Vida Calender said that she’s always had an inventor’s heart.
“I’ve always come up with wild ideas,” she said.
In June, after more than four years of research and development, the Hamilton resident was awarded her first patent, number 8460265, for “Washable Female Undergarment.”
Her product, which she has been selling online for the past year under the brand “Period Panteez,” was a process that started after an unexpected career change.
Calender had been a medical massage therapist in Hamilton with her own practice for about 10 years, until she broke her wrist in a tanning bed accident.
“The whole thing just collapsed and fell,” she said.
“I got an X-ray and the way it was broken, they didn’t see the fracture at first. So I kept working and would cry after every massage because it hurt so bad,” she said.
Another X-ray a month later showed the extent of the fracture, which led to a year of physical therapy and the end of her medical massage practice.
“I was so lost,” Calender said. “I didn’t know what to do because I thought I had found my calling.”
That’s when her innovative intuition kicked in.
“With my experience with anatomy and physiology, who better than me to know what a woman needs?” she said.
Calender knew that with the right kinds of pressure in the right places, she could develop a product for women that would alleviate cramping and bloating.
“There’s a lot of anxiety associated with our monthly cycles,” she said. “A lot of girls go so far as to quit participating in sports when they start menstruating. You’re really horrified of leakage.”
Calender worked with three different seamstresses to come up with a suitable prototype and rounded up a focus group of 20 people.
“I’ve not taken a full day off this whole time,” she said. “I did not have to borrow any money, but I basically used my life savings so that I wouldn’t go into debt over it.”
While she wouldn’t reveal how many units she’s sold so far, Calender did say that she has shipped orders to 40 states and eight countries, mostly using social media as marketing.
“I get emails from 8-year-old girls and marathon runners, from women in Afghanistan who are fighting for our country” that use the product, she said.
She has also been a guest on Martha Stewart’s Sirius radio show and has been in touch with producers of national news magazines about upcoming features.
Calender also launched PeriodPride.org, a website to help young girls “embrace and respect their natural G0d-given gift,” she said.
“I really want to help end the taboo and have people be more open in their communication about it,” she said. “If boys and girls both know more about it, it would be a lot easier for all of us.”