Canadian inventor and product designer launches fashion construct
January 10, 2019
In the tech world, Brigitte Bastaldo-Tsampalis was thriving as a product designer and inventor, filing 15 American patents.
While making good money, she wanted to live a more fulfilling life.
After nearly five years at Verizon Wireless, the University of Toronto graduate -- who has resided in the United States for the past 18 years -- quit her six-figure job as a consumer Internet of Things (IoT) product manager in June 2017 to launch Bond & Lead that is a fashion construct inspired by art, technology and dismantled social boundaries.
It was time to be at the forefront of the drive to change the fashion industry, making wearables function at a significantly higher level than their basic requirement.
“I was at a point in my career where I was creating all this great stuff for everyone,” said Bastaldo-Tsampalis. “It was very rewarding to see some of the things I designed go into the market. However, I started to realize the whole cycle of design is incomplete and there’s a tangibility that’s missing. I was becoming increasingly cognizant of how some of the technology and inventions weren’t necessarily being used the way I imagined.”
She said the company name has significant meaning.
“We spend a lot of time in technology and we aren’t connecting with people,” Bastaldo-Tsampalis said. “But are we bonding? I am trying to encourage people to embrace that philosophy and it doesn’t necessarily have to be through technology. It could be through the exchange of a smile. We have the power to lead the way to effect change. If you believe in a brand that encourages people to connect and lead, we will be in a better place. Our clothing should be more than just something with a cool symbol and random tag name that people could remember.”
The company line features aromatherapy, lightning and purpose wear.
Bastaldo-Tsampalis, who was in Toronto recently to pitch the aromatherapy wear at Ryerson University’s DMZ Sandbox, believes the scented apparel is the optimal platform to help her company break into the market.
“It is something with many touch points,” she noted. “Through aromatherapy, you can derive many types of therapeutic advantages. If you need clarity, if you are looking for serenity, if you want to get focused, if you intend to lead and if you are stressed out and need to be rejuvenated, you can get many sensations from aromatherapy. I felt this is a line that people could gravitate to right away.”
The aromatherapy collection includes medallions and T-shirts of various colours.
“To be able to put on a T-shirt today and get that boost wherever you are along with the interchangeable aspect of the T-shirt, I think, is the most palatable line to start with for the market to understand what Bond & Lead is all about,” said Bastaldo-Tsampalis.
A T-shirt costs US$18 and $38 with the medallion. There’s also a wide range of necklaces ranging from $68 for silver to $128 for gold.
The lighting wear comprises apparel that illuminates and create a presence and sense of enlightenment in any social arena.
The company – which is developing a purpose wear line -- is seeking models of all diversities, social media marketing specialists, product testers and brand ambassadors.
“The ambassadors are a critical component to Bond & Lead,” she added. “Over the years, I have built a network of partnerships with people who have done a lot of meaningful work and are trying to create new paths. They are huge advocates of the products because they see the value in their own spaces.”
Featured in the May 21, 1992 edition of ‘Share’ as a creative rising star, Bastaldo-Tsampalis – who completed high school at St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School (formerly Blessed Pope John Paul II) -- played a major role in designing the in-helmet radio for National Football League (NFL) defences who previously relied on hand signals from sideline coaches.
At the start of the 2008-09 NFL season, defensive co-ordinators had the ability to designate a player to wear a ‘live’ helmet equipped with a Motorola transmitter.
That was the last major technological project the former Scarborough resident worked on before ending a seven-year relationship with Motorola, which recruited her while she was completing her undergraduate studies in Canada.
At the time, Motorola was among the Top 10 Fortune 500 companies and leaders in the design of mobile phones.
She was part of a team that created solutions for the United States government.
“That was interesting because we were creating technologies like text messaging, image recognition and GPS location that the world would soon take for granted,” the married mother of two girls said. “These products, that I coded and tested, were not part of the consumer market at the time.”
Seeking a new challenge, Bastaldo-Tsampalis left Motorola 11 years ago and moved from Illinois to New Jersey to explore art. She authored and illustrated a children’s book, ‘The Busy Bee and the Lazy Lion’, which was released a few months later.
Always willing to take risks, she also launched a social networking website geared towards retailing and gifting luxury brands and designer products.
‘OurNewLiving.com’ lasted 27 months before she ran out of money.
Bastaldo-Tsampalis pursued an MBA at the University of Liverpool in 2011 and, the following year, joined Verizon Wireless as an inventor and mobile demand generation consultant. A year later, she was on a team planning and managing the launch of new products, including design, development and product prototype trials.
In those roles, she conceptualized and designed 12 of the 15 patented new products she has filed in the United States. They include a method for generating a 3D object for visualizing multivariate data and an annotation for signage.
Bastaldo-Tsampalis’ creativity was evident at a very young age.
“As far back as when I was seven, I was tampering with objects,” the product of Trinidadian immigrants said. “I didn’t really take them apart. I tried to put them together and build new things. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I would be using that creative talent all the way through to now.”
At age 15 while in high school, she won the Scarborough and Metro Separate School Boards science fairs first prize for researching what makes people yawn.
“People yawn all the time, but there wasn’t any research done with it,” said Bastaldo-Tsampalis who has a Master’s Certificate in project management from George Washington University and an Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate from Stanford University. “I thought I could do the research and make a contribution to the world. Through my inquisitiveness, I learned not only how to execute a research paper, but also there are so many streams of science that there was to discover.
“Before applying to U of T to do my undergrad, I really thought long and hard about pursuing psychology which was the field I was admitted to. But one year in, I realized that as much as I could understand human behaviour, I really couldn’t build something. That’s what led me to computer science.”
Based on her body of work in the last two decades, she made the right decision.