Crites’ Shower Shirt Deemed a Product that Empowers Women’s Lives
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Lisa Crites, a Brevard County-based entrepreneur who honed her skills at Florida Institute of Technology’s weVENTURE facility in Melbourne, won second place and $10,000 this week in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER Business Challenge in Washington, D.C.
Crites, a breast cancer survivor who underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy, won for her Shower Shirt, a post-surgical, patented, water-resistant garment designed to prevent post-surgical mastectomy drain sites from coming into contact with water while showering.
“We salute these innovative winners for their remarkable ingenuity and creativity,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “We received so many thoughtful business ideas it was difficult to select the top three winners. This is how dreams are made for entrepreneurs across the country, with their insightful, practical solutions that will impact the economic strength of our nation.”
The InnovateHER Business Challenge was a nationwide business competition to unearth innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. This live-pitch competition is held during SBA’s National Small Business Week.
Finalists were selected from nearly 75 regional competitions held in March, including one hosted by weVENTURE, formerly the Women’s Business Center, at Florida Tech in Melbourne. The SBA sought entrepreneurs who created a product or service that will have a measurable impact on women and their families, fills a need in the marketplace, and has the potential for commercialization.
The Shower Shirt has shown that it both fills that need and has wide-ranging commercial potential. Introduced to the U.S. market in 2011, the product is now sold in Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and Austria.
The inspiration behind the creation came after Crites was told she couldn’t shower for three weeks after bi-lateral mastectomy surgery due to the risk of infection with her post-surgical drains.
“I began looking for a water-resistant garment for protection. Nothing existed so I utilized a trash bag,” she said. “Insulted by being wrapped in a plastic trash bag, I felt a product needed to be created for future mastectomy patients, thus, the Shower Shirt was invented.”
Crites’ story and the development of the Shower Shirt have continued to attract national attention. Both were featured in a profile this month by Forbes medical columnist Elaine Schattner.