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CEA Health Care Winner: Innovating With Reflexology Relief

By Johanna F. Still, posted May 6, 2022
HEALTH CARE | MYPERIODPAL Airlie Wedemeyer, Founder & CEO | Year Founded: 2019 | Employees: 1 (Photo by Aris Harding)
Airlie Wedemeyer’s vision for MyPeriodPal arose out of a need for a nonchemical treatment option to alleviate menstrual cramping.
 
She was living in the Philippines and was breastfeeding, so Wedemeyer was avoiding over-the-counter pain medication women often rely on when cramps hit. A Korean colleague showed her she could push into a pressure point on the inside of her ankle to quickly relieve her uterine pain. “I didn’t know anything about reflexology,” she said.
 
Wedemeyer later dreamed up a remedy so she wouldn’t be stuck hunched over all day.
 
“I’ve always had a tendency and kind of a knack for solving problems with a very simple solution,” she said. “I just thought, ‘If I can press it myself, why can’t I develop something to keep the pressure applied?’”
 
Wedemeyer first created a handmade prototype, an ankle wrap of sorts, which she said was warmly received by her female colleagues.

“They were going off of 800 milligrams of ibuprofen,” she said, adding another coworker was using opioids to deal with pain deriving from a partial hysterectomy.
 
“Seeing how I was helping people, I almost felt obligated to do this for the world,” she said. “The more I researched it, the more I realized that there are no healthy alternatives on the market.”
 
Other nonmedicinal options – heating pads or electrodes – also weren’t practical for mobile use, she said. “It was my duty, almost, for myself and for everybody else,” she said of developing the product.
 
The University of North Carolina Wilmington grad’s final product is a $36 neoprene ankle band with an adjustable buckle that comes in a variety of colors. Founded in 2019, MyPeriodPal officially launched in September and so far has been sold directly to consumers via its website. Women have been more receptive and aware of reflexology than Wedemeyer first anticipated, given her product’s unique niche.
 
“They were willing to try it because they really wanted some relief,” she said. “I really got the overall feeling that women were just sick of taking medication or being told to go on birth control or being told that they had no other options.”
 
The endometriosis community found her, she said, and those suffering from the painful disorder have informed her of MyPeriodPal’s effectiveness at relieving pain. “That’s really been probably the most rewarding [part],” she said.
 
Though she has outside consultants and frequent assistance from mentors at the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Wedemeyer is, for the most part, a one-woman show.
 
She’s in contract negotiations with resellers and anticipates landing in big-box retail stores soon. “It’s really been exciting,” she said. Her end goal is that her sales are split between online and in stores.
 
Thousands of MyPeriodPal bands have already been produced, Wedemeyer said, and she will soon place an order for “tens of thousands,” adding that “It’s about to ramp up hard.”

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