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Penalty of Law': Meet an American Entrepreneur Who Is Battling Gov't Red Tape (Via a Maternity Pillow)

Penalty of Law': Meet an American Entrepreneur Who Is Battling Gov't Red Tape (Via a Maternity Pillow)

"If anyone wonders where the mom and pop manufactures went, I'm certain these fees are a factor."

Meet Kerri Smith. Kerri's an American entrepreneur.

During her first pregnancy, Kerri came up with the idea of The BellyRest, an innovative twist on maternity support pillows.

“One day, when I was feeling particularly tired of being tired,” Kerri writes on her product’s website. “I thought, ‘What if I took this pillow, cut it in half, and attached the two pillows with a piece of fabric in the middle so that I'd have a pillow waiting for me on the other side?’”

And that was how her “BellyRest” was born.

“I slept better immediately. The pillows stayed in place when I rolled over, and it hardly took up any real estate in bed. Plus, I found that having a pillow behind me and in front of me supported my lower back and my belly at the same time, reducing my hip pain,” she writes.

“It's not rocket science, but to a pregnant woman who isn't sleeping, it's life changing,” she adds.

Sounds like a good idea, right? Right.

In fact, it seemed like such a good idea, Kerri decided to turn her invention into a profitable, marketable product and sell the BellyRest online. But then she ran into a problem: government red tape. You see, in order to sell the pillow online, Kerri needs to comply with multiple “pillow tag laws.”

“I was ready to sell [the “BellyRest”] online when I found out that I'd have to pay state pillow tag registration fees. No big deal. I paid my $50 to PA and thought I was ready to go. Then I learned that I'd have to pay pillow tag registration fees to all 15 states that require law tags on pillows,” Kerri told TheBlaze in an email.

“The fees range from $5-$720 per year. The first year total is $3,660. (Then another $1k in filing fees to have a company help me keep track of the registrations.) $4,660 just to be allowed to sell a pillow on the internet,” she added.

Even more frustrating is the fact that Kerri has a factory in the U.S. lined up and ready to produce the pillows.

“It’s extremely important to me that my product … be made in the USA. I grew up in metro Detroit and watched what used to be the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, close up factories and send jobs overseas, and how did that turn out?” she asked TheBlaze.

Indeed, Detroit, how has that worked out for you?

After the initial shock wore off, Kerri decided to be proactive. She launched an IndieGoGo “crowdfunding” campaign, whichends on Aug, 14 at 11:59 PM (PT), to pre-sell enough pillows to cover the costs of the registration fees. She even put together a protest video featuring her and several (pregnant) moms. What’s the protest video like? Well, if you’ve ever wondered what a prison yard full of pregnant women rapping looks like, here’s your answer:

Why are American entrepreneurs being forced to fight this sort of regulatory environment?

“I’m all for consumer protection, but there has to be a balance. There is much greater accountability now between companies and consumers. Consumers won’t let you get away with a shoddy product. Consumer protection at the expense of American jobs and manufacturing doesn’t benefit anyone,” Kerri told TheBlaze.

But let's say 15 states worth of fees and tags is doable for Kerri. What happens when other states adopt similar regulations?

“The annual average for law tag registration fees is 183.33 for the existing 15 states that require law tags. If 35 more states required manufacturers to pay an average amount for a registration fee, it would be $6416.35, annually. Add that to the current fees and a manufacturer would be required to pay $9166.55 annually to be allowed to sell a pillow in the US,” Kerri said.

“That’s insane. That would absolutely put small manufactures right out of business. And imagine what will happen to the price of the pillow you sleep on at night. No more $5 pillows at Target,” she adds.

But are the regulations and registration fees bad? Yes. Yes, they are that bad.

If you're wondering why small businesses in the U.S. are struggling and what’s holding back our economy, consider Kerri’s story.

“First there’s the totally ludicrous amount of money paid in government red tape fees, not to mention the administrative nightmare.  Every state and municipality can set up their own fee schedules.  Currently, some are due annually on January 1, some are every two years, some are every three years, some are June 30, some are April 30, and some are December 31,” Kerri said.

“If anyone wonders where the mom and pop manufactures went, I'm certain these fees are a factor. I'm all for consumer protection, but this is over the top,” she adds.

Final Thought: Even though government has become an overbearing burden to many of our nation's creators, American entrepreneurs are a little tougher than most people realize. That much is evident in how Kerri has responded to the regulatory challenge. Instead of simply giving up, she has launched a full-fledged campaign for the right to bring her product to market.

Still, imagine how much more America's entrepreneurs would be able to accomplish if only the government would take its "boot off their throats."

Kerri’s campaign ends on Aug, 14 at 11:59PM PT, click the link below for more information:

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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