Krista Woods is a mompreneur based in Ashburn, Va. Her business involves smelly athletic wear. She used persistence and a knack to sound bites to get her product featured on NBC’s Today show and QVC cable shopping network.
GloveStix is her company. They remove the stink from gloves for hockey and lacrosse, shoes for skates, gloves for baseball, gloves, and other sports. This quotable mother-of-three was one of the most articulate people I have ever met. She mortgaged the house and drained her son’s college savings account. She also lost a lot of income, and she spent the next two years running the business. She was the resourceful grandchild of the founder of the Koons auto dealerships in McLean, Va. Although she describes herself as a “normal person”, she tried community college. However, she quickly asserted that she is not able to afford the same education as her relatives. She said, “I have worked for every penny.”
GloveStix reminds of a late-night Ron Popeil infomercial for a Pocket Fisherman, or a smokeless Ash tray. Woods’ detailed step-by-step process of creating her de-stinker might be a guide for startups. The 42-year old said, “It’s much harder than you think, and you must be persistent.” Talk about driving 15 hours to Florida for lacrosse tournaments that were cancelled due to rain. Or making a trip for the largest lacrosse event on the planet, only to have it cancelled by a snowstorm. This mom quit her six-figure job before the new venture was feasible. She endured endless rejections from manufacturers and retailers.
She said that her dad taught me to work hard and never quit. It takes a lot of faith to start a business. Sometimes you have to dig really deep.” GloveStix is a pair of plastic tubes with air holes the same size as big cigars, which are connected by a rope. Each tube is fitted with a scented insert bag. These are then placed inside gloves, shoes, or other clothing to absorb moisture and kill the smell.
The gritty story begins in July 2014, when Woods, her husband Chris, and Jackson, her 13-year old son “the Master Of Stink himself” she called him were returning from a New Jersey lacrosse tournament. Woods stated that there was a “huge stinky party in the back seat” and she was tired of being invited. You can see why “Today’ put her on television. “I couldn’t bear it anymore. I reached for Chris’ (lacrosse) gloves, and he said: “It’s these.” They are just awful. They just stink. This sparked a conversation in the car that spanned three states and dissected the world of obnoxious sports gear.
Krista got on the internet and began researching how to combat the odor-causing bacteria found in sweaty bags and athletic gear. The solution was to absorb the moisture. Her husband bought some tubes at Home Depot and made prototypes in her garage. The tubes were connected with paracord, which is a nylon rope that’s used to attach parachutes. She used keywords that had to do with sports smell, smell, or any other topic, and searched for thousands of patents online. A friend of a patent attorney was able to help her. She had filed for a provisional Patent by Sept. 18, 2014. They came up with the name GloveStix, and they registered the domain through GoDaddy.com.
Then she began to search through the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers and emailed and called companies within 300 miles to find someone who could mass-produce her prototype. Nothing. They found a company that would manufacture replacement bags using her secret sauce. This was to solve the problem of the smell. Woods founded DA International Group in January 2015. One of DA’s specialties is helping companies get their products made in China. Woods spent $20,000 on her son’s college fund for 1,500 prototypes.
The contraption was then purchased at hockey and lacrosse retail stores. She began a brand effort on Facebook and Instagram pages. She amassed 600 followers and 50 preorders from customers who wanted them to be used for everything. Her 50 percent share of family income was destroyed by her obsession with GloveStix. She would spend her weekends driving hundreds of miles to sporting events and working at an auto dealership while her husband worked during the week. Woods stated that it was becoming a significant sacrifice and burden for her family. The cost was increasing monthly. This was a fun side-business that was becoming work. However, I was financially invested at this point and there was no going back.
Last June, the first 1,500 units arrived. They filled their SUV full of the necessary items for a pop-up shop (tents, display stand stands, etc.) and drove to Williamsburg on the first in a series of family-friendly working trips. The first sale occurred at 7:52 AM to a dentist, who stopped by the tent even before it was fully assembled. He also taught them how to use the Square handheld charge card reader.
The GloveStix brand has grown over the past year, with road trips to Florida and Minnesota. They will still drive to the event cancellation site and cold call hockey and lacrosse shops in order to find new outlets or meet new customers. Since she won the competition, sales have increased by three times. QVC also featured her in a follow up appearance.
If the business survives, the real upside lies in the refill bags containing the secret sauce that absorbs odors. They cost $7.95 and should be replaced each 90 days. The GloveStix plastic glove cost $29.99. Woods could get enough people addicted to GloveStix to create demand for the filler bags. This could lead to recurring revenue.
Woods has sold 8966 units thus far, including 6,884 units in the month that followed her television appearances. These numbers are far higher than her goal of 3,000 for the first year. All units have a combined gross sales of $160,000. She also sold 2,558 refills. Woods estimates that she has spent $63,000 of her personal money over the past year. Woods recently borrowed $70,000 to help her business grow.
I asked her for advice to entrepreneurs who were just starting out. She said, “Things will go wrong. It’s how you overcome it.” “I am confident in my abilities and fearless, but I fear failure. Therefore, I am careful and persistent in my research. I am also pragmatic.
This is also a great thing: I’m smart enough to know everything I don’t, so I am humble enough ask tons of questions.