Patricia Kayanga is a first-generation immigrant from Uganda. Her family came here under unfortunate circumstances but was blessed to know a better life. Her mother is the brain behind the business idea. After complaining about the many expensive items Patricia ruined, her mother encouraged her to create something disposable. Patricia started dreaming and created Ohhs, biodegradable disposable undergarments made from bamboo and non-woven fabric. Patricia wanted to create a product that felt good, with a business structure that served a greater purpose in a girl’s life, while creating something simple for every woman. They donate over 10% of their profits to organizations that provide resources to school-aged girls. This year for every box sold, they donate a pair of underwear to local women's shelters. Patricia's business motto is, “we are inspired by women for women.”
Ohhs are seamless disposable undergarments made of eco-friendly and biodegradable bamboo that are perfect for travel, camping, spas, hotels, and any and all emergencies.
SoFu Lifestyle: How did you get started? Do you have any practical tips for young businesswomen starting out?
I meditated on the idea of my business for about three years before I decided to take a leap and commit. After a long trip to Bali for my birthday, I was triggered to commit to bringing my idea to fruition. The journey to Bali was long, and I wanted a change to feel fresh, but I didn't have a lot of options while in transit. That trip inspired me to stop waiting. I quit my job and focused primarily on researching and developing my business. Having the idea was the easy part.
After I had a prototype complete, I began the process of patenting. At first, I thought I could do it on my own. After all, I quit my job to focus on this full-time. But after hours and days of research on whether that was a good idea, I decided it may be best to speak with a lawyer. I'd gotten a subscription with a service to meet a lawyer for legal advice. Paying someone specializing in patents was optimal because it removed my worries so that I could focus on the business. I could not begin to imagine how I would maneuver the entire process by myself. My lawyer created a patent in the US and is now in the middle of securing the patent in China.
The process of finding manufacturers has been an interesting one. A mentor advised me to go to trade shows, a great place to connect with manufacturers. I also recently joined NuOrder. It is a Business to Business (B2B) marketplace where you can find multiple buyers for your products. Networking, listening to what matters, and tuning out what brings you down have also been integral to my growth as an entrepreneur.
Here are some practical tips for young businesswomen starting out:
1. Always remember our mistakes can be our greatest teachers.
2. Trust and believe in your goals.
3. You don't need to know it all, nor do you not need to have it all.
4. Rejection is part of the journey but not a determinant of the end.
5. Every investment should yield a tangible ROI
SoFu Lifestyle: Talk to me about the materials you use. How did you select them?
As a black-owned business, I wanted to provide products other than cotton due to the material's complicated history for African Americans. Trying to find a United States manufacturer to create a prototype for me was the hardest. I had researched the most sustainable fabrics and knew I wanted to use bamboo because of its numerous eco-friendly and hygienic benefits.
Benefits of bamboo:
1. It's highly absorbent, softer, and very breathable.
2. It's odor resistant and wicks moisture.
3. Bamboo has antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
4. It easily accepts organic dyes.
5. One plant grows 1 meter per day.
6. Pesticides and fungicides are not needed for its growth and are seldom eaten by insects.