Friday, April 30, 2010

Inventor Showcase: The Breast Chek Kit

Now that Linda Lewis, the inventor of The Breast Chek Kit and extraordinary business woman, has been introduced in the previous blog posting, I am please to be showcasing her product and letting her tell her story in getting her product to market.  Anyone reading this will be amazed and inspired by her vision, tenacity and perseverance.  I am extremely proud to have her part of the Womentorz community.

Q. How did you come up with the idea of your lifesaving invention?
When I was younger, I never knew how to perform a breast self exam and so never did one. When I did learn, I did it as a hit and miss type of thing...touch here, feel there, but never the correct way. Breast Cancer is one of the cancers that run in my family so as I got older and as my immediate family were being diagnosed with breast cancer, I started to take performing an exam more serious. I was to young to get a mammogram so I learned how to do an exam the correct way. Some time later, I found my first lump while doing a breast self exam.

As the owner of lingerie boutiques I provided custom mastectomy and bra fittings as a service to customers. After years of hearing the issues associated with not knowing how to perform a breast self exam from customers, or being afraid to perform the exam, I started showing women how to do the exam along with the bra fitting service. However, it was not until a request came from a customer and hospital administrator for a product that clinicians could use in a classroom setting that the concept for the shirt was developed. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I worked in corporate America for a fortune 500 company, so I called on a few old friends from various backgrounds to form an exploratory team.

Q.  What unique features does your product inherit? 

The Patented Breast Chek Shirt is a thin seamless knitted garment that has a traceable & trackable diagram for performing a breast self exam knitted into the garment. Once on, the shirt & diagram molds to fit the breast. It [diagram] covers all of the breast tissue, including lymph nodes under the arms and up to the collar bone areas. 

A specialized knitting process causes the diagram to be slightly raised so women who are visually impaired can feel and follow the diagram do an exam; and, the shirt works exceptionally well for women with breast augmentation. 

The shirt can be worn while taking the exam standing up or lying down. The characteristics and fit of the shirt, allows for the natural sag in a woman’s breast while standing or lying down, it also accommodates for the breast as it falls to the sides when lying down to do the exam. The kit also contains a special fabric marker so that if a lump or bump is located the wearer can make an X wherever a concern is located to track the movement or growth of a lump or bump. There is also an annual calendar with a place for notes and date of when the exam was taken. All of which makes it easier to remember exactly where the lump was located for the wearer and easier to discuss and share findings with a physician.

The yarn used in the knitting process allows the shirt fit a wide range of breast and body sizes, from bra cup sizes A-KK and above and band sizes 28 & up.

"The shirt is NOT a replacement for having an annual mammogram or seeing a physician."  It is a tool for educating women and young ladies starting at the age of 20 to become more familiar with how their breast look and feel making it easier to notice any changes in their breasts.
Since younger women diagnosed with breast cancer often experience a more aggressive cancer, performing a breast self exam is most important. The earlier abnormalities are found, the more treatable. Visit us on the Womentorz website or visit our website for more comprehensive information at:

Q. What was your experience like in the actual design and manufacturing of your product? 

Complex, fascinating & exciting! Going from a retailer to wholesaler/manufacturer was a life long dream. Executing it was something entirely different!

First there was finding a person who could turn my so called sketches into an actual drawing and ultimately a pattern. Then, because the product is not a typical cut and sew product, I had to locate yarn. Not an easy task! Because of my experience in the intimate apparel industry, I knew bra pattern makers, but did not know about the complexity of sourcing and importing yarns or knitting manufacturers. It was only when a yarn specialist from an importer took me under her wings, did I have a crash course in the various yarns, knitting machines and the benefits of all of them.

I envisioned a seamless product from the beginning that would have all of the characteristics the product ultimately has, but getting to that point was another story. Seamless manufacturing is a unique process that is only done by a handful of seamless manufacturers in the U.S. with specialized knitting equipment. Yarn is imported from countries around the world so learning about so many different types of yarns and their benefits was a huge undertaking.

Nonetheless, I began knocking on doors. None of the seamless manufacturers I contacted had ever attempted to create a computerized program for a knitting machine that could knit a shirt with such precise detail in the diagram, so research and development was interesting, time consuming, as was fitting the diagram to accommodate the range of breast sizes needed. That called for many different programs to be created. Once created the testing and color tests began. I had no idea in the beginning that all knit products come without any color, so experimentation and another crash course for me in various dyes and color!

