Rita DiCarlo, RN, became frustrated in her search for the perfect headband, so she took matters into her own hands and invented her own.
“I’ve always worn headbands, but I have thick hair and by the end of my nursing shift, the headband would usually slide down,” said DiCarlo, a former dialysis nurse from Coronado, Calif. “I wanted a headband that would stay in place, be comfortable to wear and was also unbreakable.”
DiCarlo also wanted a job that would keep her occupied while she took a leave of absence from nursing to address health and family issues. After a year of consulting with designers and researching plastics, DiCarlo developed the prototype for the first Bite My Hair headband, which has a lifetime guarantee and is available in a variety of colors.
“Before I became a nurse, I received my doctorate degree as a chiropractor, so I’m very familiar with the musculoskeletal system,” DiCarlo said. “In designing the headband, I wanted to create a plastic headband that was strong, but wouldn’t cause headaches or interfere with the comfort and fit of a customer’s glasses.”
Having cared for patients for many years, DiCarlo also wanted the headband to be simple and practical and to offer an easy alternative for hospital patients who may have arthritis or Parkinson’s disease and have a difficult time styling their hair. She said the research and critical thinking skills she learned in nursing school have helped in her quest to launch a successful business.
After designing her headband prototype, DiCarlo found business guidance through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s SCORE program that provides new entrepreneurs with mentors, workshops and other free resources to ensure business success. She said the guidance she has received through SCORE has been invaluable and recommends that other nurses who have product or business ideas get in touch with their local SCORE chapter.
“I think the biggest obstacles I’ve had to overcome have been outsourcing aspects of my business such as web design and bookkeeping,” DiCarlo said.
While her focus is on the sales and marketing side of her business, she also spreads the word about the product to nursing groups and other potential customers, works on social media and contacts store owners to see if they’re interested in carrying the headbands.
Ruth Braga, MSN, RN, of Salt Lake City, is one of DiCarlo’s many happy customers. “My daughter Mindy is almost 14 and she has very thick hair,” Braga said. “I, on the other hand, have very thin hair. We have each used the Bite My Hair headband and especially appreciate the fact that it does not slide.”