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.
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