Maria Messier- (Co-Inventor, Managing Member)
I have been an registered nurse for 15 years, but I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind. Blessed with four beautiful children, I am well aware of the joys and challenges women face with pregnancy. Back in 2012, I was two weeks shy of my due date, and carrying around 60 extra pounds. None of my outerwear fit, yet I refused to purchase an expensive maternity coat. Freezing in upstate NY, I decided to wear my husbands coat. This experience made me think, “why is there not something woman can use to expand their coats temporarily”? The thing is, how many of us have this grand idea, and file it away as life moves on?
In Sept of 2013. I was again pregnant, but this time with twins. Given this was 3 and 4, my belly was growing quickly. I was at a family party and casually discussed this idea that I had. My family thought it was simply perfect, especially my Aunt Joanne. Joanne being a designer with over 40 years in this industry, really saw the potential and believed we could make this happen. As my belly grew, Joanne continued to take measurements. 7 prototypes and endless product testing, we had the perfect product called extendher! Not only is it a jacket extender, but also a babywearing cover too. One product offering two modes of function! Changing the design from one product to two was our ” A HA” moment. How many other products on the market can you actually use from pregnancy and beyond? In March of 2015 Extendher LLC was launched. We are thrilled to embark on this journey together and know that we have one truly unique and versatile product. Extendher solves that very problem that every woman faces during pregnancy!
Joanne Frank – (Co-Inventor, Designer, Managing Member)
My story begins from the time of 9 years old. I had created dozens of dresses that my mother thought were good enough to send to the Long Island Sunday Press. Seeing my designs in print at such a young age was what drove me to want more. After graduating from Art & Design High School, I began working for Butterick & Vogue, a prestigious pattern company. Starting off as an apprentice, I quickly moved on to the role of the sketcher. This was a wonderful experience, but again I wanted more. I found it difficult to advance at this point because I was told that they only hire “experienced designers”. Ultimately this is what drove me to further my education at the Fashion Institute of Technology. At 22 I landed my dream job designing for the Fifth Avenue stores as a private label designer. The recognition in Women’s Wear Daily and in B. Altman’s Christmas catalog was a great joy. Some of my designs were displayed at department stores such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Ave, Lord and Taylor, and Bonwit Teller.
After marrying my husband Bill and moving upstate, I was hired to work for one of the areas top designers, Ursula of Switzerland. This was a wonderful experience on so many levels. It was pure joy to create patterns for the most beautiful dresses and evening gowns. After leaving Ursula, I decided it was time to showcase my talent and venture off on my own. I started Fashion Art & Design Services Inc, and launched my very own tennis wear line. This was a great success, until my manufacturer folded. Fashion Art & Design is still a freelance business, however I have been looking for something new and invigorating to create with my 40 years of knowledge in the industry. When my niece approached me, I knew this was something that was going to be big! Designing the extendher has been an incredible experience. After continuous planning, research, and development, we have a fantastic product that solves a problem.
To offer a cost effective, high quality product that solves a problem that many families face during pregnancy and beyond.