Monday Motivation from Bimla Picot, Founder & CEO of Reboundwear
Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.
We sat down with Bimla Picot, Founder & CEO of Reboundwear, a company that creates functional, yet stylish post-surgery clothing. She discusses how watching her family recover from painful injuries motivated her business venture and her desire to disrupt the healthcare system in a meaningful way.
What inspired you to start your business?
When I was caring for loved ones, I could find neither clothing that was truly functional nor clothing that would accommodate all the phases of recovery after an illness or injury. My son underwent rotator cuff surgery and had to leave the hospital bare-chested and embarrassed because the large button-down shirt the doctor recommended we bring didn’t cover the arm sling and couldn’t be buttoned. In a period of just 6 months, several close friends and relatives had health issues and although the medical circumstances were varied, the common thread (pun intended) was that dressing was stressful for both patient and their caregivers, whether it was a medical professional, a friend, or a family member such as myself. I realized that, with today’s technology, surgery is seamless but the recovery period is often long and arduous.
After caring for friends and family who struggled with cancer, orthopedic surgery, and life in a senior home, I knew I had to put my design skills to work and create a better way for people recovering from getting dressed. I have been in the field of design for over 30 years. My experience includes designing and selling a line of baby clothing, working in sales and marketing for couture fashion houses, running the US operations of a premier French antique dealer and founding my own interior design firm. From these experiences, I gained a deep knowledge of manufacturing, marketing, and how to operate a business. These experiences inspired me to design Reboundwear, a line of clothing to make dressing easier for the millions of people who struggle with this task.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I’ve heard it hundreds of times: “I wish I had had your clothing during my chemo treatments” or “after my surgery…”
At this point in time, our greatest challenge is getting the clothing to the people who need it. Medical professionals are slow to adapt to change and it has been challenging to convince them to tell patients about Reboundwear before surgery.
Patients are becoming more proactive about their medical care and recovery, and they are independently searching the internet for as much information possible about what to expect. When we first launched, customers would contact us to say how helpful the clothing is, but they couldn’t understand why their doctors and physical therapists hadn’t told them about Reboundwear. Now, little by little, medical professionals and therapists have been reaching out to us to inquire about carrying our information in their pre-op packages or waiting rooms.
What’s been the greatest reward?
Although our business is primarily e-commerce, we are in a unique position because we have a lot of customer contact which has resulted in wonderful relationship-building. The first calls we receive are typically to discuss the customer’s upcoming surgery and their concerns about dressing afterward. They are usually very anxious about the prospect of surgery and we explain that with technological advances in medical equipment these days surgery is usually seamless and recovery is what is long and often arduous. We share tips such as, if you’re going to have shoulder surgery, it’s a good idea to start to practice doing things with one hand and to stock up on foods that only require a fork or a spoon to eat. We write a lot of blogs that are helpful as well. Customers are comforted to have a conversation with a sympathetic ear. Many of them call or write to us after their surgeries to tell us how thrilled they and their doctors were with the comfort and functionality of the Reboundwear garment they purchased. They frequently place a reorder and ask for extra cards to bring to their doctor and physical therapy offices.
I hadn’t anticipated that our customers would be our most enthusiastic and successful ambassadors! Most customers are only too happy to fill out our surveys – here are examples of a few we received this week:
Your Lindsey top is definitely an answer to my quest to find post-surgery & months-long PT clothing!! Love the easy access to my pecs and scapulas! Both my care provider (sister) & my PT (w.40 yrs experience) are impressed. My sister always joked about the “100 steps” it would take to get me ready for bed/ready for the day. Dressing me was the source of much anxiety; at times causing pain, esp. early on. You have a wonderful product! As a designer myself, I can say, you definitely tapped into IDEO’s core approach: design happens at the fringes, not to the masses! Thank you! Chris Grosse
Great pants and excellent service!!!! Also, I liked the fact that I could hand wash the pants at night and they would air dry in time for the morning work in therapy at the hospital and rehab center.
You made my life caring for my husband easier, I do not know how I could have done it without these shirts. He wore the gray one to church with blue sling. Sharp.
My 80-year-old mother has not had her surgery yet, but if it happens (there are some questions now) we know it will be perfect for her. I am extremely grateful for the help I received via email when I was deciding on what product to purchase for her. The care and understanding I received…and patience with all my questions, made such a difference. Thank you for outstanding customer service! And very high-quality product!
What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
Reboundwear straddles 2 industries: Fashion and Healthcare
Our current healthcare system is like an aging, decaying dam, and each step the government has taken to update it over the years has achieved little more than putting band-aids on it. More worrisome is that healthcare has become a huge industry where patient care and outcomes seem like an afterthought for policy makers and insurance companies. But the current model is unsustainable. We are now at a time when we are experiencing tectonic societal shifts and themes throughout our culture are calling for social responsibility.
