Dana Edwards of The Perfect Lift
Having been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), Dana Edward’s youngest son, Tanner, became confined to his wheelchair and was solely dependent upon his family. The Perfect Lift was created by Dana to give her son more independence and not feel quite so socially isolated. It has however, become an invaluable aid to so many others like Tanner, giving back some of the freedom lost to diseases like DMD
RARE entrepreneur series: meeting the beating hearts behind the RARE brands
The Perfect Lift is a simple transport sling that allows two or more individuals to comfortably, quickly, and safely move an individual who needs assistance in any situation, travel, bathing, swimming, emergency, it assists with everything, it’s a game changer.
What was the driving force in starting your own business in the rare disease space? Was there an unmet need you were responding to?
Our driving force was our son Tanner who has a rare condition known as Duchenne muscular dystrophy which causes his muscles to break down. My son is completely wheelchair dependent and has very limited movement of his body. He wasn’t able to go out and do the things other kids were doing and he was becoming very socially isolated. We were hitting roadblocks everywhere we went; I knew we needed to find a way to give him a better way of life no matter what situation.
Yes, there was a huge unmet need when it came to transporting individuals like Tanner. The unmet need in the disability world is accessibility, it is still a big issue for people who live our life. I consider our Perfect Lift a band aid so to speak from the wheelchair to the steps, pool, toilet, etc that allow people to be able to do these simple things.
How does your business benefit the rare disease community?
My business benefits the rare disease community in so many ways. It’s opening doors for travel, for those who don’t feel comfortable or safe with being lifted by an individual, those who love to swim but can’t, who need support to have that MRI or who can’t get down the stairs into the basement during a tornado. It’s no longer taking away independence from an individual but giving back more.
What advice, if any, did you get when setting up your business? Has there been anyone in particular who has been pivotal in supporting your business?
The advice I received was to dream big but be smart. Start small, do a lot of research, look at the competition and see if there is a need. My husband, children, and wonderful friends were all pivotal in my decision to move forward. They all believed in me and to date are all still my biggest supporters.
How do you manage the demands of running a business with your own health needs, those of someone you care for, or those of your employees?
Right now, it’s a lot for me to handle the day-to-day operations from exhibiting at conferences, answering emails, and packaging to ship each lift out. Luckily, my children and friends have been a huge help.
We package each lift one by one and write out all the labels by hand. I answer all emails and calls. I am working very hard to take my business off the kitchen table and to a store front. I am growing more than I could have ever imagined.
What advice do you have for someone starting their own business?
My advice is to never give up! Things aren’t always easy, but the outcome is so fulfilling. I believe finding a strong support system who not only believes in you but encourages you is key as well. I never expected to be in the situation I am in today. What started out as a way to help move my son has now become something and expanded into different age groups, disabilities, diseases and international countries. Anything is possible!
What are the most rewarding aspects of establishing and running your own business?
The testimonies I receive from individuals who used the Perfect Lift are by far the most rewarding. I’m constantly seeing, reading and hearing about all the different ways in which it is used that gave back opportunities that once were lost. My personal favourite story is an individual being able to ride a rollercoaster. It never gets old and always brings a smile to my face.
What would you consider to be the greatest achievements of your business thus far?
My greatest achievements are hearing the ways in which the Perfect Lift saved an individual in an emergency situation and how it provides lifts to individuals in international countries with limited medical care, equipment and support.
What advice would you give someone considering working in the rare disease space?
To please jump in and help, we need more passionate people in this space to make a better world for the rare community. There are so many challenges faced and barriers to still overcome to make society truly accessible. We need individuals in this space to help us push this community forward but meaningfully at the same time. The more voices advocating on our behalf to improve the quality of life for individuals and families impacted with rare diseases will help us move the needle.
What are your hopes for the future of your business?
My hope is for more individuals to discover this product and get back to living in a different way. In the future I would love to expand and have partnerships with medical equipment companies, first responders, nursing homes and more, to carry the Perfect Lift. It’s a way to have an extra piece of support if you ever come across a need for quick assistance or have an emergency situation.
If you hadn’t founded The Perfect Lift, what was Plan B? What did your 10-year-old self want to be?
I always wanted to become a pharmacist to help others but after having six children it turned out being a mom was my calling and when it was time for me to return to college we received the Duchenne muscular dystrophy diagnosis; God had a different plan. I love my children and being a mom. When I am not selling lifts, I am a relentless advocate for the Duchenne community. I believe this is my way of helping others and love making new connections, friendships and support services for those dealing with similar difficulties like me.
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