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Publication: Healthcare Financial Management
Date published: April 1, 2011

HFMA member Regina Swope invented a product that has been featured on QVC- Rug Dots- and she's actively coming up with ideas for more products.

"When Regina Swope lost her mother to cancer, she worked through her grief by creating a product that could help other cancer patients.

Swope, vice president, client development for Solutia Revenue Recovery, Inc., and a member of HFMA's Tennessee Chapter, wanted to find a way to help other cancer patients and their families offset the expenses of cancer treatment, particularly those who do not qualify for financial assistance.

She recalled how difficult it was to clean underneath the area rugs positioned throughout her mother's home while her mother underwent treatment. "Lifting the area rugs and their padding to clean underneath them, and then laying them hack down, was a difficult task," says Swope, who had taken time off from her work in sales to care for her mother. "You almost needed another person to help set the padding and the rugs back down, because they would wrinkle so easily. On top ofthat, the pads aren't always secure, and they can be expensive: $40 to $300 a pad, depending on the size of the rug. "

Swope took a dinner plate and used it to trace circles onto a square of rug padding, then cut out the circles and placed them underneath the corners of the rugs inner own home. She then traced circles of padding that were three feet in diameter, positioning them underneath the center of the area rugs in her home.

The result: "Rug Dots," a type of carpet padding that is machine-washable, easy to use, and capable of being re-used when new area rugs are purchased. They're also affordable- a fraction of the cost of a single carpet pad.

"My mother was my best friend, and her illness had come as such a shock. She was 65 years old when she was diagnosed, had never smoked, and exercised daily, " says Swope, who lives with her husband, Robert, and their dog, Bentley, in Nashville, Tenn. "You're never prepared for a mother or father or child to be diagnosed with cancer, and it is an expensive illness. I remember thinking, 'How does a family with a mortgage and car notes and children deal with this expense?' I decided I would market my product and use all of the proceeds to help families of cancer patients. "

Swope cold- called QVC to pitch her product . She was invited to fly to Pennsylvania for a women's entre - preneur conference, where QVC was to interview female inventors to potentially feature on the show.

QVC liked Swope's product. Then came the hard part: To be on the show, Swope had to achieve a perfect score on an online test that covered the basics of filming a live television spot; complete months of paperwork; have her product patented and licensed; attend a two-day broadcast training school; and prepare to pitch Rug Dots in 3o seconds or less on an air date for which she would receive just 24 hours notice from QVC.

Fortunately, her husband, who works in television, was able to help her prepare. He also helped her patent and trademark Rug Dots, a process that ordinarily might cost more than $10,000 when using an attorney.

"At broadcast training school, they teach you where to stand, what do with your hands, and howto verbalize certain questions when someone calls in about your product," Swope says. "Then, you're given a script. You have 3o seconds to step on stage, hookup to audio, and pitch your product.

"I was used to selling products, but I wasn't used to being on TV," Swope says. "But on the day of filming, I was anxious, but I wasn't nervous. I felt as if someone were watching over me. It was as if my mother was right there with me, cheering me on. "

Swope's sales skills also were of great benefit: She cold-called three carpet pad distributors and was able to find a company that would license , manufac - ture, and distribute the product. All royalty checks are donated to families of people with cancer; Swope maintains television rights and the right to sell the product online (www.rugdots.com).

Swope plans to continue inventing new products in her free time. She has also created cosmetic bags that are insulated to keep makeup from melting while traveling (www.coolyourcosmetics.com) , and is searching for a manufacturer for "Cool Paws," a cold pack that pet owners could use to provide relief to their pets' physical ailments or to keep pet medications cool while on the go.

"It's been such an interesting experience, and so rewarding to be able to give back to others in this way, " Swope says . "I wouldn't trade it for anything. "

For more information, contact Swope via www. solutiarecovery. com.

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