Lisa Crites
June 1, 2024, 8:34 a.m.

From Medical Journalist to Medical Innovator: Lisa Crites and the Creation of The SHOWER SHIRT®

Welcome to All Around Worlds, where we bring you inspiring stories of innovation and entrepreneurship from across the globe. In today's interview, we're excited to introduce you to Lisa F. Crites, a former broadcast journalist turned inventor and entrepreneur. Join us as we delve into Lisa's remarkable journey from reporting health and medical news to creating a revolutionary product for post-surgery recovery. 
You'll learn about the inspiration behind The SHOWER SHIRT®, a unique water-resistant garment designed to help patients maintain hygiene after chest surgeries. Lisa shares her challenges, triumphs, and the impact her invention has made in the healthcare industry. This interview is a testament to resilience, creativity, and the power of innovative thinking in addressing real-world problems. Stay with us to uncover the story behind The SHOWER SHIRT® and the visionary woman who made it all possible.

Lisa Crites Professional Journey

Lisa F. Crites's career trajectory is a testament to her resilience and innovation. Initially a broadcast journalist, Lisa spent many years as a health and medical reporter. In this role, she interviewed various individuals, including patients, doctors, surgeons, and healthcare business professionals. During this time, she also spoke with numerous breast cancer patients. Coincidentally, soon after leaving television news, Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer herself.

Can you share your journey from a broadcast journalist to the inventor of The SHOWER SHIRT®?

Lisa shared, “I believe my work as a medical journalist helped me eventually become a patented inventor of a Class 1 Medical Device.   Having interviewed a myriad of clinicians over the years for multiple reasons, for stories, and especially on breast cancer topics, and the clinical protocols surrounding (which are entirely different for each patient), helped me when I was also diagnosed with breast cancer, which subsequently helped me create this product. Further, having had all those healthcare contacts, I was able to discuss creating such a product on a different level as I understood much of the science behind the need for the product.  Luckily, several doctors and surgeons, and even nurses were available for me to basically re-interview when I was doing market research for developing a water-resistant garment which eventually came to be known as The SHOWER SHIRT®. One specific surgeon Dr. Emran Imami, the Medical Director for TEPAS Breast Center helped me tremendously with my vision for the product. As journalists, we are so lucky to meet so many people as they are often expert resources for us to do better stories.  Luckily, by doing medical journalism, and then working as a media strategist within the hospital system, and then being diagnosed with breast cancer,  thoroughly helped my trajectory of becoming an inventor of a patented medical device .


Inspiration Behind The SHOWER SHIRT®

To delve deeper into the inspiration behind her innovative product, the interviewers asked Lisa what led her to develop The SHOWER SHIRT®.
What inspired you to create this product?

Lisa responded, “I quickly saw a need for a water-resistant product like The SHOWER SHIRT®. After my mastectomy surgery, my surgeon told me I would have surgical drains which could not get wet. Unfortunately, I did not realize the drains would be four feet in length, from my chest to my knees. I was also told I could not shower until the drains were removed. 

I began researching water-resistant products for chest surgery patients, and nothing existed. I then spoke to many of the surgeons whom I knew and had interviewed as a journalist, and all agreed that a water-resistant product was a promising idea for not only mastectomy patients but other chest surgery needs.”


Setting The SHOWER SHIRT® Apart: Unique Features and Advantages

The SHOWER SHIRT® stands out in the healthcare market due to its unique features. The interviewers were curious to learn more about what makes Lisa’s product distinct.

What sets it apart from other post-surgery solutions?

Lisa explained, “Before the invention of The SHOWER SHIRT®, women undergoing mastectomies either had to not shower at all for 1-3 weeks or improvise protection, often using trash bags and duct tape, as there was no product on the market to address the issue. The SHOWER SHIRT® is the only water-resistant garment of its kind. 

A Class 1 Medical Device, the product is a patented, post-surgical shirt designed to protect multiple chest surgery populations, including patients with surgical drains, chemotherapy ports, and even dialysis catheters while showering. The primary focus is to decrease the chances of waterborne illnesses in chest surgery patients. Tap water contains bacteria and pathogens which increase the chance of surgical site infections. The SHOWER SHIRT® is a product to help decrease the chances of infections from tap water.”

She added, “However, the use and benefits of The SHOWER SHIRT® have extended well beyond just mastectomy patients. Renal dialysis patients and other patients with catheters, wound vacs, infusion pumps, central lines, external defibrillators, and chemo pumps can take advantage of the product, not to mention those undergoing surgeries such as abdominal, hernia, lung surgery, life-vest, cardio-thoracic surgery, rotator cuff surgery, and bariatric surgery, to name a few. 

