Aunt Flo, the little bird, monthlies, whatever all the girls refer to them as, our periods can be miserable. Even more miserable is our first time experiencing it. Kathy Pickus strives to eliminate just that with her product line, Dot Girl. The cute kit includes everything a girl could need to be prepared for the fist time. It also contains a small booklet to help parents educate and communicate with their daughters during this change. Dot Girl's company tagline really says it all: "Informed Girls, Empowered Women."
So how did it all start? After two decades of working for other companies, Kathy decided to provide for her family and pursue her dreams. Within six years of starting Dot Girl, Kathy's product has been honored with a Mom's Choice Award Gold Recipient as well as been featured at numerous expos, including the National Girl Scout Convention. Learn more and be inspired from Pickus' story highlighted in below's #SmallBizSpotlight.
What inspired you to get started?
"When I was 12 years old, my family was on a motor home trip when my first period started. I thought I was dying. It took about a day before I had the courage to tell my mom. A trip to the grocery store followed and I still remember my mom hiding the bag from my siblings and handing me a hygiene pad and belt with minimal explanation. I vowed then that if I ever had a daughter, she would be prepared.
Twenty eight years later that day arrived. One day, I picked up my daughter from school. She hopped into the car and told me they had discussed periods in class. Her reaction, “yuck” gave me the opening I needed. On the way home, we talked about periods and the role they fill in a woman’s life. She still was saying “yuck” but at least she understood that periods were just a normal step in becoming a woman. I put together a bag of supplies for her to use in case she was away from home when her first period started. I included a clean pair of underpants, feminine hygiene products and a washcloth. She stored it in her gym bag.
As it happened, she was home when her first period started, and in a very matter of fact voice, informed me what was happening. She was comfortable and I was pleased that such an anxiety-laden day for me was a simple transition for my daughter.
After this experience I realized that other parents might need help in explaining menstruation to their daughters. My goal was to create a tool to provide parents with the information they needed to explain the basics to their daughters. And for the girls, I hoped that having this information would lessen their anxiety about their first period and instead turn it into a positive experience. And so I created The Dot Girl First Period Kit®.
What was your background? Was it in what you are doing now?
For over 20 years I worked in Human Resources Management at various companies in the Pacific Northwest while also raising three wonderful children with my husband, Glen. All the while, I wanted to follow my dad's advice and start my own business. My sister Terri and I launched Dot Girl Products in December 2006. My sister left the business a couple of years ago to pursue her love of ceramic art. I am now the one and only engine behind Dot Girl and handle all aspects of the business on a full time basis.
What challenge have you had to face that led to a big growth for your company?
About two years ago I found out that I was not going to be able to re-order from my current overseas manufacturer due to quality issues. This was a blessing in disguise. Through my local networking group I located a new manufacturer in Dallas, TX. Not only did she agree to manufacture my product, she encouraged me to totally redesign it for mass market retailers. Through the sales and distribution side of her business the Dot Girl kit is now being presented to retailers such as Walgreens, KMart and Whole Foods. The potential for growth is endless.
What do you have going on in your business right now that you're excited about?
With my manufacturer we are considering a different version of the Dot Girl kit that will be available at a very low price to schools. Schools have always been a target market for Dot Girl and I am excited about having the opportunity of getting kits into as many schools as possible to educate as many girls as possible.
Where would you love to see your business in 5 years?
In 5 years, I want Dot Girl to be profitable enough to support it's own foundation that will center on menstruation education in schools throughout the country. I envision working with other non-profits to ensure that all girls learn about their bodies so they have confidence to manage their own female health needs throughout their lifetime.