Mt. Carmel seniors have crazy, but great, idea

Knowing how painful an uncomfortable undergarment can be, two Mount Carmel seniors imagined and pitched the idea of the Effortless Activewear sports bra at the 2017 Greater New Orleans “Trust Your Crazy Ideas Challenge” (TYCIC) sponsored by Junior Achievement and the (Drew) Brees Dream Foundation. This was the fourth annual TYCIC competition.

Isabel Caballero and Madeleine Erickson were named winners of the Greater New Orleans Trust Your Crazy Ideas Contest March 17 for their “Helene Bra” and won $5,000 in continuing education funds for their effort.

“I have gained a new level of confidence while also learning how to properly and effectively work out a business plan,” said Isabel Caballero. “Madeleine and I were able to formulate ideas and use our creativity to work on something beyond our personal needs, which was a great feeling. I felt like a true adult in the business world when we worked with other entrepreneurs and did our pitch. I definitely learned business skills first hand that I don’t think I could have learned anywhere else at this young of an age.”

Hard to remove sports bras
Caballero said they came up with the idea after Erickson’s mother, Helene, had cut herself on her forehead trying to take off a regular sports bra.

“She expressed to us that it was due to the constricting and challenging design of her traditional sports bra,” Caballero said. “We mentioned other alternatives, but still, these did not suffice. After some thinking, the design of the ‘Helene Bra,’ fittingly named after Madeleine’s mother, was created.”

“Her funny yet real problem got us thinking about ways we could improve the sports bra to make it more comfortable and convenient,” Erickson said. 

Went on to state
They also advanced to the state competition but didn’t win.

“However, we were advised that we came in as a very close runner-up to the winner,” Caballero said. “Although we didn’t win, we most definitely learned a lot during the state competition.”

“We were up against three other terrific ideas,” Erickson said. “Although we did not win first place, we were runners-up and won $2,500 for our idea.”

Erickson said both learned a lot about public speaking from participation in the Junior Achievement Competition.

“After several weeks of pitch practice, Isabel and I became more and more comfortable speaking in front of an audience, which will definitely help us in the future,” Erickson said. “Also, from participating I have learned that forming an idea and starting a business is hard. Many resources are needed, and planning and prototyping can take a lot of time and effort. We failed a lot before we found a solid plan for our product.”

Both will be attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in the fall. Erickson plans to study biology in the pre-dental track with hopes of becoming a dentist. Caballero will be majoring in international studies with a concentration in global diplomacy with a minor in business of some sort.

The girls already have a utility patent on the Helene Bra, and “Isabel and I hope to pursue our sports bra as an actual product in the future, hopefully after we finish high school,” Erickson said.

“We would love to pursue Effortless Activewear as a small business as we grow. Hopefully, through resources we find on campus in college, this process of keeping up Effortless Activewear won’t be too challenging, especially because we will be living together and we have such a passion for our product. 

Christine Bordelon can be reached at

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