Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Based in Medford, OR, Dr. Olson earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Pacific University in 2005, and a Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy from Regis University in 2008, graduating as a member of the Jesuit National Honor Society. She holds a Certification of Achievement in pelvic floor physical therapy (CAPP-PF) through the APTA, and the Pelvic Floor Practitioner Certification (PRPC) through the Herman and Wallace Pelvic Institute. She is also a certified Stott Pilates instructor and running coach, which she finds useful in curating treatment approaches. Dr. Olson has written several physical therapy continuing education courses, newspaper and magazine articles on women’s health, pelvic floor dysfunction, and running. She is a core research member on the Clinical Practice Guideline committee to create guidelines for physical therapy management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). She is the President and chief clinical officer of Intimate Rose where she develops pelvic health products and education, and authored the book Restoring the Pelvic Floor For Women. She is passionate about empowering women and men with pelvic health issues including pelvic pain, incontinence, and pre and post-partum issues.
What is the idea behind Intimate Rose and how did you come up with it?
The concept behind Intimate Rose is to provide solutions and devices for common women's health problems. We sought out to create devices that are comfortable, approachable, and easy to use. Our devices help solve problems resulting from various forms of pelvic floor dysfunction, from urinary incontinence to pelvic pain, or post cancer treatments. Our products use medical grade silicone in aesthetically pleasing colors in a unique finish that makes them more comfortable. As a pelvic physical therapist, my patient's comfort was top of mind in designing the products. Many products on the market were made of hard plastic, looked scary, or over medicalized, or simply were not performing the job they claimed to do. It was important to me that I provide something to make the treatment easier, and we back our products with education and support from me to help them reach their goals.
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
Our company began in 2015 with three of us working hard to wear all the hats involved with running a company. We currently staff approximately 10 people of various talents.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
In four years we have gone from 1 product to approximately 8 with more on the way!
What was the biggest obstacle?
Nothing in manufacturing moves quickly. Patience was required in getting our designs and molds exactly as we wanted them, and getting the devices to market.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Outside of my personal achievements in earning a doctorate degree, multiple advanced certifications as a pelvic provider, and motherhood- our business won an award from the American Physical Therapy Association's Section on Women's Health for support of pelvic health education. It was a tremendous honor for us.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
The issues that our devices treat are highly sensitive, and while there is a growing movement to discuss things like incontinence, vaginal pain, and gynecologic cancer - there aren't too many people shouting from the rooftops about how a device helped them get back to having sex, or jump on a trampoline without wetting their pants. There are still social barriers that we are working to gracefully dismantle to provide a safe space for women to talk about their issues, their goals and their achievements in this personal area.
As a female entrepreneur I often encounter condescension.
What are your projects you are currently working on?
We are almost ready to launch a pain device that vibrates to improve blood flow and to relax the pelvic floor - stay tuned! We are also investigating the possibility of creating some hospital grade tech devices for bladder and pelvic floor dysfunction that could be used in the home setting.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Absolutely. It is important to me that the individuals creating devices to service women understand what women need and what their concerns are- who better than another woman. Furthermore, women have been serving in various roles in technology for decades, and I'm thrilled that there is more awareness, and excitement in this field.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
Women possess unique characteristics and ways of communicating that make us prime to run companies, create things, and build. My advice is to remember that in the face of the highs and lows that come with entrepreneurship, we are resilient and adapt at finding creative solutions to problems.
What will be the key trends in the health tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I see technology growing in tele health, and in modalities that allow people to address concerns more independently.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in health tech?
1. Isabel Van De Keere, founder and CEO at Immersive Rehab — VR health tech start-up that focuses on the creation and development of interactive rehab environments and games in virtual reality.
2. Lyndsey Harper, founder and CEO of Rosy, a women’s health company connecting women who have decreased sexual desire with evidence-based resources to improve libido.
3. Naomi Kelman, CEO and President of Willow, a platform for products that help improve the lives and health of women, such as the Willow Wearable Breast Pump.
Social media: @Intimaterose
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.