When we first heard about a compression belt that provides menstrual cramp relief, we were intrigued. We frequently hear from women that menstrual cramps can be a huge distraction from work, school, exercise, socializing and parenting. We reached out to Dr. April Lee, the CEO of Ziivaa, to learn more about the product.
What stories or conversations with women stand out to you as key motivators for starting Ziivaa? How did you know that you were meeting a widespread need?
In private practice with my husband [April and her husband are chiropractors], we would hear dozens and dozens of stories of missed proms, missed days of work and other daily activities because of severe menstrual cramps. We would apply specific manual compression to the woman’s pelvis, and within seconds, the cramps would disappear. Once I did the research about the other options to manage menstrual cramps, (ie; birth control pill, over the counter medications, or a heating pad) I quickly realized why our phone was ringing off the hook for us to perform this manual compression technique. We knew that the two of us were not enough to fulfill the need. We needed something that a woman could use at home on her own, that simulated the maneuver we did in our office.
What does Ziivaa mean?
The name Ziivaa is a made up name derived from the Slavic roots. The name embodies wisdom, strength, life-giver and power for women.
What has been your biggest challenge in bringing Ziivaa to customers?
Just like any product that is innovative or new to the market place, we have struggled with adoption. It does not follow the “normal” medical model of drugs or surgery. It is a natural, noninvasive product that is completely new. There is nothing else like it on the market. Educating woman about the Ziivaa device has been our biggest challenge.
Entrepreneurs are often seen as risk takers. Do you consider yourself a risk taker? What is the biggest risk you’ve had to take in starting Ziivaa?
I would consider myself a risk taker, but an educated risk taker. The risks that affect me personally are the debt I have accumulated working for a company that is just getting started. I am also a homeschooling Mom to six amazing daughters and the time away from family is a risk. I’m constantly concerned whether or not everyone is getting all they need from me.
Would you be willing to share a formative experience that prepared you to launch your own company?
I have always had a deep passion for woman’s empowerment and helping woman live incredible lives. A woman who suffers from debilitating menstrual cramps every single month, is not living her best life. I have had several women burst into tears, right in front of me, after wearing the Ziivaa device for only a few minutes. They tell me stories about their lost days in high school, missed proms and football games, dates, work, school plays, etc. due to their severe cramps. They can never get those days back. I am going to make sure that the women of today no longer have to tell those stories!
Are there other women entrepreneurs or leaders that inspire you?
There are so many women leaders that inspire me, but I would have to say Mother Teresa and her gentle but strong spirit are very inspiring to me. I try to be full of grace and give love just like she did. I am definitely a work in progress. Miki Agrawal is another woman entrepreneur that is inspiring to me, and I would love to meet her someday. Her way of doing business is very similar to mine.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are looking to make a difference in women’s health?
The biggest piece of advice I would have for other women entrepreneurs is, DON’T QUIT! There are going to be many, many obstacles and many, many people will tell you that no one will ever use your product or that the market will never accept what you are doing. Save those comments and use them as your fuel!
In the next five years what innovation do you hope to see in women’s personal care/ health?
I would love to see insurance companies open the doors and cover woman’s products that are natural and noninvasive. The birth control pill has been the most common option for menstrual cramps for years, despite the potentially serious side effects. The Ziivaa device has no known side- affects and is completely natural.
As we write this, 24 women are reviewing Ziivaa. Stay tuned for the results and until then check out the Ziivaa website.