My story started about 22 years ago. I'm 42 now. As I look back, I have to smile at myself, Its been a long journey. Before I start, so I don't lose anyone that might read this, let me explain the subject that this story is built around. The universal problem: Pants or jeans or etc. riding up in the crotch (labia majora). I don't want to offend anyone, but I've always hated that. It makes you uncomfortable, and it looks really awful when someone's focal point heads down to your crotch because of it. I can remember it bothering me as far back as the age of 12 or 13. And for several years I actually thought I was unique to this problem. It wasn't until my 20th year that I figured out it was common to most women.
I was living in Mexico City at the time. And like allot of young girls, I was invited to do some modeling. Six months into it I was working almost every day. I did a couple of jean ads, and they would always tell us to turn slightly when we were photographed. Once I ask why? His response offended me: "We don't want 'camel toes' in the picture". That was it for me. I went home furious.
But that was the beginning. I was determined to make something myself to deter this problem. It started out like a thong made of thick rubber. I cut it out of one of those waist belts that help you lose weight. I made them for friends and other acquaintances I had met while working. It was somewhat functional, but not very attractive. Over a year had passed by now and all the while I had more and more girls asking me to make them one.
We then started the prototype process. My late husband was an engineer. He tried to help draw the various designs and contours needed. But we could never get it right. One day I got desperate, went and bought some modeling clay, and preceded to make a sculpture of my own pubis. (sounds sick doesn't it) I was obsessed. Marco (my husband) took the sculpture and had a perfect prototype made out of medal. The name? Rainbow Butterfly. That was the easiest part. I was sitting at my desk and a butterfly flew past the window. I knew I wanted to make it in different colors so Rainbow Butterfly seemed perfect.
We flew to Houston and hired a patent attorney. The idea and design were so simple we felt like we wouldn't have a chance at marketing the product without some kind of protection. We filed Utility patents in 6 countries. USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Great Britain, and France. We opted for utility patents versus design patents because we knew how easy it would be to make minor alterations to the design. Marco wanted to go ahead and launch it with just the pending patents, but not me. I told him I'd rather wait. I was now 22.
The other five patents came relatively easy, but I kept being rejected in the United States. I was up against Kotex, underwear, every patent you can think of that ever had anything to do with a women's anatomy. We kept arguing our claim. I asked for a female examiner, I grew desperate again.
I was finally granted an audience. We took everything we had and flew to Washington with our attorney. I waited patiently outside her office. I was scared. I knew this was my last opportunity. They called my name. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. I walked in and was so surprised to see the largest women I had ever seen sitting before me. She confessed that she had never been able to wear pants. We were only there for maybe 30 minutes, but we left with the patent granted.
By the time I was 30, we had a small but effective marketing campaign going. With the help of a wonderful PR firm, we started gaining recognition. Newspaper, radio, things were looking good. The results of the test market were more than I could have hoped for. Then we were invited to do the Phil Donahue show. I was so excited! I flew to New York filled with hope. Mr. Donahue mocked and humiliated me, and the other guest to the point of disgust. We were just one big joke to him. I was so mortified, I wanted to just hide somewhere and cry. But I was too angry to give him the satisfaction. To add insult to injury, less than a week after arriving back home the Gulf war broke out, and I lost the attention of the media.
And now for the first time during this journey I realized I was going to give up. I closed the office, dissolved the corporation and for several years I refused to think about it. But you know, it was always there, lingering like an elusive dream.
At 39 I couldn't turn a computer on. At 40 I started becoming aware of the medium we all had before us. By the summer of my 42nd year I realized the internet was a perfect environment to market The Rainbow Butterfly. I could bring the butterfly and other problem solving products to women in the privacy of their own homes. It would be just me and them. I loved it!
So we started putting everything back together again. Our web site will launch Feb. 1st of 2000 as: Rainbowbutterfly.com, Little Things That Make A Difference.
It has been a very long journey for me. If I had it to do over maybe I would do it differently, maybe not. I do know this though, never settle! If you have a dream, make it happen!