Friday the 13th

I’ve recently gotten involved in a new potential venture where, if it comes off successfully, I may have an income stream for myself. The person who founded this startup suffers from Lyme disease so his new startup is focused on products that will keep away ticks (which are the prime spreaders of Lyme disease).

He’s not the first person I’ve ever met who has Lyme disease. I have a friend who used to live in my area but she’s now living in Baltimore with her husband. Together they run a restaurant known as Maggie’s Farm, which has recently opened a second location in the Baltimore area. On May 1, which is World Lyme Day, she wrote a very poignant letter on Facebook about her struggles with Lyme disease that should be read by a lot of people because it gives you an idea of what it’s like to have such a persistent disease that won’t go away.

Right now the startup’s main product is a suit which has been sprayed with Sawyer Permethrin. The idea is that people can wear these thin breathable suits when going hiking, camping, or even doing simple gardening in the yard. Sure you can buy Sawyer Permethrin in the stores and spray the clothes yourself but the downside is that it takes six hours for the stuff to dry and become effective against ticks. The suits are meant for people who decide on the spur of the moment to go hiking through some local woods or do some weeding outside and don’t really want to wait six hours for the Sawyer Permethrin to take effect.

I decided to do a soft test marketing at last weekend’s Greenbelt Green Man Festival so I made a prototype for myself that I would wear while wandering around the festival grounds.  First here is one of the suits that is waiting to be treated with Sawyer Permethrin.


After I pretreated it with Sawyer Permethrin I printed some stickers on sticker paper, which I then reinforced with tape on the sides. Here’s the front with the startup’s logo over the right front breast.



Here is the back of the suit with a larger sticker encouraging people to talk to me about the suit.




Here’s a selfie of me wearing the suit next to a blooming bush.

I also pretreated a few other suits that I took with me in case anyone wanted to buy one. I didn’t make a sale at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival but I did have a number of people approach me about the product that I’m wearing. The suit also encouraged a number of people to open up about someone they know who actually have Lyme disease. What’s more, one of my friends from my church who has been struggling with health problems for a number of years have admitted to me that she has Lyme disease. While I knew she had health issues, she didn’t go into any details about what’s ailing her before she saw me in that suit. I think this suit is definitely an ice breaker regarding encouraging people to talk about Lyme disease.

A few days later I helped out with treating and packing more of the suits for the upcoming Loudon Lyme 5K/10K/1K Fun Run that’s coming up this Sunday. Right now we are going for the homespun approach. If sales really go through the roof, then the startup will definitely contract with a factory in Pennsylvania to pretreat the suits with Sawyers Permethrin en masse (while having most of the production actually being done in the U.S. instead of China, Haiti, Indonesia, Honduras, or some other impoverished Third World country where workers are routinely exploited). Here are some photos of the production process.

Eight suits at a time were strung out on a clothesline outside that’s under a covered patio. (Which came in handy since the DC area has been raining for 15 straight days while smashing all kinds of weather records.)


The suits are sprayed with Sawyer Permethrin.


The suits are left hanging to dry overnight. One they are thoroughly dried we take them inside where we lay them out and fold them on a pool table.


Here’s a cheat sheet I created and used in order to match a suit of a certain size and whether they have bootie feet on them or not to the proper colored sheet and package.


Here’s a suit that’s all packaged and ready to sell.


We did a test run at a nearby beehive where the man on the right is wearing the pretreated suit while the beekeeper on the left is wearing a plain white suit. The Sawyer Permethrin not only didn’t harm the bees at all (which is a good thing since bees are important in terms of pollinating flowers that will produce fruit and vegetables while also producing honey) but they were also more attracted to the suit on the right than the one on the left. My unscientific hypothesis (since I’m an artist by nature and not a scientist) is that permethrin in general is made from chemicals that acts like the natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. (I’ve seen bees go crazy for chrysanthemums and other members of the aster family in the past.)


We will be selling these suits at the 6th annual Loudon Lyme 5K/10K/1K Fun Run this Sunday in Ashburn, Virginia.

UPDATE (June 25, 2016): You can read about what ultimately happened to that startup and why I’m no longer involved with it right here.