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  • "Wise Little Ears" - Hearing Protection for Babies & Kids!

    November 16, 2022 4 min read

    When Eva and I started Princess Awesome, we had no experience in business, e-commerce, or the fashion industry. We taught ourselves and were the grateful recipients of a lot of advice and coaching from others who had trod the path before us. While we are certainly no experts now, we do love talking with women who are just starting their entrepreneurial journeys and helping in whatever way we can.

    A few weeks ago, I got to meet with local DC mom duo, Mabel and Lara, who have recently launched Wise Little Ears, a hearing health brand specifically for babies and children. They carry hearing protection (we know them as noise-reducing headphones or earmuffs) that are designed to protect children from loud noise (think sporting events, concerts and, a crowd favorite, monster truck rallies).

    Mabel is a Doctor of Audiology and Lara is an educator and former teacher, so their combined skills have made a unique business that combines education with products. They even have a safe hearing course for parents and caregivers, which is the first of its kind! I wanted to share my conversation with them so you all can learn about their business and check out their offerings!

    To kick off this interview, is there a backstory to your business?

    Lara: There is indeed! I am a habitual DIYer and pretty much always have a project in the works (a.k.a. a gaping hole in my kitchen wall). During my second pregnancy, I put on hearing protection to use a loud saw, and realized that the tool was basically level to my pregnant belly. I decided to call Mabel my Audiologist friend, just in case to ask if there are any concerns about loud sounds in utero. She confirmed that there are! At about 25 weeks, a fetus’s hearing system is developed and hearing damage can occur. I had no idea! As an educator, my job is to get information out, and this seemed like really important information. That was the seed. After that, we talked a lot about how hearing health isn’t prioritized in childhood development the way it should be and the general public just don't know much about this subject. The deeper we went into the realities of youth hearing loss (1-6 school-aged children in the US suffer from noise-induced hearing loss), the more we felt inspired to start a business that not only provides child-specific hearing protection earmuffs, but also educates parents and caregivers about how and when to use them.

    Why a childhood hearing health company? Aren’t adults the ones with most of the hearing issues?

    Mabel: In my work as an audiologist, I see the impacts of noise exposure on the daily. It’s never too late to protect the hearing you have, but noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, so once it's gone it's gone. Most of my patient interactions address adult hearing loss rather than hearing loss prevention, and I’d love to see a shift in that thinking. If in normal circumstances an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, in the world of hearing health it’s worth 10x that. There are serious health impacts, not to mention social and emotional impacts, that come from untreated hearing loss. And the truth is, preventing noise-induced hearing loss is very easy.

    Who are your products made for?

    Mabel: All children! Every single one. They are for children without hearing loss and also for children with diagnosed hearing loss. They are for children with sensory differences and also for children who aren’t bothered by noise in the slightest. Our products are helpful for neurodiverse kids who need quiet, or for older siblings on road trips who are tired of listening to their winey younger siblings. Every child with the ability to hear needs hearing protection, and that is who our products are made for.

    More specifically, our infant hearing protection earmuffs are for babies up to 24 months. They are designed to be worn around the head rather than on top of the head. This eliminates pressure on the top of a baby’s head. Our youth line is for children 2-16, although I routinely see Lara using them for her house projects. The youth line has weatherproof decals, which to the untrained eye might seem like a cute gimmick, but we included them to incentivize young children to be more willing to wear them. I know from experience that once a kid has marked something with a sticker, it is truly theirs forever.

    What are you most proud of about Wise Little Ears so far?

    Lara: The Wise Little Ear's packaging! I know that is a strange thing to be proud of, but this has all been such a learning experience. Having packaging with a QR code to a free course AND a hearing-safe event guide printed right on the box that explains when to use our hearing protection in various noisy environments. It just feels like such a win for our mission. We really, really care about hearing health, so anyway we can get that information out there to parents and care givers is something we feel proud of.

    Mabel: I just love getting the word out. My dream is to walk into a stadium full of cheering fans and see every kid with hearing protection on, rather than kids covering their ears because it’s too loud. I think we are working toward that, slowly. Wise Little Ears is part of the movement and that makes me proud of the work we are doing.

    What is one thing you wished parents knew about hearing loss?

    Mabel: All children need hearing protection in the same way that they need bicycle helmets and sunscreen. Noise induced Hearing loss is cumulative, which means that each exposure to damaging noise is added to previous hearing loss, which makes the condition worse. And although noise is not the only cause of hearing loss, it is the only truly preventable form of hearing loss. We all want to protect our kids, and this is an easy thing you can do starting today.

    If you have more questions about childhood hearing health, or if you want to browse their collection of hearing protection products, visit their website at wiselittleears.com.

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