Kristin Wald was a 19-year-old college student when she first invented the Shower Sidekick. She said she needed a safe, easy way to shave her legs in the dorm showers, so she took her idea to a plastic company and created her first prototype.
It would take her 12 years to get her product to market. In between college and founding Cotidea, a Los Angeles-based company dedicated to providing quality products that solve women’s everyday problems, she worked as a strategy consultant for a large consulting firm and then took a leave of absense to focus on the product again at age twenty-four.
“I started the patent process, which ended up taking a few years, and had everything lined up, but the manufacturing fell through. I then had a licensing agreement, which 2.5 years later also fell through. It has been a challenging road of ups and downs, but through it all, I focused on my deeper purpose – to help women. The past 2.5 years have been spent designing a strong, durable, safe, and beautiful product and lining up our manufacturing. It has been an arduous, long process and I’m so excited the product is now available,” Wald said.
Lioness caught up with Wald to find out how she launched Shower Sidekick, what kind of women we should have in our lives and where her company is headed for 2017. Check out our Entrepreneur Of The Day:
LIONESS: Why have you chosen to dedicate yourself to this particular business/industry?
WALD: My freshman year of college, I was studying Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while simultaneously participating in a sorority, performing in musicals and working part-time at a restaurant. Needless to say, I was always in a rush, even while embarking on what should be the simple and uneventful task of shaving my legs. I was crammed in a small shower with my foot hiked up on the tile wall, water in my face, and patches of leg hair blossoming in awkward-to-reach places. Then, my foot slipped and I cut myself. I couldn’t help but laugh; with all the advancements in medicine and technology, women were still struggling with a task as simple as shaving their legs. As a female inventor, I know how hard it is to take a product to market, so the ‘big goal’ of Cotidea is to help other women take their products to market. That is my real dream – to empower more women. My hope is to not only inspire more female entrepreneurs and inventors but also support them by donating a portion of proceeds to initiatives that will help women like me fret a bit less while taking their products to market – it’s hard! But worth it! And I love taking calls and emails from fellow inventors, sharing my experience and helping them along the way.
The perseverance to continue with the product after multiple setbacks is due to my deep knowing that the vision for the product was special – it was a ‘Divine moment’ and I want to honor that inspiration by seeing it through. One of my mentors, my mother, always says to me, ‘See it through to its logical conclusion.’ After each setback, it didn’t seem like the story was over, so I kept going. I also have a lot of people cheerleading and believing in me and the product when I didn’t believe in myself.
Cotidea translates to ‘Daily Goddess’ in Latin, because I want women to acknowledge and celebrate their goddess within everyday, not just when they’re walking the red carpet, but also in the ‘in-between moments’ when they’re shaving their legs or glowing bright orange after leaving a tanning salon. You are a goddess in every moment of every day, because we are born with that power – it is an innate gift. I also want women to acknowledge the goddess within each other. I truly believe in the mantra – ‘women helping women’ – and I have experienced and seen too many women hating on each other. That hate is just a distraction from our purpose – to unite and be intuitive, generous, nurturing, powerful forces in the world. Instead of turning on each other, let’s come together and be heard.
The Shower Sidekick is the flagship product for Cotidea, and we have an entire line of products planned. I’m excited for the upcoming products – mostly because I know I want them, and I know they can help many women everywhere make their lives a little bit easier.
LIONESS: What makes your product unique?
WALD: The Shower Sidekick is a patented, portable, adjustable shower shaving stand. The fact that you can slide the platform off and attach it to the pole makes it easy to store and take with you on vacations, to the gym, and from your dorm room to the shower. Also, the way that it functions is unique – when you put pressure on the platform with your foot, it locks the product in place. Most other products have suction cups, which can’t be trusted or they are very large and expensive (e.g. teak stool). The Shower Sidekick is a very affordable, attractive product that comes in teal and lavender and is convenient for very small, stand-up showers. We’ve designed it for strength and stability, while also taking into account the importance of being small and lightweight for easy travel.