There were so many steps to getting a product as complex as this to market that it would take more time than we have here. However, I must say that every manufacturer I worked with loved this project from beginning to end. As for me the exhilaration of watching the first raw shirt being knitted from a bolt of yarn to a potentially life saving product is one that I will never forget. With the help of these manufacturers, the product came to life in record time.

The Breast Chek Kit Shirt just received its first of 2 U.S. Patents on April 13th. a process that was 4 years in the making. Going through that process while also trying to get the product to market has been a test of faith and patience. We hope to have the 2nd Patent in 2011 or 2012.
"There were times when I was so tired that I wondered what and why I had taken on such a project. But each time I had those thoughts, I would meet someone at a trade show or a health fair where women would share their story with me on how the early detection of breast cancer saved her life. It was those types of stories that kept me going and knowing that this product is much bigger than me and that it could truly help women."

Q. How do you balance launching a new business with family?

It's difficult for me at times because I am driven and passionate about my businesses and can become immersed in work so I tend to work very long hours and travel frequently. My husband knows this and some years ago as a joke he started putting up a "Closed" sign on my office door and tried to lock me out of it. As he stood there with the keys and a smile, I got the message loud and clear. So when it looks like I am burning the candle at both ends he keeps me grounded from going over board by placing that "Closed" sign on my door! I have come to count on it. At the end of the day though, it is the love I have of my faith, my husband and family that keeps me balanced.

Q. What did you do prior to your invention?

I owned a designer lingerie boutique with 2 locations and an online store of the same boutiques and worked in corporate America for over 20 years.

Q. What fact would readers find interesting about you?

That I love antique car shows, I am a huge fan of Formula 1 racing & drag racing and I am learning how to ride a motorcycle so I can ride with my husband

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knowing the Lingo Goes a Long Way to Retail Stores Taking you Seriously.

I feel like I’m learning something every day from the most amazing people.  I knew that Linda Lewis had an unbelievable and lifesaving invention with the Breast Chek Kit when I first met her, but I had no idea the wealth of knowledge and vision she possessed.  She is the type of person that doesn’t let anything stand in her way and learns by simply doing it herself.  I will have more information in future postings on hr nonprofit organization called the National Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation and will be showcasing her invention following this posting.  This article will be a nice introduction to the type of woman she is....someone wanting to help and support women whether it's through health issues or sharing her story and knowledge to entrepreneurs.

When presenting the Breast Chek Kit to numerous large retailers there were some common and very important questions that came up.  They loved her product, but she could tell that if she didn’t understand what they were asking she didn’t have a chance of getting her product in their stores.  One of these stores is the very well known Macy’s where through her tenacity and perseverance she was able to get her product showcased and is up for approval because she did her research.  It was terrifying, but she realized that she COULD do it herself and didn’t need to hire a so called “expert”.  Here are the most important items you need to have for your product if you plan on getting into stores:

You don't need  an RN Number, but it helps a lot!
A registered identification number or RN is a number issued by the Federal Trade Commission, upon request, to a business residing in the U.S. that is engaged in the manufacture, importing, distribution, or sale of textile, wool, or fur products. Such businesses are not required to have RNs. They may, however, use the RN in place of a name on the label or tag that is required to be affixed to these products.  Here is a link to where you can obtain this number:

You should get your own Bar Code
I had no idea that this is something that large retailers will ask you.  It is very important to not skimp on this and make the initial investment and be careful where you obtain your bar code.  Every style and size will need its own bar code, so this can get quite expensive depending on your product.  Here’s more information about what you will need to know about obtaining a bar code:

You should also find a qualified EDI Provider...and there are many to choose from.  Linda  really likes Infocon Systems because they took the time to explain the entire process to her.

If you have apparel that you long to get into Macy’s and Bloomingdales, here is what you will need to know to get into their stores:

Though this process was intimidating, if you do the research and believe in yourself and your product you can relatively easily obtain the knowledge and items required to get your product in stores anywhere!  Linda is a try inspiration!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Inventor Showcase: Freedom Wand

I am so thrilled to be showcasing the Freedom Wand, invented by Deborah Tacoma, because it brings independence and dignity to so many people with various disabilities.  It has been such a joy getting to know Deborah and I am honored to have such a life changing product part of the Womentorz community.  Lets learn more about how this invention came to fruition:
Q. How and why did you come up with the idea of your invention?