From a general chest surgery patient population perspective, there are more than one million patients in the US alone who can benefit from The SHOWER SHIRT®. The product has been successfully commercialized for over twelve years, with thousands of surgical patients around the world benefiting from its unique, patented, design and construction. The SHOWER SHIRT® company has shipped the garment to more than 19 countries since its inception in 2011.”

Lisa’s journey from a journalist to an inventor is marked by her determination to meet an unmet medical need, improving the lives of countless patients globally.

Entrepreneurial Journey

Remarkable Milestones in Lisa’s Entrepreneurial Journey

To uncover the remarkable milestones achieved by Lisa F. Crites in her entrepreneurial journey, we asked, “What has been the most significant achievement for The SHOWER SHIRT® since its inception?”
With enthusiasm, Lisa shared, “Most recently, I have been nominated as an inductee into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. Based on statistics, there are more patent applications and patents granted in the state of Florida than in any other state in the United States, so that is a great achievement for The SHOWER SHIRT® and our company. We have been an InnovateHER winner for my work in creating The SHOWER SHIRT®, which was an award for inventors who create products to enrich the lives of women.”
“The National InnovateHER series, sponsored by the Small Business Administration, Washington Post, and Microsoft, led us to travel as a guest of the U.S. State Department to present at WE-APEC in Singapore. We also received a 2015 Patient Innovation Award from the University of Portugal, Cattolica School of Business & Economics, and were requested by Dubai ruler, King Sheik Mohammad, to present at the World Government Summit-Edge of Government exhibit in the UAE.”

She continued, “Additional international honors include a request from the London Science Museum to host The SHOWER SHIRT® for the museum’s Science Innovation Exhibit, which expands across 78 locations in Europe, where we are represented as one of the first Patient Innovation award series recipients. 

We have been featured in FORBES Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Readers Digest; FOX, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Lifetime TV’s, ‘The Balancing Act,’ for The SHOWER SHIRT® invention. We were also featured in Women Inventors & the Top 7-Percent, by Robert Bear, and recognized by Ivanhoe Broadcast News for ‘Women Inventors,’ airing in 72 television markets across the United States.”

Approach to Entrepreneurship

Leadership in Action: Lisa's Approach to Entrepreneurship

To gain insight into Lisa F. Crites's approach to entrepreneurship, we inquired, “As an entrepreneur and inventor, how would you describe your leadership style in managing your business and team?”
Lisa F. Crites replied, “Being an entrepreneur is a never-ending job. Being the owner of a start-up company, like The SHOWER SHIRT® company, also seems like a never-ending responsibility. We have patients who call us and need our product as soon as possible because they cannot shower after surgery. In some ways, hosting this product goes back to being in journalism, as it seems like I am on call 24 hours a day, nearly every day. 

Just as news needs to be printed, posted, broadcast, and communicated immediately, I am of the same belief with The SHOWER SHIRT®. Shower shirt orders need to be shipped the day of, and if not possible, the day after so patients can shower safely, as soon as possible. I have much empathy for these patients, as I was one of them. I had no product to safely shower in, and another reason I am adamant about processing orders quickly. This is often why I say I am still working in journalism, as it is a continuous cycle, on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to get the job done, comparable to those days while working as a reporter.”

Lisa's dedication to her entrepreneurial endeavors mirrors her commitment to excellence in her previous career, exemplifying a tireless pursuit of innovation and service to others.


The Evolution of The SHOWER SHIRT®

To understand how Lisa F. Crites fosters innovation and creativity within her organization, we asked, “How do you foster innovation and creativity within your organization to continue developing impactful products?”
Lisa replied, “Our products are extremely niche in terms of customer needs and brand awareness. We have chosen to stay within the chest surgery needs of showering. We have, however, expanded our product line to include additional colors and sizing so the product is not one size fits all.”

Recognizing the importance of technology in today's business landscape, especially in healthcare, we inquired, “In what ways do you see technology, particularly in healthcare, influencing the future of post-surgery recovery products like The SHOWER SHIRT?”

Lisa shared, “Our product is primarily an online product. So, technology is heavily involved in our sales. Additionally, we love social media in that there is a myriad of communities in the social media universe. One is the breast cancer communities which have heavily influenced our sales to date.”

