Stacia Pache fell in love with running, but when she was training for her first half marathon, she suffered from knee pain. Seeking a solution, she designed It Bandz patellar bands to provide a solution for women like herself who suffer from knee pain and yet want to continue with an active lifestyle. Stacia spent the majority of her career in mobile, doing product development and product marketing, first at a wireless carrier and then as a consultant. After ten years as a consultant, she was ready to own a product again.
“It Bandz are designed for active women who want to explore their world and won’t be slowed down or stopped by knee pain,” said Stacia. “I have learned that regardless of activity – hiking, biking, running, walking, gardening, Zumba-ing, traveling, etc. – It Bandz can make it possible to stay active by keeping knees healthy and pain free. Huffington Post reported that 47 percent of Americans suffer from knee pain, and women are more prone to this than men.”
Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
My very first job out of college was as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya. While I was there I worked as a Small Business Consultant to women’s groups who were starting income generating projects. I was able to see, in a very real and direct sense, the value that creating new products and new businesses can bring to a community. That experience sparked a twenty-year career in product development and product marketing, mostly spent in the mobile space. Two years ago, I closed my consulting practice in order to fully focus on building It Bandz. It was time for me to work on a product of my own that I deeply believed in. In some ways, with It Bandz I have come full circle and am again focused on providing value to a community of women who want to improve the quality of their lives.
What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
I love the process of understanding a customer issue/need/problem and then solving it, because of this I am a staunch believer in user driven Agile product development and design. Getting customer input early and using that to drive design is key to my product development approach. With It Bandz, I worked with active women who want to explore their world and won’t be slowed down by knee pain when it comes to doing the things they love whether that is hiking, biking, running, walking, gardening, training, traveling, etc.
What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
I have an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA with a focus in marketing. The majority of my career has been spent in the mobile data space, which has evolved and grown in an incredible way. I’ve had the opportunity to be part of some very exciting initiatives that were industry leading and helped shape mobile services.
Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
My journey to create and build It Bandz has been somewhat unique for me in that it is the first time that I have worked almost exclusively with women throughout the process. All of my key resources and contacts have been women and they have been incredibly supportive and have made it possible for me to be where I’m at today.
Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
Most days I am optimistic about the growth and potential of It Bandz. When I have a day where I think I might be crazy for doing this, it is the feedback that I get from women who try It Bandz that keeps me going. Every time I sell It Bandz at running events, I end up getting sweaty hugs from women who come back to thank me because they had their best race ever without any knee pain. I get email from women who can garden pain free, hike pain free, one woman who is a ferry worker emailed me because for the first time she could work all day climbing the ferry stairs and not go home crippled from her knee pain that was caused by arthritis.
When did your career reach a tipping point?
I don’t know that there has been a specific tipping point in my career. The most important thing for me has been to be excited about what I spend my time working on and to work with smart, good people who help me grow.
Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
It was critical to me that I personally insured the quality of It Bandz knee bands and inspected the manufacturing site where they are made. This meant that I needed to go to China so that I could visit the factory. Prior to this visit, I had never been to China. I made the arrangements and once I arrived, traveled over 350 miles into the countryside to the small town where It Bandz are sewn and assembled. The people that I met were welcoming and highly skilled. We had a series of productive sessions that have proven to be invaluable in our working relationship.
What single skill has proven to be most useful?
I am very good at solving problems by breaking things down, asking the right questions, and finding the resources I need. This is what has allowed me to enter a new industry and product space that I previously had no experience within. After I had the idea for It Bandz, I realized that I needed to get my product concepts out of my head and into the real world. Prior to this I had worked mostly on mobile applications and services so this was very new for me! To get started I decided to sign up for sewing lessons: a skill set well outside my wheelhouse. I lucked out and took sewing lessons from a spunky, retired Microsoft program manager who then introduced me to the women I worked with to turn my rough prototypes into working prototypes and ultimately create a design specification and pattern for manufacturing.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Transitioning from developing applications and services to developing a physical product has been a huge change for me. I’m very proud of having been able to successfully apply my experience in a completely new space.
Any advice for others entering your profession?
Always be open to meeting new people and talking about your vision and what you are passionate about, you never know where it will lead! Stay optimistic and keep the faith.