10 Most Successful Women Entrepreneurs of 2024

Lisa F. Crites: The Award-Winning Inventor Behind the Revolutionary The SHOWER SHIRT®

Lisa's remarkable work has been recognized globally, with awards from the National InnovateHER series, the Small Business Administration, Microsoft, the Washington Post, the University of Portugal Patient Innovation team, the Women’s Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (WE-APEC), and the World Government Summit in Dubai.

By Business Outstanders
Lisa F. Crites: The Award-Winning Inventor Behind the Revolutionary The SHOWER SHIRT®

Lisa F. Crites, the award-winning inventor of The SHOWER SHIRT®. This innovative product has revolutionized the lives of breast cancer patients and individuals who have undergone chest surgery. With its patented, water-resistant design,The SHOWER SHIRT® provides a safe and convenient way for patients to shower and maintain their personal hygiene after surgery.

Lisa's journey as a patented inventor began after her own breast cancer diagnosis and bi-lateral mastectomy surgery. Frustrated by the lack of suitable solutions for keeping her surgical drain sites dry (as requested by her surgeon), she designed, engineered, and brought to market, The SHOWER SHIRT® to meet this critical need for breast cancer, as well as general chest surgery patients. Today, her product is available at over 1,000 mastectomy boutiques nationwide in the United States alone and can be purchased online through various e-commerce platforms, internationally.

Recently, Lisa shared her insights and experiences with us at Business Outstanders, discussing her inspiring journey, the groundbreaking development of The SHOWER SHIRT®, and the significant impact it has had on patients around the world.

In Conversation with Lisa F. Crites

What's the most important lesson you've learned throughout your journey as a woman entrepreneur?

First and foremost, being an entrepreneur is an extremely difficult road.  One must have perseverance.  One must believe their perseverance is stronger than that of any failure.  I’ve said I was going to quit this ‘Shower Shirt’ journey on a few occasions. But I would then wake up the next morning to realize that quitting was easy.  Persevering is tougher, and I’m tough, therefore, I was able to do more than I ever thought I could do.  

How do you prioritize self-care and maintain a work-life balance?  

I do not believe I have ever been proficient at prioritizing, or balancing self-care and my work-life.  I am a bit like my father.  I work, work, work, until I crash, for days. Then it is cyclical as I can easily get lazy, in trying to focus on self-care. So, once I have rested entirely too much, I work, work, work, again, and catch up with my writing projects and The SHOWER SHIRT® company.  

I was a television, health/medical broadcast reporter in the Orlando, Florida media market, for many years, which can be a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job.  Thus, I am used to working long, hard hours. My broadcast journalism career was well before being diagnosed with breast cancer. However, once diagnosed, my career trajectory immediately changed.  With that said, even after inventing The SHOWER SHIRT®, I have found ongoing health/medical, print journalism work. I still love the research and the opportunities to interview doctors/surgeons on varying medical topics. I am blessed to have been able to transition from television medical news, to print news so easily, while becoming a patented inventor in the process.

Though, in terms of the initial question, I believe I will always struggle with work, and self-care balance as it’s a difficult task to manage a company, while being a writer and print columnist, along with my extensive philanthropic work as I’ve been appointed to be a board of director on four non-profit boards.  

What's the most significant risk you've taken as an entrepreneur, and was it worth it? 

I would say fighting for The SHOWER SHIRT® patent. That was a risky and quite expensive venture. In the United States, it’s extremely tough to attain a patent. Luckily, our intellectual property was such that we were awarded a patent for both design and method of use. Our patent attorneys said we attained the ‘gold standard’ of patents. Many people work for many years to attain a patent, we were lucky to have been awarded one within a year of our initial application. Nevertheless, even over that year’s timeframe, it was not an inexpensive process, so a Huge financial risk.

Who is your greatest inspiration, and why?

I love Norah Fuchs. She was my elementary school music and private piano teacher from the time I was in third grade, up until I went to Murray State University, at 18-years old. I was awarded a music scholarship to attend the University, in Murray, Kentucky, and she was with me during my scholarship audition (along with my mother), playing a quite difficult classical piece of music.  Mrs. Fuchs and I are still close friends. Over time, our relationship has evolved from student to teacher; from a young 20-something, out of college, in which I think, both she and my mother wondered if I would do anything with my life as I was quite disheveled. Mrs. Fuchs was there when my mother passed away, and even played the piano at her funeral. There is not really a time in my life when I can ever remember Mrs. Fuchs not being in my life, since I was eight years old. Even at 57, I just received a birthday card from her. She has always been an inspiration to me. She will always be one of the classiest, smartest, and overly positive women I have ever known. A relationship which initially started as an educator, has become a special friend, second mom, and a huge inspiration.  

What's one thing you wish someone had told you before starting your own business?  

Those good ideas don’t always take off immediately.  I knew I had a good idea with The SHOWER SHIRT®.  I knew it was a needed product, but it wasn’t the easiest to launch, at first, as it was a product which had never existed before, thus, we had to teach people “why,” it was needed.

I remember reading a book called “The Impossible,” in which the author stated, it was harder to bring a product to market which has never existed, versus one where you change the concept a certain percent and then try to remarket. The SHOWER SHIRT®, had never existed so I knew it was going to be much tougher than a product which had simply been updated and rebranded.

Though, after a few months, we were lucky in that we were introduced to a group purchasing organization soon after The SHOWER SHIRT® launch which introduced us to a large group of Home Medical Equipment groups, Durable Medical Equipment locations and of course mastectomy boutiques. With that group, we had an introduction to the home health market, and since the water-resistant garment was so niched, it was immediately in the right place for patients to learn about the product.  

To this day, we have never really marketed the product traditionally, we just placed it in the universe, through the GPO group and it started selling. We only promote it through social media at this point. We are lucky that The SHOWER SHIRT® has become a pretty popular e-commerce product for chest surgery patients. 

Can you walk us through the process of developing The SHOWER SHIRT® from concept to reality? How did you overcome any obstacles or setbacks along the way?

I drew the initial schematic on a napkin. I gave that to my brother who is an engineer. My aunt and cousin created the first prototype. We went through five prototypes before finalizing the product. I gave several prototypes to doctors to have them given to their patients to shower in and evaluate. I cannot say we had any major setbacks, only positive feedback to better finalize that first order from our manufacturer. Since that time, we have updated the product only slightly, but have launched larger sizes as it is not a one size fits all product.

Domain: www.theshowershirt.com