I just attended my godson’s graduation from medical school, and the dean of the school implored the graduates to stay focused on the mission of doctors to put the needs of a patient first and foremost and to “stay on the human side of healthcare and to take care in caring”. The problem is that with the system we have in place today, it is almost impossible to put patient care first given the administrative and financial constraints placed on medical professionals. But with crisis comes opportunity. The Dean also said that “the time is ripe to disrupt healthcare and the graduates should go forth with bold ideas” with the tools of today’s advancing science and technology.
My experience at Project Entrepreneur reinforced this notion of disruption with bold ideas. Of the hundreds of entrepreneurs that have been recruited thus far, I am certain there are many who have the capacity to disrupt the healthcare system in a meaningful way. The dam will break, and these tech-savvy, bold women will be instrumental in building a new and innovative structure that will take us into the next century, and make the medical field, once again, patient-centric.
The inefficiencies of healthcare and patient care are mind-boggling and thus Reboundwear was inspired by the desire to improve and change the patient experience in and out of the hospital. Consider this: most of us get dressed in the morning and undressed at the end of our day. Easy. Now consider that a person who is in the hospital, in most cases, has a medical issue that renders them immobile. They are required to undo their hospital gowns several times a day to check vital signs, change tubes, drains, bedpans, and wound dressings. Under the circumstances, hospital gowns are actually not very functional for the caregiver or the patient and the humility factor only increases patient stress. Also consider that at a time when the healthcare is looking for efficiencies, dressing patients and seniors in assisted living centers takes so much time and physical effort. In fact, an aid in a senior facility spends 2/3 of their time dressing and undressing residents.
With Reboundwear, dressing takes seconds, not minutes. Our clothes make it less stressful and reduce heavy labor for both the amazing health aides and their vulnerable patients. It is practical, easy, and psychologically positive for a patient to be wearing fashionable, comfortable clothing that instills an experience of health and wellness as opposed to hospital gowns that convey a sense of sickness.
Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
Improving the lives of others has been at the core of my personal mission since I was a Girl Scout. I am passionate about Reboundwear because my clothing will make a real difference in the daily routines of millions of people. I have had many opportunities to see friends and family wearing the clothing while recovering from injuries, surgeries, and cancer, and I have witnessed the synergy between looking great and feeling better. The grateful feedback and reorders I receive from customers give me tremendous energy to continue growing Reboundwear.
Every achievement and milestone at Reboundwear has been the result of a collaborative effort. We have been surrounded by cheerleaders from day one. Friends, relatives, and acquaintances have been so kind and generous with their time and resources. People like our manufacturer, printer, material suppliers, photographers, and friends/models have been with us since the beginning and seen our growth. They all think that Reboundwear is a great concept and they believe in the product and its value to society. My husband has been a rock and very generous with his time and sage business advice. My sons are good sports with the “insanity” that goes along with entrepreneurship. They are always encouraging and think it is “cool” that I started this business. All of my kids and niece’s friends have given me unbelievable support and ideas. My past and current assistants are cheery angels and work horses. Our motto is that every day is a learning day and that has been true since our inception. I could not have achieved half of what I have without them. We are bootstrappers and the assistants are bold and game to try their hand at everything from tech, design, content, and marketing to name a few.
I am also inspired by the passion and perseverance of the healthcare workers and therapists I meet. They are intelligent, well-trained and passionate about giving the best care to their patients. They look beyond all challenges and treat all patients with a positive attitude. They and their patients help me to keep perspective on my professional and personal life.
Lastly, as a parent, there is no honor greater than having my daughter working with me. I am extraordinarily lucky to have someone of her caliber on my team. She is brilliant, balanced, practical and an efficiency expert—and I’m not saying it because I’m her mother. I have worked with all kinds of executives over the years and she ranks top among them.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
Organization, perseverance, and hard work are the keys to building a sustainable business. Don’t take shortcuts.
A lot of passion, guts, kindness, confidence, and a good sense of humor go a long way too. And don’t forget, in most things we create in life, whether it be building a business, raising a family, starting a charity or other organization, it takes a village- always give what you hope to receive.
What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I LOVE Monday mornings. I cannot wait to dig into the daily and weekly tasks in store. We look at our Survey Monkey for customer feedback from the previous week’s sales and so far, that has been the best motivator. All the feedback, both positive and negative helps us to set our goals for production, sales, and marketing. People are very honest and forthright with their opinions about our product.
Bimla is taking over the Project Entrepreneur Instagram page this week to give you an inside look at #PEAccelerator 2017. Follow along with her!
For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Jennifer Grove, Founder at Repeat Roses, a sustainable floral waste removal business that gives back to people and the planet. She discusses her motivation behind changing the status quo, the challenges of expanding a business, and her mission spread a combination of joy and sustainability throughout the country.