It may be a dream to imagine that a business would prefer a slightly smaller profit margin in favor of having a higher purpose, creating a great product and positively affecting the world. But why not take positive steps to champion these benevolent businesses?
This year we wanted to be champions for these types of business owners and recognize the most groundbreaking, game-changing and innovative products in a variety of categories through the Leading Women Awards and the Force for Change Awards. Through our call for nominations back in January 2021, we were looking for women and men who are changing the business landscape and consumers lives through their inventions and creating products with purpose.
A moving nomination caught our attention about a mother who created a socially conscious occlusion eye patch company for kids with amblyopia. We are thrilled to share our interview with Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur, Paige Brattin who is the founder of See Worthy Patches.
Linda Wellbrock: What are See Worthy Patches?
Paige Brattin: See Worthy Patches are adhesive occlusion eye patches worn by 1 in 45 children who are fighting amblyopia, the leading cause of childhood blindness. The eye patch serves to help strengthen a weaker eye, by eliminating sight to the stronger eye. See Worthy Patches have a patented shape, materials, and adhesives that make them unique to other patches on the market. These eye patches also help adult post-ophthalmological surgery or treatment as well as those with bels-Palsy.
Q: Why did you launch See Worthy Patches?
A: I was born and raised in New Jersey and attribute so much of who I am, my ambition, work ethic and moxie to that upbringing. I spent years teaching at all levels from pre-K to collegiate level. I owned one previous business and then put my career on hold for motherhood. When my daughter was initially diagnosed with her condition there was some question about whether it was caused by brain tumors. In the dark days we waited for test results, I made a pact with myself, God, the universe— whatever you want to call it — that if my little girl was OK and we made it out on the other side of this without a terminal diagnosis, I would dedicate my life to making this experience better for others families who go through it.
When I recognized the need to fill this spot in this market, improve this experience and give back in the process, it was a force greater than any other, and I had to move forward and create this eye patch. I worked for almost three years to innovate, update and better the existing product on the market. I worked tirelessly to find anyone to help me produce it in the U.S. but after three years was so grateful for the opportunity to produce in an American owned facility abroad so that I could finally get to market and begin to help so many.
Q: What is innovative about See Worthy Patches?
A: I completely revolutionized the adhesive eye patch. While 1 in 45 children globally need to wear an eye patch to save their sight — the current market options were antiquated. Materials and adhesives had not changed since the 1970s. I approached the innovation with the thinking that 30 years ago, we only had one type of band-aid, now the selection is staggering.
I knew if we changed the patch in every way, it would make it more breathable and comfortable for the wearer. I changed the shape so the adhesives do the “heavy lifting” above the brow, not under the eye where skin is most sensitive. I changed the materials so there are tiny holes to make it breathable. And unlike other bandages, I changed the spray coating application of adhesives to administering it in strips.
These changes have allowed for breathability and unparalleled sensitivity for users. When the patcher has more comfort, there is great compliance and thus effectiveness in treatment. I have patented all these elements and the innovations and changes I made are incredibly successful in that they do exactly as they were set out to do.
Other eye patches on the market continue to leave rashes and chaffing on babies faces, See Worthy Patches are the only patches on the market proven to not harm delicate babies’ or children’s faces.
Q: How does this product impact lives?
A: See Worthy Patches enhance lives in so many ways. When a parent finds out their child needs to wear an eye patch to save their sight, it is a scary and uncertain time.
First, parents want their child to have eye health and strong vision. Second, parents are concerned about whether this treatment will work. They wonder if their child will ever be able to see well enough to read, cross a street, will they be teased or bullied for wearing this, will it hurt them?
Finding a safe haven to trust the process did not exist when I needed to begin my daughter on patching. I created a vetted resource page on my website, a blog, a large supportive community on social media, an app, awareness campaigns and more to support parents as they go through this journey.
The largest impact for me are the rewards of daily emails from parents telling me how my patches have changed their life. No more chaffing, bloody skin, no more tears, and improved vision. In fact, I hear about kids who love the designs including patches with pizzas, mermaids and dinosaurs so much, that they ask to patch more! The most moving moments have been when I receive emails from customers telling me they no longer need See Worthy Patches because their child’s vision has been saved. Most people don’t like losing customers— but I do, that is the greatest impact achieved.
Eye doctors have applauded the willingness children have to wear my patches, thus making treatment successful. Knowing I am part of a network, from doctors to parents to vision screening organizations, that helps save children’s sight means I know my product is very impactful.
Q: Are you interested in offering See Worthy Patches globally?
A: Absolutely. I do ship product internationally already. There is a great demand and so many requests. However, the shipping costs are inhibitive for many customers. My largest requests come from New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., South Africa and the Middle East. Every time I ship to customers globally, I always hear back from them with photos of children in my patches and about how much this product is helping them! I would love to help children from around the world in a bigger way.
Q: In light of the pandemic how are you and your product a Force for Change?
A: This pandemic has been tough on all of us … even those of us who have it good with food on the table, family nearby and safe. Isolation is not natural and it takes its tolls. However, for families that have a challenge like a child fighting for their sight, fear already exists, stress already lives in the home.
If my product can make that struggle easier, better, than I am helping. If my playful graphics can bring a smile to these patching kids and their parents, even better.
The idea that having cancer during the pandemic is the most isolating issue of all is not foreign to me. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma during the pandemic, which is cancer of the immune system. No one in my family has been allowed to see him. Chemotherapy wipes out the immune system. He is not the only cancer patient having to be extraordinarily careful and isolated during these times.
Ironically, serendipitously, I found out cancer patients had been using my eye patch to protect their chemo ports. Knowing my product can provide this comfort to these patients during this time of COVID is a miracle. I have organized a sister company, Port Worthy, and now my product is helping even more people make a difficult time better during the one of most challenging times in our country’s history.
When grown women email me to say, “thank you for creating that watermelon patch — it was the spot of happiness in my day and it is so cheerful that when I use it to cover my port,” I smile and know it’s all going to be OK. When I receive those emails — I know my product is making this time a little better, easier and more comfortable for some during the pandemic journey that is far more challenging than my own.
If you are as inspired as we are, come join the recognition ceremony honoring Paige and 24 other amazing women on Oct. 28. Registration is open at www.lweworld.com or email [email protected].
Linda Wellbrock is the CEO and founder of Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Force for Change NJ.t