BEing Green: Leveraging on Innovation - Black Enterprise

BEing Green: Leveraging on Innovation

Being sick is bad enough, especially when it ends up in a hospital stay. Couple that with wearing a risqué patient gown that puts rear-end exposure at a premium, and whatever ails you can turn from bad to worse.

But, where there’s necessity, there’s invention, and Keith Dixon, along with his business partner, David Ramano, created a gown that curbs the potential for a “wardrobe malfunction.” Aside from making way in the healthcare sector, the gowns also fill a void in another burgeoning industry, green products. Though less than two years old, their Florida-based company, Pristine Gowns Inc., already inked a deal to provide its eco-friendly gowns to the University of Miami Hospitals, in April, and is currently in negotiations with two other hospitals.

Demonstrating an entrepreneurial flare since his youth, Dixon, 25, seemed to have an innate penchant for recognizing opportunity and turning it into profit. From heading a neighborhood car wash the age of 14, to helping found and grow Pristine Gowns, which is expected to rake in $485,000 in revenue after only two years of operation, the three person company has managed to defy the odds during this economic downturn.

Dixon talks to about developing and executing a business idea, and how he found gold in green. Your company, Pristine Gowns Inc., manufactures and distributes eco-friendly patient gowns. How did you develop this business concept?

Keith Dixon: One of my best friends, David Romano, 24, worked as a paramedic in an emergency room. One day he mentioned how uncomfortable a patient felt because his rear end was exposed; from there the idea was born for a hospital gown that provided privacy features that ensured the patient’s rear end wouldn’t show. We rushed home and sketched out a drawing and later, searched online for a local tailor that could transform our sketch into a functional gown. A few weeks later we had our proto type.

After applying for a patent we tested the market’s response with our product. We went to hospitals and talked with nurses who gave us constructive feedback on the gown’s functionality. After research, we decided that we should be different not only in the design of our product, but also in the way we impact the environment.

What aren’t traditional hospital gowns environmentally friendly, and how does your gown differ?

The cotton used in gowns today are made with artificial fertilizers and chemicals that damage the environment, we make our gowns from 100% organic cotton. We don’t use those toxic chemicals that treat and dye the cotton in typical gowns. Our product also has frontal and rear openings which allow doctors to examine the patient without removing the garb.