How a Broken Foot Inspired an Entrepreneur to Launch an Award-Winning Business
February 26, 2015 | Inspiring Stories
By Sarita Harbour
When Christina Daves broke her foot in 2010, she discovered the opportunity for a new business among the inconvenience and pain of a broken bone.
“I had recently sold out of my retail store and had officially ‘retired’ when a freak accident left me with a broken foot and an awful, big, clunky medical boot,” she says. “I was headed to New York City the following day and thought to myself, ‘I cannot go to the fashion capital of the world in this boot.’”
Dismayed at the look of the ugly black boot the doctor presented her with, Daves researched more fashionable options during her journey to the Big Apple but found nothing. She immediately saw the opportunity for decorative accessories for medical boots.
“I held focus groups and found that there was certainly a need to make people feel better about themselves while they are recovering,” she says. “And with that, CastMedic Designs was born.”
CastMedic produces medical boot accessories such as faux-fur cuffs, fashionable wraps, liners, and click-on removable flowers as well as buttons to dress up and personalize the plain black medical boots commonly issued to patients recovering from fractures.
Though she was approved for a Small Business Administration loan, Daves chose to finance the business launch using her home equity and zero-percent credit cards. She then found an inexpensive way to create her boot prototype.
“The first prototype was actually sewn by a grandmother in my neighborhood, Katie, who used to do sewing as a side business out of her home,” she says. “I had an idea and brought her the boot and fabric, and we played around with different styles until it was perfect.”
Fast forward to 2014, and Daves’ business is thriving. Daves and her CastMedic Designs have been featured on numerous radio programs and television shows and in 2012 won television personality Steve Harvey’s Steve’s Top Inventor award.
Positive Attitude Keeps Entrepreneurial Fires Burning
Daves credits a positive attitude with her ability to launch and grow a variety of businesses over the years.
“I’ve often been told my positive energy is infectious,” she says. “That is how I choose to live my life and run my businesses. I create businesses I’m passionate about and love to share with the world.”
Her entrepreneurial journey started in her early twenties, when she was on her way to an international business job in Germany. Her father was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and passed away within six months. “That changed everything for me,” she says.
Daves stayed in the States to be close to her mother and sister after her father’s death. Along with some friends, she launched an event-planning business focused on introducing single “20-somethings” before moving on to a job providing feasibility studies for data centers. She then opened a “cute little boutique” in Haymarket, Virginia, with her best friend before selling her share in 2009.
The Secret to Success
For a business to be successful, Daves says that an entrepreneur needs determination and a continuing passion, even when the initial enthusiasm starts to fade.
“Being an entrepreneur does have its ups and downs, but I always tell people to go back and find that original passion and drive that caused you to start your business,” she says. “Go back to the highs and how great that made you feel.”
Daves says when her own naturally positive attitude starts to fade, determination carries her forward. “Even as rah-rah as I can be, I’ve lost momentum with CastMedic at times,” she says.
For example, when Daves couldn’t convince doctors to sell her products in their offices, she became frustrated, but she didn’t give up. “I had to find other avenues to sell the product, which have taken longer … but still work.”
Entrepreneurs can view each new sale as a step toward success and a reason to be encouraged. “Do what you can to create new highs to keep the momentum going,” she says.
Finding Business Opportunity in Adversity
Daves is a good example of how a positive attitude can help you find business opportunity even in a negative situation.
“I am a firm believer that your passion and attitude can take you really far in life and I believe that anything is possible,” she says.
And what about when things don’t pan out?
“Failure is not the end of the world,” Daves says. “It’s a fork in the road.” The important thing, she says, is to keep going, even when those around you may not ‘get’ your vision. “Your attitude and passion can change minds,” she says.
Originally published on Northwestern MutualVoice on Forbes.com.