Meet Kristin Wald, inventor of The Shower Sidekick and founder of Cotidea. We love Kristin because knowing she had a good idea, she refused to give up. The Shower Sidekick is your perfect holiday gift. Check it out at cotidea.com and on Instagram @showersidekick
When did you invent the Shower Sidekick?
What inspired you to come up with it?
Through necessity. I was frustrated with shaving my legs in the dorm showers – I’d put my leg up on the wall and it would just slide down; I’d bend over and water was in my face, and I couldn’t sit on the floor, because that is just gross. I thought, ‘There has to be a better way to shave my legs in stall showers.’ Turns out, there wasn’t. So, one day, while I was home for winter break, an image of the product popped in my head – a ‘Moment of Inspiration’ – and I quickly drew it on a napkin (I think I still have that napkin somewhere). Necessity + Moment of Inspiration + Willingness to Say ‘Yes’ to that Inspiration = The Beginning of a Product.
How did you know what to do to turn your invention into a product?
The truth is, I didn’t. I was 19-years old and had no idea what to do. I just kept asking questions and saying ‘yes’ to the process as it unfolded. I talked to everyone about the fact I had an invention – I couldn’t tell them what it was without an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement), but I just told everyone I found that I had an invention and needed help. Sure enough, the right people showed up at the right time: a professor at a law school that helped with the patent, a woman from China that helped with manufacturing, an invention expert at a trade show (who I am still friends with 8 years later), a comedy troupe I met at a show in Chicago helped with my infomercial, and many more people along the way. For me, ‘I don’t know’ was never an excuse; it was a challenge.
Were you able to make the Shower Sidekick your business right after college? If not, what did you do?
My journey with the Shower Sidekick took a pause during and after college. Once I made the prototypes and knew that my sorority sisters loved them, I remembered that I was 19-years old and did not have the time, experience, or budget to move forward with the project (I was studying Medical Microbiology & Immunology, participating in DG sorority events, working part-time at a restaurant, and performing in musicals). After college, I started working for a large consulting firm in Chicago and focused on business process reengineering for mid-size pharmaceutical companies. I was traveling every week and got to travel internationally for work – it was a fantastic job and amazing learning opportunity.
I highly recommend working in a corporate environment right out of college. My first day, I was surrounded by thirty smart, driven, inspiring peers. The consulting job was like a grad school experience learning business skills. I still use the skills that I learned at the consulting firm: Excel, PowerPoint, how to carry yourself in business meetings, organization, professionalism, and working with people all over the world. Also, I met one of my best friends on my first day at that company (I was in her wedding recently) and keep in touch with many of my start group friends.
Is it ok to make your dream your “side hustle?”
After consulting, instead of going to business school, I pursued a career in comedy – acting, writing and stand-up. My mentor asked me, ‘What are you afraid of?’ I told her acting, and next thing you know, I’m in a class. During that creative career, one of my teachers gave me a valuable piece of advice: Have a stable source of income, so that you can allow your creativity to flow. When you are in financial fear, it is harder to hear your intuition and your creative voice. I took her advice to heart, and I’ve worked consistently to make sure I could pay my bills while pursuing my dream.
Perseverance is definitely one of the big keys to success. Tell us about some of the challenges you had to work through.
Every step of the process has been challenging. I wish I could say it has been ‘magical and effortless,’ but I’m all about being authentic, and it has been really hard. When I tried to take the product to market at 24-years old, I couldn’t get the manufacturing set-up, which was devastating because big opportunities were just waiting for me to have the product. I then signed a licensing agreement, and after 2.5 years, we canceled the agreement. We had some delays with getting the product up and running. My patent was declined twice. When I got the call that my patent was approved, I started crying (like, ugly crying – happy weeping). After many iterations of the product, we got the ‘golden sample,’ which is supposed to be perfect, and it wasn’t. Over the past twelve years, I’ve just kept showing up when the opportunity presents itself. My mom always says, ‘Keep going until the logical conclusion.’ So, through the tears and late nights, I just kept remembering, it’s not over, keep going.
Your company is named Cotidea. Why?
Cotidea translates to ‘Daily Goddess’ in Latin. We truly believe that every woman is a goddess, whether she is red-carpet ready or bent over shaving her legs or bright orange leaving a spray tan. Cotidea creates thoughtfully designed products for the everyday woman. We want to make the everyday tasks (like shaving your legs) easier so women can focus on the big stuff.
You have a philosophy on feminine energy. Would you please share?
I believe women are powerful forces on this planet. I believe that women are born with goddess energy within; we need to recognize and foster that energy within ourselves to be of service in the world. I also believe that women distract themselves from their higher calling as intuitive, nurturing, creative, powerful forces, by being cruel to each other. I’d like to shift that negativity to honoring and celebrating each other. When women come together, amazing things can happen. As Beyonce would say, ‘Ladies, let’s get in formation.’
What do you think are some must do’s while in college to be ready to face the real world?
Join clubs – the more you can work in teams, the better prepared you’ll be for business life. Business is all about teamwork, working with peers and coming up with solutions.
Have fun – the relationships you have in college can last a lifetime. I just had lunch with my best friend in college who lives across the country from me. I don’t regret one late night of laughter in college.
Start to outline your passions – I recommend getting focused on what makes you tick, what makes you smile, what keeps you up all night (other than that term paper), what makes you ‘lose track of time.’ Keep a journal or list of those moments, those activities and start crafting your ‘dream job’ from that list.
When I started looking at entry-level jobs, I didn’t look at the job description of the job at my level. Instead, I looked at the job description of the job I wanted in 10 years and then worked my way backwards from that job to see what would be an entry-level position that could get me there.
Reach out to everyone – Don’t be afraid to cold email someone who does what you want to do or reach out to a family friend who has a ‘cool job.’ People love to help. It’s scary, but send that email or make that phone call – you never know what introduction or magic could happen.
Do you have a favorite quote or last piece of inspirational advice?
My Bacteriology Professor in college gave me a piece of advice that has helped me along the way: ‘Always take the left turns.’ If an opportunity shows up that you weren’t expecting, but it makes you a little nervous (outside your comfort zone) and you’re excited about it, just say ‘yes’ and show up. You never know where it could lead.
And my mom, who is very wise, tells me: “Take it to it’s logical conclusion.” So, if I’m feeling doubt or fear, I ask myself, is it done or is there more work to be done? If there is another try left in me, I go for it. I also need know when to let go of an idea – when it has hit its conclusion and it’s time to let it go.