Tsawwassen 'mompreneur' in running for Small Business BC award
Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones.
That's what Boundary Bay's Marcie Weinstein Smith is hoping the judges are thinking when it comes to selecting a winner in this year's Small Business BC's Successful You Awards.
Her product, called the Tushi Stick, an all-natural diaper ointment applied from a stick dispenser has helped her business, Lovey's, make the final 10 in the running for the contest's Best Concept Award.
It's a product borne from necessity, says its creator.
Tired of dealing with diaper ointment getting under her fingernails when she applied it on her son, Weinstein Smith experienced an epiphany of sorts one day.
"Why not create something where moms don't have to get their fingers messy," she said. "It just kind of dawned on me. Why not put it in a stick form and it would be some much more convenient."
She did just that, after devising a formula for the product which also adhered to her commitment to produce an all natural ointment, one free of chemicals that can cause allergic reactions.
That again was derived from necessity since her son, Sam, about a year earlier, was experiencing allergic reactions to brands of diaper wipes—even those promoted as all natural.
Frustrated, Weinstein Smith developed her own diaper wash—called Tushi Wash—and later after getting plenty of interest from other moms experiencing the same problems formed her own company whose name comes from the way she likes to refer to small children.
"People would ask me about it. They'd tell me their child had sensitive skin, too and where they could get the solution? So, it kind of tweaked on me there was an opportunity there to bring it to other mothers who had children with sensitive skin."
Today, the Tushi Wash and Tushi Stick are being sold across Canada—mostly in B.C. and Ontario.
Locally, the Tushi Stick is available at Wellspring Health in both Ladner and Tsawwassen, and also Buttercups Children's Boutique in Ladner (Village).
And after getting increased exposure Weinstein Smith is learning the applications of the diaper ointment do not stop at kids' bottoms.
"Not only has it been great from a convenience standpoint—it really works well on diaper rash—a lot of people have told me it works successfully on eczema for adults and anti-chafing."
Weinstein Smith says one client ran the New York City marathon and used it to keep his skin from become irritated during the 26-mile event.
And one of her neighbours who uses a wheelchair uses the product to ease discomfort after sitting in one position for long periods of time.
Despite the encouraging response in the Canadian marketplace Weinstein Smith is aware of the jump needed to take her products south of the border.
According to the Real Diaper Association, Americans spend about $7 billion on disposable diapers each year—a huge market to offer a complimentary product.
"Right now we are still working on the Canadian market and educating moms to make a difference that way," Weinstein Smith says. "International markets are always a future consideration."
Right now the Successful You Awards are foremost on her mind.
Getting her entry in just before the mid-November deadline, Weinstein Smith says, "we're keeping our fingers crossed we can get to the next stage."
To make it to the top 10 level competitors required voting support from clients and friends on the Successful You website.
"That gave moms a voice and opportunity to vote what they thought was the best new concept."
The next step has the semifinalists go through a judging process who will review a presentation on the products.
Also in the top 10 finalists in the same category is another Tsawwassen-based firm, 505-Junk.
Run by founders Scott Foran and Barry Hartman, the rubbish removal service has customers pay by the weight on the trailer, rather than an estimated amount. The duo also recycles what they collect and also donates to charity any items deemed still useful and re-usable.
Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony Feb. 28 at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver.