Summer break is here and that means children are enjoying a less structured schedule that allows for greater time outdoors and in other unsecured spaces. More freedom, more independence and reduced supervision can create the break a kid needs from a demanding school year, but it can also be the recipe for heightened risk. The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrown Away Children (NISMART) has found that 41% of abductions occur during the summer months of June, July and August. According to Child Find of America, 2,300 children are reported missing daily in the United States. With other data surrounding our children’s safety among crowds, in the water or on the road, the best thing we can do as parents is to be proactive no matter the season. This is precisely why this Tampa Bay Mom came up with a solution we should know about. Meet my friend Charlotte Kay Yepsen.
TBPM: What is your story and how does Back Off Bands represent you as a woman and mother?
CKY: As a woman and mother, my two daughters are most precious to me. I created Back Off Bands so children and women everywhere can be protected from an attack or abduction. I developed the idea 14 years ago as I was watching the news to find 12-year-old Carlie Brucia, from Sarasota, be led away by a man twice her size (who would later rape and murder her). Everything was caught on video behind a carwash, as Carlie was cutting through the area to get to her neighborhood. As a mother of two young daughters, I was horrified watching the “actual abduction” on the news every night until he was arrested. As a mother, I thought, what could Carlie have done to save her life? Then it dawned on me. If Carlie was wearing a super loud alarm, 120 decibels, she could have activated it and it would have “shocked” the attacker enough that it could have changed the dynamic of the situation. There’s a good chance she would have been able to run away, and the attacker would not follow and chase an alarm.
TBPM: The story that inspired the creation of Back Off Bands is every parent’s nightmare, but these summer months offer the opportunity to have the tough conversations with our children and come up with a prevention plan as predators know our kids are not safely tucked away at school. Can you share some talking points to help our kids understand the possible threats around us, and how Back Off Bands offers a solution?
CKY: What’s most important is Back Off Bands don’t hurt anyone. This safety device cannot be used against our kids. Children feel powerful and special wearing a Back Off Band knowing they can activate it easily, to warn others nearby when they feel threatened or scared. It is my plan to have kids on the backoffbands.com website, teaching other kids when to activate the alarm and not to be too scared to do so.
TBPM: As you begin this new business, it’s important to note that you also have another business that serves other vulnerable members in a family through Long Term Care Solutions, LLC. What initially inspired you to pursue life as an entrepreneur with a family care focus?
CKY: I have always been self-employed. I guess it’s how I’m wired. My business of 25 years is Long Term Care Solutions, LLC. It is a nursing home Medicaid filing company. I consult with several families daily on how to protect assets when they have a loved one residing in an expensive nursing home. I love helping families avoid losing life savings to a nursing facility. That website is www.longtermcaresolutionsllc.com
TBPM: What is your big dream for Back Off Bands? Where would you like to see the bands placed? Are you in discussions with any schools, city officials, or nonprofit groups to offer this to Tampa Bay’s most at-risk children?
CKY: I would like to see every child 6 years old and up protected with a back Off Band. I’m also starting a nonprofit organization called Back Off Charities to provide a free Back Off Band to children living in high crime areas. The charity will start reaching out to corporations and individuals this month to invite them to donate and participate in protecting children in the Tampa Bay area. I plan to have sponsors and large Back Off Bands giveaways all over the state of Florida, then expand all over the United States. I very much want to align with the Sheriff’s Department and sex trafficking organizations everywhere to educate and make this product available to protect our kids.
TBPM: Talk to us about product development. What is the process of bringing a product-based idea to market? What advice do you have for other moms that are sitting on ideas that the world needs now?
CKY: It has taken me six years to develop Back Off Bands. I have been to China and hired two companies to develop this product, but they failed. Of course, I was out the money after I paid them. I hired two Tampa Bay “China brokers,” local manufacturing companies with connections overseas, and that was a disaster as well. They promised the world but also failed, costing me time and money once again. Finally, I hired a manufacturing company in Fort Lauderdale, Nikao. I was able to sit down with the engineers to design and develop this very small loud alarm. Back Off Bands are made in the United States with the highest quality features to make sure they work well when needed. Back Off Bands come in five colors and styles: black, white, pink, purple and camo. There are 20 different and fun faceplates kids can choose from making them very customizable, but most importantly, offering our kids the self-confidence they need and deserve.
TBPM: How can moms learn more about Back Off Bands and support the brand?
CKY: Please visit my website at www.backoffbands.com or call me at 727-371-0350. Also, if you or someone you know would like to participate with or donate to Back Off Charities, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you! I’m so excited about Back Off Bands and providing them for free to help our “at risk” youth. Feel free to reach out with any thoughts or suggestions you may have.
TBPM: What is your favorite thing to do with your family in Tampa Bay?
CKY: Although I was born in Denmark, I have lived in Clearwater since I was a small girl. Tampa Bay is home and I love it here! Our family loves to visit the beaches, Armature Works and downtown St Pete, and shop at International Mall and local boutiques. I feel very blessed with a loving and supportive family who encourage me on this journey, developing the first, loud alarm safety device to protect children everywhere.
Photo Credit: Corey Conroy Photography, Inc. | Originally published in June 2022.