A little over 9 years ago, I broke my foot in 3 places. I had one of those BIG, ugly black boots and a 2-year-old in diapers and a newborn. I always say that the story itself would make a very funny post (after the fact), but that is for another day. One of these days, I will get around to writing about the family vacation we took with a baby and a toddler in a double stroller and moi’ in a wheelchair with the boot, but today is all about the most amazing product which I only wished that I had back then. When they say ‘Moms are the mother of invention,’ there is a reason why it has become so overused – it is true. A few months ago, I was introduced to Christina Daves, Founder of CastMedic and quickly realized she gave birth to a product that I needed badly nine years ago.
A fellow mom with no experience in inventing like myself, I was excited to chat with Christina about her product and its success:
RB: What is your background (other than being a mom)? Did you ever see yourself as an inventor?
CD: I went to Virginia Tech and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and German. [Seriously? – RB]
I had no idea what to do with that, and certainly did not think it would be inventing products. Over the past 20 years I have founded and run 4 different businesses all focusing on various niche markets. Immediately prior to CastMedic Designs, I owned a retail store for almost 10 years. It was that background that gave me the knowledge (and confidence) to invent and manufacture a product I saw was missing from the marketplace.
RB: What past experiences did you draw from in order to help through the inventing process?
CD: As I mentioned, having a retail store was an enormous help in inventing these products. From designing the accessories to packaging to pricing, having a retail background was a huge advantage! And of course breaking my own foot… I was given a boot the day before I was going to New York, the fashion capital of the world! I thought, I can’t go to New York looking like this! After finding nothing on the market to dress it up, I realized that I couldn’t be alone in thinking this way. I held a focus group and everyone loved it (and almost everyone who came had actually been in a boot at one point or another). I knew then that I was on to something.
RB: So you had a background in retails, but what are 3 NEW things that you needed to learn quickly about inventing and how did you go about learning them?
CD: Perseverance – First and foremost (and the most difficult without question), was how to get the product made. I called factories. I called manufacturing associations. I called mills, distributors, wholesalers… anyone who I thought would jump at the chance to make my product. After 5 months of hearing no, I gave up on this method and tried to hire a retail specialist. The first one told me, “Do you know only 1% of all products are ever manufactured?” Obviously I didn’t hire him! Then I hired a manufacturer’s representative. It was a huge company whose name I was familiar with so I thought I was in good hands. For 5 months I was told, “Your samples are coming… we’re almost done” and then after I pushed and pushed, I was told “Sorry for the delay, our factory can’t find any faux fur in China”. I terminated that relationship and went to New York to a textile trade show and literally went booth to booth asking, “Can you make this?… Can you make this?” It was there I accidentally met a U.S. based manufacturer’s rep. I went to their office the next week and the rest is history. We have a viable product that we are selling. [I would say this shows perseverance – RB]
Financing – It is always going to cost more than you think it is. [YES!! – RB] In that regard, look at alternative financing options. I actually turned down an SBA loan, which is almost impossible to get for a start-up, because of the collateral they wanted. Look at 0% interest credit cards and your equity line if you can do either of those.
Exposure – I thought that with such a great, innovative product, I would be able to get it to market quickly. What I didn’t realize is that it takes time to introduce a new product. People don’t know the product exists so the demand is only there when people find out about it. I never anticipated the time involved in introducing the concept.
RB: I assume you made some mistakes (we all do) – How did you resolve those mistakes within yourself to move on?
CD: You set a plan in motion as you see it at that moment. You make mistakes; things change; you hit roadblocks. These just cause you to detour from the master plan. An inventor/entrepreneur has to have perseverance and be able to adapt as things happen. Always remember the passion you had when you started and I believe that can get you through anything!
RB: What would you say to the average ‘joe mom with an idea?
CD: I think moms have their fingers on the pulse of what is needed in the marketplace. If you need it, someone else probably does too. I say, “Go for it!” If you don’t have the means or time to do it all on your own, consider licensing the idea to a company. You’ll still get a percentage of the royalties of your idea.
RB: I love the story behind your product…as I broke my foot many years ago and wore the dreaded boot. What type of comments do you get on the product? What has been the best one?
CD: The response has been tremendous and all so positive! I guess my favorite one and the one I’ve heard over and over is… “I want to break my foot so I can wear your products”. Of course no one really “wants” to break their foot, but it is so great to know that if they do, we are here and can make a positive difference on the recovery process.
RB: Where do you see yourself and your products in a year or two?
CD: We plan on expanding the CastMedic brand to include other medical fashions as well. We hope to have a large distribution network set up in a few years so our products are easily available via doctor’s offices and retail stores.
Since then, in April we were named on of Startup Nations Leading 200 Moms in Business and then of course last week I was named Steve Harvey’s Top Inventor! I have partnered with one of the largest orthopedic suppliers in the country and through his distribution network we hope to have these products available in orthopedic offices throughout the United States. This way, when the doctor walks in the room and places the patient in the medical boot, right then and there they will have the opportunity to dress it up and instantly feel better about themselves before they even leave the doctor’s office.
RB: Do you have other products in mind now? Spoilers???
CD: I believe that no one should have to look unattractive just because they are recovering from an injury. After designing the boot products, I saw the need for so many other products. Right now I have an office full of prototypes that I hope to start bringing other products into the marketplace later this year.
I think this would have been the CastMedic I would have ordered nine years ago….
What do you think of Christina’s journey?