A Red Deer entrepreneur’s pitch for new and improved feminine hygiene products left at least one Dragons’ Den businessman feeling squeamish.
Vincenzo Guzzo said, “I know a lot about a lot of things, but this is something I didn’t want to know anything about,” recalled JB Owen, who will appear on Thursday’s episode of the CBC program at 8 p.m.
The Red Deer native recorded the segment in Toronto in May, after passing an audition in Lethbridge last winter.
Her eco-friendly, hypoallergenic female hygiene product, Lotus Liners, are already selling for $40 in 200 stores across the country (including Nutters and Pharmasave in Red Deer). But Owen decided to request a deal that helps with marketing costs. She asked the Dragons for a $40,000 investment for a 15 per cent share in her business.
Although the show’s outcome must be kept secret until the episode airs, Owen said she can say “the Dragons were pretty tough on me.”
She described her Lotus Liners on TV as a triple-win “unicorn” business, because it’s easy on women’s health, the environment and the pocketbook.
The designer came across a new “synthetic hypoallergenic, stain repellent, absorbable” new fabric while working on a line of clothing in China some years ago.
When she decided to retire from children’s wear, she became intrigued in developing thin pads that menstruating women can wash and re-use for three to five years.
Owen said they are free of perfumes, chemicals and bleaches that are found in many standard feminine hygiene products — which don’t have to be regulated by Health Canada.
With society moving toward a healthier lifestyle and less waste, Owen said her reusable, anti-leak liners are “10 times more absorbable than disposables.”
Used pads can be taken home in the waterproof bag for washing, so Owen said there’s no reason women have to spend an estimated $12,000 over their lifetime on disposable hygiene products or throw 1.7 billion pads into landfills.
The subject matter left some of the male Dragons uncomfortable and started a short battle of the sexes on the show.
Owen recalled Jim Treliving calling menstruation a women’s “problem,” prompting Arlene Dicksinson, Majit Minhas and Michele Romanow to counter it’s part of life and a “blessing.”
Minhas said she wouldn’t have been able to have her two children without having periods, said Owen. She next intends to focus on selling Lotus Liners in Germany and introducing them to Australia.
If the fashion and textiles graduate of Sheridan College has any advice to people going on Dragons’ Den, it would be to “know your numbers, because they will grill you on margins, profits, nets…”