It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then lightning strikes—an ingenious idea or miraculous opportunity that powers the launch of a business and changes a life. For Tanya Allen, lightning struck in the 1980s while she was sitting at the kitchen table, thinking about…feminine hygiene. Hit with the idea for a feminine hygiene pad with wings, she excitedly workshopped the idea with her friends and was quickly laughed at—after all, feminine hygiene was still considered an embarrassing topic at that time. After giving up on her idea, she later found the best-selling “Always” winged pad in the grocery store and became determined to never give up on her “out of the box” ideas again. Soon thereafter, ForeverFresh was born.
Piggybacking off her original idea, Tanya designed and patented ForeverFresh disposable undergarments as an innovative feminine hygiene product designed for real women’s everyday lives. While the business originally launched in 1989, Tanya learned some vital business lessons the hard way, but never giving up, she re-launched the business three times with added conviction and business acumen. “Failure is just an opportunity to try something a different way,” notes Tanya.
Today, ForeverFresh is sold in retail locations like Walgreens and distributed by three national distributors to schools across the country. ForeverFresh is utilized as an emergency undergarment for female students. With such success in the education industry, Tanya recently launched ToddiFresh, disposable underwear for children.
Tanya and her partners operate six retail stores at the Detroit Metropolitan airport, and in 2014, her partners (HBF APU, LLC) were awarded 10 restaurants. “This is a significant opportunity and creates another avenue for me to market ForeverFresh and ToddiFresh in airports for travelers,” says Tanya, “Airports were in my original business plan, and that plan has come full circle.”
As an active member and president of the Greater Detroit chapter, Tanya has found a consistent source of support in NAWBO where her innovation is celebrated. “There are not too many organizations that have the longevity that NAWBO enjoys,” Tanya notes. “It is very important for women to recognize the significance of this organization and the foundation laid by our foremothers. While we are one of the fastest growing business segments, women get significantly fewer federal contracts and still lag in access to capital. Through NAWBO, we can collectively use our resources to market and grow our businesses.”
Tanya’s Top Marketing Tips
What are some ways that you’ve successfully marketed your business?
“Tapping into social media. That has worked for my business and for NAWBO. They go hand in hand. When you’re supporting NAWBO and creating recognition for your chapter, people will look at you as well. It has really enhanced both of my businesses.”
What advice would you pass on to other business owners who are trying to market their businesses?
“If you’re in retail like me, you have to know your customer’s customer. If you’re marketing to a direct source, you still have to know your customer and understand their needs. You have to present yourself and your products so customers trust you. If you can gain a satisfied customer, know that they will tell someone else. If they aren’t satisfied, they’ll tell twice as many people. Marketing is all about providing a quality product and service and putting the customer first.”