The Role in Healthcare Apparel Industry

To gain insight into the future of the healthcare apparel industry and The SHOWER SHIRT® role in it, we asked, “How do you envision the evolution of the healthcare apparel industry, and what role do you see The SHOWER SHIRT playing in it?”

Emphasizing their crucial role in reducing water-borne illnesses, Lisa replied, “I have had many doctors state that wound care continues to evolve. With that said, I believe that our company will continue to grow as patients will continue to be required to have surgery, thus, our product will continue to help patients when in need, to protect surgical drains sites, and wounds, from tap water, thus decreasing water-borne illnesses.”

Adaptability Amidst

Adaptability Amidst Adversities

Navigating through challenging phases is an integral part of an entrepreneur’s journey. To gain insights into how Lisa F. Crites tackled significant challenges in bringing The SHOWER SHIRT® to market, we asked, “What have been some of the most significant challenges you have faced in bringing The SHOWER SHIRT® to market, and how did you overcome them?”

Lisa F. Crites replied, “It was exceedingly difficult being diagnosed with breast cancer, as I had watched many patients go through the disease and struggle, so I knew that my diagnosis was not going to be physically or mentally easy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2009 and began this initiative within weeks of my bilateral mastectomy in June 2009 while undergoing complications and still in breast cancer treatment. 

In summary, within a short timeframe, I had gone through a breast cancer diagnosis, mastectomy surgery, two life-threatening infections, four months of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, and six additional surgeries, and still brought The SHOWER SHIRT® to market in April 2011, (inclusive of a patent), which was exactly one year and ten months after the initial surgery. With that said, I believe the hardest part of bringing the product to market was educating about the product. If you had not gone through any type of chest surgery, you would not know that the drains, chemotherapy ports, or catheters, would need protection from water while showering.”

Valuable Business Advice for Entrepreneurs

Curious to uncover invaluable business advice that guided Lisa F. Crites throughout her journey, we asked, “What is the most valuable piece of business advice you have received that has guided you in your entrepreneurial journey?”

Lisa F. Crites shared, “It is harder to bring a product to market which has never existed, vs. a product which exists, where you change it a certain percent and then relaunch. This was so helpful for me as I knew I was bringing a product to market which had never existed; thus, it was going to take a lot of diligence and fortitude.”

Lisa’s journey underscores the resilience and determination required to overcome adversities and pioneer groundbreaking solutions in the healthcare industry.

Innovation and Stability

Balancing Innovation and Stability

In our concluding question to Lisa F. Crites, we inquired, “How do you balance the need for continuous innovation with the demands of maintaining a successful and stable business operation?”

Lisa concluded, “I believe the primary need for innovation is the marketing and educational side of The SHOWER SHIRT® product, as marketing and media platforms are ever-changing while scaling this company, and shipping to customers in multiple different counties is also ever-changing. We have a lot of moving parts when it comes to ordering inventory, fulfilling, and then making sure we have a strong presence online. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of breast cancer amongst women around the world is not decreasing but increasing; my guess is that our company will be around for helping a multitude of patient populations decrease the chances of water-borne illnesses, for years to come.”

Lisa’s approach highlights the importance of continuous innovation in marketing and education, while also emphasizing the ongoing commitment to meeting the evolving needs of customers. Her dedication to both innovation and stability ensures that The SHOWER SHIRT® remains a beacon of hope for patients worldwide, striving to improve their post-surgery recovery experiences and reduce the risk of water-borne illnesses.
Thank you for joining us on this insightful journey into the world of Lisa F. Crites and The SHOWER SHIRT®. Lisa’s story is a powerful reminder of how personal challenges can spark groundbreaking innovations that benefit countless others. 

Additional quote: “I didn’t create this product for me. I created if for the hundreds of thousands of future breast cancer patients who will endure mastectomy surgery.  I’ve always felt if breast cancer/surgery patients have the option to feel better physically, by having a safe product to shower in, they will feel better emotionally, and psychologically, something which is gravely needed after a breast cancer diagnoses, and mastectomy surgery.”

We hope you found her experiences and achievements as inspiring as we did. To learn more about The SHOWER SHIRT® and how it continues to make a difference in the lives of many, we encourage you to visit their website at The SHOWER SHIRT®. Stay connected with Lisa F. Crites by following her on LinkedIn, and don’t forget to follow The SHOWER SHIRT® company page for the latest updates and innovations. Thank you for being a part of our community at All Around Worlds, where we celebrate and highlight the incredible journeys of visionary entrepreneurs.

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