Editor’s Note: LifeSavers Wipes has been named to The Story Exchange’s list of 12 Brilliant Business Ideas.
Figuring out if you’re sick from the comfort of your own home? That’s certainly a concept we’re now used to, thanks to Covid tests. But Georgia Crawford’s LifeSavers Wipes, made from her headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, can do more – specifically, they tell if the user is unwell by way of personal hygiene wipes and toilet paper that change color to detect abnormal glucose levels in potentially diabetic individuals (with products designed to detect pregnancy and urinary tract infections on the way). The beauty of the product is it’s simplicity and functionality, as all that is required is the user’s regular routine of wiping after urinating, Crawford says.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about starting your business.
Diabetes caused my neighbor to lose her sight, because she did not have the resources to carry out the necessary monitoring. That placed the plight of persons in a similar situation in my heart. Over 14% of Jamaica’s population has diabetes and constant monitoring of glucose levels is essential to living healthy lives. However, while monitoring is quite common in [developed] countries, the vast majority of those affected elsewhere including Jamaica do not monitor. The consequence, according to the World Health Organization, is that 1.6 million diabetics die each year, and many more develop debilitating conditions such as blindness and loss of limbs. My aim was to ensure that an easier, more convenient and affordable way is available for a person to be able to tell if they need to seek medical attention. Pregnant women at high risk of developing gestational diabetes would also benefit.
How do you define success?
As a sociologist, I have a passion for people, hence success for me is about bringing about positive changes in the lives of people. It’s what I love most about the work I do, be it teaching sociology or working as a consultant in developmental sociology or through my innovations. Success is also defined in terms of my children and my ability to make the world a better, happier, safer place for the three of them to live.
Tell us about your biggest success to date.
We actually won the top prize in global innovations at the prestigious International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) at the Miami Beach Convention Centre on March 31. We joined Huggies Pull-Ups, Lysol Disinfectant Wipes and Procter & Gamble’s Swiffers in an exclusive group of innovative products seen as game changers in the engineered fabrics industry.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
We are aware that our product has the potential to save lives, but only if we could get it into to the hands of those who needed it most. We decided to seek alliances with large manufactures and distributers of wipes by attending a trade show, which would expose our products to key players. Having a booth at the trade show was expensive, and I was there alone as we could not afford to fly anyone else in. I did the set up and manned the booth all by myself. Our booth was very small in comparison to the others and we were booth 304. But attending the trade show proved to be a sensible decisionas not only did we meet potential partners, but it was there that we were nominated for the IDEA Award.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Just do it. Once you start pushing, the universe conspires to assist. Share your vision with family and friends and start toiling. You will be surprised how many are willing to toil along with you.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I dream. I envision it all becoming a reality, sharing the joys with my family, I speak it into being with my husband and usually that is enough to help me push through.
Who is your most important role model?
My parents. My father who had a vision for us that far exceeded our very very humble beginnings and kept reminding us that we could do anything. And my mother who showed us through her determination that is never over until it is over. ◼