I was in a car accident in June 2006 and broke my back, I was also over 300lbs so…while ”living” in a turtle shell brace for 4 months I realized that I could not reach to deal with some personal hygiene issues names, wiping, shaving, applying ointment on a raw bottom or bathing.  I could not find anything on the market that could help me with those issues so,   I created the Freedom Wand.  Also, realizing that many people live with limited reach issues their whole lives I thought it about time something become available to help them regain their independence and dignity.  I invented the Freedom Wand to be Multitask and Multi length so anyone at any size or shape would be able to regain their independence and dignity.

Q.  What unique features does your product inherit?
While I do have some competition, my product is the only one that is Multi Length, can be used at 7, 14 or 21” and if longer is needed extra extensions can be ordered. It is also multitask. knowing the 4 difficult things I wanted to take care of for myself I created it to be able to hold all those items needed with one tool.  I also wanted it to be very portable so I made it to be able to come apart and fit nicely in a purse, walker or wheelchair bag or backpack.  My carry bag is also made of cloth so it is easy to throw in the wash and also very discrete.

Q. How does your invention change the lives of others?
I have had so many stories told to me over the last two years but a couple of them that stick out are:
One young boy, who is a Little Person,  living in a different country was going to get “kicked out of school” if they could not find a toilet aid for him to use since their policy was that he needed to be independent in that area.  He can now stay in school and that just touches my heart deeply!
One gal called crying that she is now finally able to leave her house!  She had not been out or to church in years because she could not reach!

Right now I have a little 4 year old who was born without any arms working with the Freedom Wand to see if she can be more independent with it.  She uses her feet and is so good that she can screw a nut on a bolt with her toes!  Now that AMAZES ME!  We are still not sure if it will work for her but….I sure hope so!

"I would not have enjoyed the freedom of independence that I have had since I got out of the hospital without it. Great work. " Tom

"I am extremely pleased with my Freedom Wand.  With my limited mobility this has been a God Send for me. Thank you for your product and your help!" Monty

Q. What was your experience like in the actual design and manufacturing of your product?

Well, that is quiet a story, I used many different items from my home and store to try and create just the right angle, ease of use etc.  I finally had the idea in my head and so called a friend of mine who was going to college for Industrial design to meet me.  He was able to draw out what was in my mind and from their he did some prototyping and between him, my injection mold manufacturer and tool and die shop we were able to create just what was needed.

The one thing I have learned is that your “product” will always come under scrutiny, mostly by you, not everyone will  like it, and it will continue to evolve even after you start selling it.  That is a normal process with inventions. I keep thinking about the first computer, it was the size of your desk, now they are the size of your palm!  The key is to make it as best as you can and start selling it!

Q. How do you balance launching a new business with family?

I am one of the lucky ones, my children (3) were all almost out on their own, graduated from high school, and into college or their life job.  So,  I was experiencing the empty nest syndrome.  I had the time to dive into this new adventure with both feet and boy, most days it takes way more than just your 2 feet!

I am learning, after 3.5 years that I need to get some sort of balance back into my life!  I lived, breathed, slept this endeavor and really did not handle it all that well when I look back but…I would probably do it all over again if I had to.

Q. What did you do prior to your invention?

I was a stay at home Mom, did some odd jobs here and their throughout the years my kids were growing up. My husband owns his own plumbing company and I was his office manager.  That is about it, I do not have a single degree behind my name or one single college class! So…there is the proof that anyone can do it if you determine in your mind to just do it!

Q. What fact would readers find interesting about you?

I have a passion for women who are in or getting out of emotionally abusive relationships.  My desire is to be able to employ a few at a time and help them understand who they are in Christ, what gifts and talents they have and help them get back into the work force with confidence doing what they were created to be doing and able to support themselves.

Monday, April 26, 2010

May 6th is National Mom's Night Out

Mom's are constantly giving and giving to everyone and usually forget to that's important to take care of themselves every once and a while in order to rejuvenate and recuperate.  This is the reason why the National Mom's Night Out was encourage moms to take a night out for themselves.  

The entire month of May is focused on celebrating motherhood with Mom's Night Out on May 6th and Mother's Day on May 9th.  The Womentorz blog will be a providing great ideas on products and activities to make these holidays the most celebratory as possible.

This day and age it makes more sense to throw a Girl's Night
Out at your own home.  You don't have to worry about your girlfriends driving around having had too much to drink and it's much less expensive than hitting the town.  Having said that, having a good old fashioned slumber party would be a great way to celebrate safely.  Here's an example of what elements this party could have:

The plan: Lounge in your PJs, eat comfort food, take in a new or classic chick flick, and gab until dawn. Each guest arrives with (or in) her comfiest jammies and a sleeping bag.
The food: Take-out pizza (and lots of it), popcorn and assorted munchies. For dessert, create a sundae bar, with several flavors of ice cream, sauces, nuts, M&Ms, sprinkles, marshmallow topping, whipped cream, cherries… you get the idea. Surprise the girls later with a chocolate and reaspberry cheesecake.

