Pamela Fleischer Twirl

Pamela Fleischer is a former environmental attorney who saw a gap in the marketplace. When a friend was headed to New York City to receive cancer treatment she wanted to find a small gift, a token, she could put in her friend’s suitcase, so she wouldn’t feel alone. Her company Twirl was born from this initial seed, creating pillow cases and eye masks. But after debuting some of her products at a nurses’ convention, she saw there was a demand for other hospital related products: like front closing gowns and labor and delivery tops, to preserve patient’s dignity. In the years since Fleischer has created lines of front-closing gowns that are made from up-cycled materials. And when the Pandemic began last year she added a line of re-usable PPE gear to her collection. Today the Kansas City, Missouri entrepreneur is focused on reducing hospital waste and ensuring the comfort of hospital patients across the country.

Fleischer’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

Twirl’s product line has been an evolution. The first collection was gifts that honored life cycle events. A dear friend was headed to New York City for cancer treatment. I could not find a gift to tuck in her suitcase which would let her know my love and prayers would be with her. From that experience, Twirl’s “Love and Appreciation” Pillowcase sets were created.

I was raised during a time when friends and neighbors made casseroles for one another upon the birth of a baby, the passing of a family member or when someone had significant medical issues. As we are all often miles apart from loved ones these days, I wanted to create a gift line that had the same love “baked in” as those casseroles.  

The second collection I created was Patient Apparel. Nurses found out about Twirl when we exhibited the gift line at a a few nurses’ conferences. This line was then born from a demand from these very nurses asking us if we could manufacture front closing gowns and labor and delivery tops and skirts. Dignity for their patents is what they sought.

We sourced materials which were made from recycled plastics and had ridiculous longevity as they surpassed hospital laundry testing. The backward facing gowns with horrible mock-Jason Pollock prints did not serve their patients. And, they were using two gowns at a time – one facing backward and one facing the front to preserve the patient’s dignity.

[Related: She’s A Cancer Survivor Creating Soothing Supplies and Gifts For Those Undergoing Treatment]

The third and most recent collection is Twirl’s Reusable PPE Gear made out of the same materials as our Patient Apparel. The waste hospitals generate is unforgivable when there are reusable options. The photo of New York City nurses in trash bags as PPE gear was heartbreaking to me. Since we know COVID-19 can easily be washed away, it was easy to develop a reusable line of PPE gear. As a recovering Environmental Attorney, I am committed to green solutions and domestic manufacturing.

Twirl’s tag line is “Weaving Lives Together.” It is this acknowledgment that motivates me to create products from recycled textiles which touch both the recipients and the purchaser’s hearts and souls; whether it is the gift line or products purchased by a healthcare system’s supply chain.

When Twirl receives rave reviews either from the gift recipient or the purchaser, or when hospital department heads share the delight from both staff and patients that they LOVE Twirl products, I cannot imagine anything more satisfying.

I am a visionary and Twirl is a disrupter in the marketplace. Anytime we ask others to accept a paradigm change, it is challenging. Hospital systems are dinosaurs. The traditional back facing patient gown was designed in the late 1800’s to accommodate rectal thermometers. We are now in 2021 and we have touch-less thermometers and we still put patients in gowns where their tushes hang out. These usually have a life-cycle of 3 years. Twirl offers a 5-year replacement guarantee. Twirl offers a patient gown that not only addresses the financial bottom but also communicates to the patient that their dignity and comfort are of the upmost importance to the healthcare system.

[Related: This Health-Tech Founder Wants to Bring Data — and Dignity — to the Vaccine Rollout]

I constantly challenge Twirl to be an excellent corporate citizen. Companies like Patagonia or Ben and Jerry’s which not only produce excellent products but create a superior work environment, honor their employees, give back to the community and are committed to “green” choices. Companies like these are role models for Twirl.

In terms of role models, personally, my dad is my compass. This man has impeccable integrity and stands for what is right even when it is not a popular stance. Not only was he blessed with brilliance, he has set the standard for how we interact with and treat one another.

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Editor’s Note: The Story Exchange is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching the annual Women In Science Incentive Prize. Apply now for a chance to receive $5,000 in funding for your climate-related research or startup. Deadline: July 31. 

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