. Insider has verified Bingham's sales with documentation.

From age 13, doctors misdiagnosed me with anorexia nervosa. I spent a lot of time in the hospital growing up because I was very underweight and very malnourished.

I was often put on feeding tubes during my prolonged hospital stays from 13 to 22. I had a gravity-fed nasogastric tube, or NG, a tube that carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose.

In January 2019 I was fitted with a permanent NG tube to help me maintain a consistent weight. This one was pump-fed and required a backpack to carry the pump and feeding bag. At the time, I was 22 and studying at university.

I took my favorite Disney backpack and asked my husband to get some fishing wire and ribbon. I sewed the ribbon and wire into the top of the bag with a needle to hold my feeding tube and pump.

The hospital gave me a backpack to carry my pump, but it was black and boring

In February 2019, a month after being released from the hospital, I went to an adult eating-disorder unit in Glasgow. They discovered that my previous diagnosis of anorexia nervosa was wrong and correctly diagnosed me with avoidant restrictive food intake disorder.

ARFID is a physical aversion to food that is separate from body image. This diagnosis meant I started getting the correct treatment I needed. I felt like I could finally be with friends and plan for the future, and I started going out more.

Every time I went out between March and June 2019, I had to carry around three backpacks because I couldn't fit all my feeding-tube supplies into one.

It was a hassle.

I wanted a bag that would make me feel more confident and own my diagnosis

During that time, I began designing a big-enough backpack for day-to-day living with a feeding pump. I wanted it to fit a laptop along with textbooks, pencil cases, and a spare change of clothes.

I tried backpacks and materials from a variety of retailers. I also researched how to create safe entry and exit holes for the tubing that connects the feed bag to the pump and the pump to the NG tube.

I bought a £20 sewing machine and started hand-making the bags with special adaptions. It took a few months to design the product.

I hand-make all of the backpacks from a spare room in my house. I watched a couple of YouTube videos to learn how to set up a business and paid a website-subscription fee to sell my bags on Etsy.

In July 2019, while I was still doing my master's degree, I launched Tubie Life, selling the adapted backpacks I had designed.

I made about £30 of profit in my first month — but I loved making the backpacks, so I kept at it, and sales picked up.

Having a tube on your face is noticeable

People stare.

I knew hospitals would tape children's IV lines with teddy-bear cannula dressings. I thought, why can't adults and other feeding-tube users have patterned medical tape to replace the boring white tape used on NG tubes?

In December 2020 I invested the money I'd made to buy specialist printers for personalized Tubie Tape — a patterned, medical-grade tape — to replace the boring white tape used on NG tubes.

I paid a graphic designer £150 to touch up the logo I had designed.

In May 2021 I created a Shopify website. I currently run both the Etsy and the Shopify sites, and I've expanded my product range into tape and stickers and bags.

The critical thing I have learned is to make your brand personable

I built brand recognition through Instagram.

The Tubie Life Instagram tells you who I am as the creator. I post a healthy mix of Reels, Stories, and in-feed posts, but Reels has been the most successful.

One of the first Reels I made was to audio of the days of the week showing seven NG tube tapes. I want to inspire people to feel confident and express themselves through their tapes.

We have seen an increase in sale conversion rates when I post a Reel of about 7% to 8%.

It was incredibly hard juggling university and Tubie Life. I dropped out of university in January 2022. I feel passionate about my business and want to devote myself fully to growing it.

Since last April I have made more than £61,000, almost $77,000, in revenue from my handmade products on my site and my Etsy store. Last month I made £7,000 in income.

I am proud that my job is increasing the quality of life of my customers.

I made $76,000 in revenue last year selling custom medical backpacks. Here's how I used Instagram Reels and Et - Business Insider India
Photo Credit: Business Insider India

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