The drinks: Fun blender drinks. Try frozen pineapple daiquiris, melon margaritas and pina coladas – if you can get your hands on two or three blenders, all the better. Remember to have lots of ice!

Here are some great gifts and products to make the event even more fun:

The DivaGirl Game
DivaGirl brings all the fun of girlfriends into a great Girls Night Out game.  Dress up in your favorite Diva wear and leave your everyday world behind and enter the fun and carefree world of girlfriends and DivaGirl.
Hookupz Charms
Give your girlfriends the gift of their dream man.  Hookupz Charms is the guilt free way to have the perfect guy attached to you at all time.  Trade and collect these hilarious charms and have a fun secret only you and your girlfriends will know about.

The Chair Bib
If you're wanting to protect your valuable chairs, but still want a cover that is fashionable then The Chair Bib is your answer.  The Chair Bib comes in many different fabric options and is water proof.  Just put it in the wash after your party and they're as good as new.  Now you can safely serve red wine without the worry.  T

Lizzie Lou Shoes
Bring the bling, bling to your party and impress your friends.  This is a great gift for your Girl's Night In Spa Party to admire your new pedicures.

The Breast Chek Kit
Make something that's a serious subject matter and not always discussed a fun topic for your party with the lifesaving Breast Chek Kit.   The Breast Chek Kit is a 4 piece self breast examination kit consisting of the "Patented" Breast Chek Shirt a unique reusable knit spandex & nylon shirt with a superb fit for any breast size from an A cup to KK cup and above. A fabric maker, an annual calendar and instruction card are also included. 

Inspirational Cards To Encourage Exercise

Are you and your girlfriends trying to be inspired in becoming more physically active?  Banana Blossom, LLC create greeting cards that inspire, connect, encourage and celebrate everyday athletes. Our cards feature a unique, clean and minimalist design highlighting the inner thoughts of anyone who has a love/hate relationship with fitness and exercise.

Suitable Pajamas

This is the perfect gift for you girlfriends to hand out during a slumber party since it's the gift that will keep giving.  Every mother will thank you for giving her pajamas that she can wear anywhere and still be presentable.  This is a must have for all moms!

Grill Charms

Are you having a ladies BBQ?  Grill CharmsTM offer an entirely new concept in outdoor entertaining.   They are dime-sized solid stainless steel charms that are placed in your food BEFORE grilling. The serrated stems hold them in securely while flipping, moving and grilling food like you normally do. Grill CharmTM  food prior to cooking to distinguish spices and flavors, steak temperatures, or to avoid health or allergy issues.

Pieces of Me
This is a great gift to hand out to your girlfriends because they can all take a piece of the heart shaped puzzle.  Each stainless steel puzzle piece fits together to complete a whole heart, representing the group.  The individual puzzle piece charm is separated and worn on necklaces, keychains, bracelets, etc.

Isn't it time for you to plan your next Mom's Night Out at your house?  Happy partying!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Inventor Showcase: Sweet Princess Bowtique Silk Flower Hats

I hope you're all ready to see THE MOST ADORABLE baby product!!!  Every time I see pictures of the Princess Bowtique Silk Flower Hats invented by Tamara Picard-Orkwis it puts a huge smile on my face.  I love my two boys to death, but her product makes me wish I had a little girl to dress her up in these precious hats!  I know what I will be buying for my next baby shower for a little girl.  I am honored to have such a fun product available on Womentorz.  Lets all get to know Tamara and her invention:
Q. How did you come up with the idea of your invention? 

I've always loved unique photography pictures and the props photographers use and when I had my daughter Lilli in 2007, I knew I wanted to take pictures with her looking like she was a flower or a flower in a pot. I think those pictures are soo adorable and unique. I looked every where to find one but couldn't. So, I decided to create one myself and the Silk Flower Hat was born! Lilli was my first tester and once I saw it on her I knew I created an adorable product!

Q.  What unique features does your product inherit?

Each silk flower hat is hand made..each flower is had attached so each customer receives a one of a kind product.

Q. What was your experience like in the actual design of
your product? 

It was an exciting experience to be able to create a unique fashion accessory for baby's.  It was most important that the hat looked real and it was comfortable for the baby.

