So well done…but will anyone use them? – Miesner

It has been fun watching the projects evolve in class and seeing the students gradually (at least seem to) get excited about their designs.  This week we began transitioning from research to application as the students generated their customer needs lists and took a field trip to get some ideas about products they could “hack” to make inexpensive prototypes. If nothing else, the field trip did provide a needed break from intense research and an opportunity for some selfies:

Original picture by a student-stalking teacher.
Original picture by a student-stalking teacher.

I have been so impressed by the students and their work so far.  This really is a wonderful group of young women that we have the privilege to work with.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, given the class changes and combinations and reformatting that occurred, but I feel like things are progressing along well and we might actually create some cool stuff in the end.

But….there is that little part inside of me (and maybe in the students to) that always thinks “Does what we’re doing really matter” and “Would anybody use this stuff?” and “Even if we do make a marketable product, will it help anyone or just be another random item to feature in SkyMall for bored passengers?”

Pet Stairs, for example.  Useful, but really necessary?
Pet Stairs, for example. Useful, but really necessary?

But at other times I stumble across products that might not have seemed obvious or necessary to me, but really do make a difference in people’s lives.  I recently found a few interesting products of this type that have been invented, and are now being profitably marketed, in our own vibrant community of Austin, Texas.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and, as a school for “women leaders” we take a special interest in Breast Cancer.  I thought it was quite nifty when I found this product, developed by an Austin woman for breast cancer patients:

Breast Cancer Patient Shirt by HealInComfort
Breast Cancer Patient Shirt by HealInComfort

Now, maybe there isn’t a HUGE market for breast cancer shirts, but the creator of the shirt, Cherie B. Matthews, definitely is meeting the needs of her group of customers.  I love her “About us” page includes a mission statement and customer interview type quotes.  Maybe what we’re doing in class could actually be useful for the students in the real world – real companies do the same thing!  I wonder if we could get Ms. Matthews to come pay us a visit?

I found another Austin woman who has discovered a much needed, yet rarely discussed product.  Brooke Solis has a great story about how she first got the idea for her product:

Want to see how fast you can reduce the size of a group fitness class? Ask the women in the class to grab a jump rope. Chances are most will head for the door. And not because they don’t know how to use it or aren’t in shape. No, the real reason a simple jump rope is the enemy to one out of three young, active women is this: the “Athletic Leak™.”

Ms. Solis was trying to get into shape after pregnancy and found she had an embarrassing problem hindering her quest for fitness.  Instead of just quitting or finding some way to work around the problem, she seized the opportunity and created a profitable product:

Just Go Girl Athletic Pads Logo.  The website very tastefully refrains from putting in many pictures of the product.
Just Go Girl Athletic Pads Logo. The website very tastefully refrains from putting in many pictures of the product.

I’m not sure our girls could use these yet, but maybe some teachers could!  If any lovely readers are interested you can order a free sample here.

To sum up my long winded post, seeing these products and reading about the successes of this women inspires me to keep our students working toward their own missions and life changing products.  Who knows maybe one of these amazing groups will create the next iPod.

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