The idea for Handana, an absorbent wristband to wear during workouts, came to entrepreneur Katie Niemeyer while she was training for a marathon. Niemeyer is a survivor of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), which she described as “an autoimmune reaction causing your skin to blister to the point that you have second- and third-degree burns” when we first featured her. Though she has since made a full recovery, sweat still greatly irritates her eyes during runs.
To prevent the pain from curtailing her training regimen, she created the Handana as an alternative to the ineffective cotton wristbands that were on the market at the time — a simple solution that morphed into a full-fledged business. Since 2012, the Texas-based company has received quite a bit of attention. It was awarded a grant from Under Armour, garnered media coverage from the likes of Steve Harvey, and was used in medical research by Cleveland FES Center, a consortium of several esteemed medical institutions.
Thanks to Handana’s success, Niemeyer has been able to start up SJ Syndrome of Texas, a foundation that will raise funds and awareness for SJS research, and has become a public speaker on the subject. Her achievements have also inspired her two children to work harder toward their scholastic goals, she says — an especially meaningful effect of Handana’s growth in Niemeyer’s eyes. Indeed, for her, “creating a successful business has changed my life for the better because it gave me a platform to help others.”