Deb Tacoma – Freedom Wand
Deb Tacoma’s story is one of true entrepreneurship and invention.
The creator the Freedom Wand has a strong bond with her customers because she was in a similar situation a few years ago. Deb was in an accident that left her with limited mobility for the first time in her life. Luckily, she lived through the ordeal and would someday have the same abilities she used to have. As she started down the long path to recovery, she found that the embarrassment and anxiety of not being able to do one’s own personal care caused so much stress that it hindered her healing process. Deb desperately wanted her independence back, and knew that it must be a pain felt constantly by people who were permanently limited in their abilities.
Deb tried several personal hygiene tools to help her, and found they were lacking in several ways. They were not long enough for her frame, not portable, or not able to hold more than one item. Frustrated, she considered a better way and started working to make the idea into a reality.
Deb drafted the idea of what she named the Freedom Wand—a versatile, multi-purpose hygiene tool. With retracting fingers on the end of an extendable and washable handle, the device can hold any number of things that people need for personal care. She then worked with others to get it manufactured, and took advantage of local resources for entrepreneurs. Deb now runs her own business, Freedom Creators, selling the Freedom Wand to grateful customers around the globe.
The Freedom Wand, made in Michigan, has seen success in many forms. It is sold on Amazon, through local pharmacies, and distributed internationally through other retailers. Deb even traveled to the International Medical and Health Care Trade Show in Dubai to represent her company in January. More than 3,500 vendors were at the show, and the demand for products made in the USA was high. The Freedom Wand is made in Holland, MI by Ess Tec.
“It went over really well. Buyers were pharmacies, suppliers of hospitals, durable medical equipment sellers, and other professionals from all over the world,” Deb said. She now has a litany of contacts, noting that they are located in France, Italy, India, Iran, Belgium, the UAE, and more.
Deb was part of the Pure Michigan booth featuring six kiosks with Michigan companies and individuals at the International Medical and Health Care Trade Show. She received a grant from the STEP program, or State Trade Export Promotion, which is “designed to assist small- to medium-sized businesses diversify their customer base and enter new global markets.”
Deb Tacoma notes that her success has been due to support from several organizations. She thanked Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) for assisting her in the early stages of her business development and for continued help with growth and transition to larger markets. Deb has taken advantage of business counseling and microloans that GROW offers to entrepreneurs. She also thanked the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a division of GROW, for their continued support and use of their Leadership Development Fund to help cover some of the cost in attending the trade show.
Bonnie Nawara, CEO of GROW, received details from the Van Andel Global Trade Center regarding opportunities for Michigan businesses to apply for a spot at the international show. Bonnie immediately thought of Deb Tacoma and the Freedom Wand. “It’s the kind of product that we can imagine being sold internationally, and Deb is a perfect representative of what it means to be made in Michigan,” Nawara said.
Tacoma also said that she is grateful for the work Governor Snyder has done to help Michigan businesses sell their products internationally, and she was thankful for help received through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Deb Tacoma is working on building relationships with her international contacts, and looking forward to a steep expansion in sales because of the trade show. Deb’s goal is to triple her business in 2013.
Deb Tacoma rocks because she had an idea to help people take care of themselves, be independent, and improve their quality of life. She made the idea an affordable reality, accessible to everyone, and will continue helping people well into the future.
For more information on the Freedom Wand, visit FreedomWand.com.