Q. How do you balance launching a new business with family?

It's been challenging, I can not lie.  With a almost 3 year old, trying to find time to spend time with her, cleaning the house, making dinner, laundry and the most important time with my husband has been hard. I've started to do most of my creating at night but feel like I still need more time for family. I think it's a learning process and I'm still trying to work it out! Hopefully meeting other talented women inventors with family's can offer some advice! :)

Q. What did you do prior to your invention?

I worked at a Fortune 100 Insurance Company as a Supervising Accountant.

Q. What fact would readers find interesting about you?

I guess the most interesting fact is that I'm a childhood cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with childhood leukemia when I was 8 years old. With the love and care of many doctors and family, I'm healthy and able to have a beautiful little girl and family. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebrating Earth Day with a Quick Pak Giveaway

Today is officially Earth Day!!!  As you've probably all seen, we have been celebrating this important holiday the entire month of April with a Quick Pak giveaway from Esse Reusable Bags.  We will be announcing the winner shortly, but I wanted to post all of the great tips that came over Twitter and Facebook.  Thank you to everyone who participated!  Everyone had wonderful ideas to help green up our Mother Earth!!!!

  1. Holly Jordan esse_bags Easy #green tip #8 is from @theladya and she suggests using Energy Star appliances when possilble (& dispose of the old ones properly!)
  2. Arlene Joy Feix madly59 @esse_bags & @womentorz Recycle your alluminum cans and plastic bottles #green
  3. mommyperks mommyperks Tweeting so I'll be entered 4 a "green" bag! Here is my #green tip (22 of them): @esse_bags @womentorz
  4. N.J. Vandenberghe lexiquin @esse_bags @womentorz Easy Tip for Going Green: Use non-toxic cleaners like baking soda and vinegar

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Inventor Showcase: Suitable Pajamas

I have to confess that I can usually be found in the middle of the day still in my pajamas.  With how many hours I work and juggling two kids there usually isn't time to get ready for the day.  When I found out about the Suitable Pajamas invented by Anna Bindley I was so thankful that someone has solved yet another problem many women face.  How great is it to still be in your pajamas, but look like a million bucks!!!!  Lets get to know this fascinating woman:

Q. How did you come up with the idea of your invention?

A.    There have been many occasions in my life where I was in my pajamas and was either embarrassed by somebody seeing me or encountering a situation in which I needed to change clothes.  Previously, I traveled frequently due to work. Getting room service or popping down to the lobby for a cup of coffee involved changing out of comfortable pajamas and back into work clothes. At overnight gatherings whether it be a ski trip or a weekend with my in-laws, I just wanted something that was attractive and flattering but all the while comfortable enough to sleep in. Working in the corporate world for an extending time as a “suit” and always wearing one, I loved how I felt wearing a suit. Wearing a great, flattering suit gave me confidence.  It occurred to me upon answering the door one day after working all day in my pj’s. “Since pajamas had both a top and bottom, shouldn’t they look like a business suit?” I knew I would feel good wearing a pajamas that looked like a suit. Martha Stewart has said that if it something you want and it isn’t out there, you may have a market. So, I created a prototype.

Q.  What unique features does your product inherit?

A. Our patent pending pajamas look like a business suit; slightly fitted jacket with matching pants in a fabric that is flattering and fashionable. This makes the pajamas indistinguishable from clothes you would wear out and about.

Q. What was your experience like in the actual design and manufacturing of your


A. Designing the Suitable Pajama was fun. I have a lot of designs around this concept that I eventually want to introduce. The biggest challenge with the first design was getting the fit right for the flattering look. As tough as it was, it was enjoyable and educational. I hosted a fit party for the fit samples and everyone tried on their size so I could make sure the product was graded correctly. My technical designer was present and we were able to record changes together. Getting the product manufactured required a lot of communication. Specifications have to be written, sewing samples are required and the follow up on the process is also key to a successful production run. Since the manufacturer is here locally, I can easily drive over to oversee production and I can feel good about touting that the goods are USA made at fair wages.

Q. How do you balance launching a new business with family?

A.    The way I try to balance my business launch with my family is working on weekends and late nights. Another way is that a good friend, who is also running a business and raising children, and I schedule play dates where the kids play and we work. That is the best way. Not only do we get a lot of work done, we can help encourage each other and brainstorm for ideas.

Q. What did you do prior to your invention?

A. Prior to starting my business, I worked in the fashion industry. My last job was with a software firm that serviced the fashion industry. I enjoyed learning the business side of the fashion industry.

Q. What fact would readers find interesting about you?

A.    I enjoy taking risks and like to dream big, really big.