"Aha!" moments can sometimes come as a flash. Mine, came more as a 'snap.'
In the fall of 2008, my then 10-year old daughter broke her humerus, the large bone in the upper arm (and no, it was NOT humer-ous at all!). Believe it or not, this was my daughter's SIXTH broken bone, and my heart just went out to her. Tests confirmed she did not have Brittle Bone disease -- she was just one of those kids (we all knew one growing up… Now I was raising one!). Elli, meanwhile, was miserable. Once again, her body had betrayed her and as a Mom, I wanted nothing more than to help her feel better.
My daughter had been complaining about her cast scratching her and snagging on things so I took out my 30-year old sewing machine and whipped up a simple cover for it, and a matching sling. It worked so well, I made a more colorful version. And, inspired by Halloween coming up, I then made another set. Elli was starting to get quite a few compliments at school and suddenly it hit me - this was a business!
With my background in sales and marketing, I immediately researched it and found nothing similar in the market. Our accidental creation, CastCoverZ!, was born. Our mission was simple: to provide fun and functional products that comfort orthopedic patients.
At first, our business was fraught with challenges. My original business partner and I split shortly after launching; our first large manufacturing order (nearly 1,000 units) was assembled with the wrong elastic and had to be re-done; and, most devastatingly, just nine months into our business, I was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer - less than one half of one percent of cancers are this one. So much, lost, all at once.
Cancer forced me to put on the brakes. I wanted to spend what little energy I had with my family, and that meant putting CastCoverZ! on the back burner while I focused inward.
Thankfully, after a year and a half, I came through my illness cancer-free. My family calls it strength, but I believe it was a stubbornness not to let my business fail, and a desire to be with my kids that got me through. When I was feeling better, I sat my family down and said, "Okay guys, I'm ready to kick this thing into overdrive." And I did. In three short years, our business has grown exponentially. I now have a team of four people, and our headquarters has spilled into a converted garage on our property.
[Related: Five tips for starting a business]
CastCoverZ! truly is a family business. My daughter inspired it, my son named it, my husband financed it, and I work it! And even though Rick still maintains his career in commercial real estate, he's picked up the slack in more ways than one: he drives the kids to and from school and helps around the house -- AND, since the morning I ran into his office overwhelmed and begging for help, he now spends a couple of hours a day fulfilling orders and making runs to the post office for me. Soon, my 16-year old son will take over Rick's duties as part of his summer job. In our marriage, sharing responsibilities like this allows us to play to our strengths; Rick knows my time is better spent growing the business -- and I know he definitely makes better fish tacos!
Whether casted, booted, splinted, braced or bandaged, I ensure CastCoverZ! always strives to help our customers solve their biggest orthopedic challenges. And my clients trust that I know what those are, being a mom of one of the most accident-prone kids on the planet!
Elli, bless her heart, is now 14, and since getting the idea for the business, has suffered two additional fractures. I've told her I'm grateful for the inspiration, but I've gotten all the ideas I need- she can stop breaking her bones now!
* All products made in the USA.