LIONESS: You could have worked for anyone and would have been successful, why become an entrepreneur?
WALD: Some days I ask myself the same question. It is not an easy road. Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My mother and father are both entrepreneurs. From a young age, I thought outside the box. At age seven, when everyone was selling lemonade on street corners, I decided that a holiday-themed ‘candy cane stand’ made a lot more business sense. I borrowed startup capital from my parents which I had to pay back, bought my first inventory, set up my sales booth on a reliable, busy street corner and made my first profit. My internal belief system of ‘If it ain’t broken, there still might be a better way’ has led me throughout my life, especially in my journey as an inventor, but it didn’t always make me popular in corporate America – constantly looking for a better, different way – streamline, improve.
LIONESS: What was your last, “why did I go into business for myself” moment?
WALD: I think about this every time I hit a ‘what do I do now’-wall. Not one step in this process has been easy – not even picking out the colors and I thought that part would be really fun. The most recent moment was when the first 150 units arrived at our office and I thought to myself, ‘Now what?’
I haven’t ever been in sales. I studied Medical Microbiology and Immunology then went into consulting and then jumped into standup comedy and comedy writing instead of going to business school. I started with the basics. I reviewed every single unit for quality control, opened an Amazon store and now we are sharing the product with as many women as possible.
If women don’t know about the product, it can’t help them, so I’m now figuring out – how do I get people to see it? It’s been humbling to pause at every single step of the process. Reaching out to other people who have ‘been there, done that’ helps a lot. I’ll never forget looking at all of those boxes of Shower Sidekicks in awe – the product actually existed – and then thinking… ‘Ok, now what?’ As an entrepreneur, I haven’t become a Subject Matter Expert in one field – I’ve been figuring out multiple aspects of the business as I go along, which is a fun adventure.
Whenever I felt doubt or fear, cried about the product in my car, cried about the product at home, or cried about the product when my fiancé and I went out to dinner (embarrassing, I know), I remember my primary purpose with the product – the reason I invented it in the first place – to help women.
Culturally, women are met with so many pressures, and if something as simple as a portable shaving stand can alleviate some of the stress that comes with those pressures, then I will proudly be known as the “shower shaving stand inventor.” Every day that I get a review or a comment from a woman who loves the product, I smile and keep going.
LIONESS: Every female professional should have ___________.
WALD: A core team of cheerleaders and supporters to turn to and a group of soul-led, trusted women to call when life gets weird because it has a tendency to do that.
LIONESS: If you could steal some business mojo from another mogul, who would it be and why?
WALD: I’d love to have conversations with Sarah Blakely, Lori Greiner and Joy Mangano. Product women who pushed through and have brought products to the world that help people. My goal is to be Joy Mangano for the millennials.
LIONESS: What is your business motto?
WALD: Don’t be a dick. And if you’re a dick, apologize.
LIONESS: If you could give other entrepreneurs three tips, what would they be?
- Know your ‘why.’ Why are you building this business? What is your greater purpose?
- It’s going to be hard and doubt will be knocking at your door every step of the way. Listen to the doubt, thank if for joining you and then ask it to leave. You’ve got work to do.
- Incredible breakthroughs come at unexpected moments. Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle. But also, don’t hold anything as precious – be willing to let go of your idea or your ‘perfect’ way of doing something to allow for greater opportunity and inspiration to appear.
LIONESS: Has there been a piece of technology or software that has been a lifesaver to you?
LIONESS: What is your goal for the next year?
WALD: My goal is to help as many women as possible shave their legs in an easier, safer way. The goal is to be in retail for Back to School 2017. I invented this product when I was in college, and I’d love to help college women make their transition to dorm-living and college as easy as possible. We’ll also launch two new products next year. I’d also like to help at least one female inventor get one step closer to getting her product to market.
LIONESS: When someone is telling their friend about your business, what do you hope they say?
WALD: Cotidea makes beautiful, easy-to-use, thoughtful products that make women’s daily lives easier. Cotidea stays true to its core message of women helping women and has inspired many female inventors to pursue their dreams.