Tricia Wood started Kangaroo Pump Pockets with her best friend, Melissa Cone, in March of 2007.
"We design undergarments for adults and children who wear insulin pumps," Wood explains. "Our goal is to help every diabetic child and adult feel like they can have an active life with normal clothing options while wearing their insulin pump." Products include undershirts with a pocket on the front, cami bras with a pocket along the neckline, and boxer briefs with a pocket on the inside thigh.
Wood is the mother of two daughters with Type 1 diabetes. "August 26, 2002, my daughter Abby, who was five at the time, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes," Wood recalls. Abby's older sister Katie was diagnosed in September 2007 at the age of 12. "When Katie was diagnosed we really felt like God was picking on us for some reason." Both girls are doing well, she says. "They sometimes struggle with the emotional part of feeling different. They still ask why them? I wish I could answer that question, but I can’t. They also ask when will the doctors be able to cure them? Yet again, I do not have an answer."
Kangaroo Pump Pockets is a full time job for Wood and Cone, who were both teachers before starting the business. And they're looking for consultants who want to start their own business, too. "We have been recruiting KPP Consultants in every state," Wood says. "We spent months working out the details of how to implement our KPP Consultant program, and in January 2008 we started recruiting. We expect to have twenty consultants on board by the end of the year. Anyone interested in joining our Diabetic Clothing Revolution can visit our website and click on the Discounts tab for more information."
Wood considers Kangaroo Pump Pockets to be a success after its first year of operation. "We have learned some hard, yet valuable lessons in the manufacturing arena, but we are wiser because of them. Even though we are just approaching our first anniversary, we have laid the groundwork for our business to grow dramatically over the next year." They've also earned accolades from customers. "They inspire me with their stories and their gratitude. We display some of the comments on the Testimonials page of our website."
"Melissa had the business experience I lacked to get the business off the ground," Wood explains. "We started by getting licensed and incorporated. Then we developed a logo and had a website put together. A few marketing materials, a though-out business plan, and a small business loan later -- voila -- we were officially in business. The hardest part was finding a manufacturer to take us on. All we had were ideas and a dream and neither Melissa nor I had experience in the clothing manufacturing business."
The hardest thing about running a business, Wood says, is "working on our manufacturer’s time line. We like things done now, and with manufacturing, “now” is usually six months down the road. Also, making our 'big ideas' manageable. We have come up with some incredible ideas, but breaking them down into the pieces that we can accomplish is overwhelming at times. It has never stopped us, but some days it has slowed us to a crawl."
The best thing about the business? According to Wood, it's "the network of people I have gotten to know that also struggle with the same things we do. Also, the proud faces I see in my children because we have managed to make something positive out of such a negative. The business has allowed me to become very active with my local JDRF chapter and the diabetic support groups in the Tampa Bay area. Being so closely involved inspired Melissa and me to start a diabetes support group in our area. It amazes me how our business keeps providing us opportunities to help others along our journey."
When asked whether other parents should go into business, Wood says, "I feel that you should always follow your dreams. You do need to be realistic about it and set yourself up financially in order to be successful. Both Melissa’s husband and my husband work full time in order to 'support our KPP habit.' You can't expect to start something and draw an income right away. You need to work towards the business supporting itself the first two years and then go from there. Businesses need time to grow no matter how good of a business it is.