By Lucy Rout, Founder of Tabuu
Being told you’ll have to take medication every time you eat for the rest of your life after undergoing a Whipple surgery to remove a rare pancreatic cancer wasn’t really the news I was expecting aged 25. I was unceremoniously handed a very medical, plastic pill case and sent to navigate the new world of living with an invisible disability worrying my whole life would now be defined by medicine.
As I searched the market for a stylish, sustainable, and discreet pill case to make me feel a little bit better about such an important and frequent part of my day, I realized that there was a big gap in the market. After being met solely with large, plastic cases designed with an older generation in mind, I realized that although these organizers can definitely provide support to many people, they are not a one-type-fits-all. There are millions of people around the world who want to take medication on-the-go in casing that will blend into their busy lifestyle and complement their style choices. In a world where you can buy thousands of arbitrary accessories, an entire market of people was unaddressed and forced to make do with the status quo. The lack of a sensible solution, having been forced to carry my own tablets in tissue, foil and even my jean pockets, and hearing from countless others about their own, similar experiences and struggles with this issue pushed me to find an answer.
Some entrepreneurs start out with business acumen and experience and then come up with a marketable idea. I became an entrepreneur because I saw a need for people like me, an opportunity to build a better community of understanding around illness and medication, offer advocacy to the millions of people around the world who deserve so much better.
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t stop at coming up with a good idea or turning a profit. You must be a finance manager, product designer, head of logistics, branding guru, supply chain co-ordinator and many more rolled into one. But more than that, you need to be an advocate for the people you’re trying to reach.
That includes predicting key moments when they may need to lean on a product life yours. For example, as we approach the festive season – which can be an anxious time for people who need to take medication – having a product they can utilize comfortably can make all the difference. For me, building a company was always going to be about a lot more than creating a physical product to solve a personal problem that others can also benefit from.
As for many people, living with a new disability came with lifestyle changes, which subsequently came with unsolicited comments and uncomfortable moments in social settings which I often still don’t know how to navigate. Staring, questions and ignorant comments – I was once asked at a dinner table if I was taking “tablets for my bikini body” – quickly became a normal part of my day and I was determined to build a brand that would normalise and champion the many reasons for which people take medication with the aim of removing the outdated stigma and stopping others have the same experience, whilst donating a percentage of profits to charities supporting cancer.
The ultimate goal for the business is to provide products that will drive and inspire open conversation around medication through eye-catching, stylish design, whilst offering discretion for the days people don’t wish to open up. I can’t stop people becoming ill or needing medication, which when you’ve been ill yourself is something that is incredibly difficult to come to terms with. But if I can create beautiful products that help people feel a little bit better about this vital part of their day, whilst campaigning to remove the outdated stigma and donating to charities that can fund vital research, then that’s exactly what I’ll do.
There remains an entire market of people who are not represented and deserve products to be designed with their needs in mind. It is the job of entrepreneurs to see these people, and speak to them, provide for them. If your product can empower just one person to feel unapologetic, confident, and comfortable in their day-to-day, then your brand will have been a success.