While working as an occupational therapist in a skilled nursing facility, NYU Steinhardt OT alum Cami Culwell (MS ‘12) noticed the standard-issue medical bag she used to carry her clinical tools was flawed – it lacked organized pockets, took up too much space, and simply didn’t look modern.
“I needed a bag for myself that was functional and fashionable,” Culwell said. “I couldn't find the bag I was looking for on the market and decided to create it myself.”
The result of Culwell’s quest is Clinitote – a line of practical yet sleek bags designed for clinicians by a clinician. We sat down with Culwell to learn more about Clinitote and her entrepreneurial journey.
How did your background in occupational therapy contribute to your ability to found Clinitote?
As an OT, I developed the skills of problem-solving and thinking outside of the box. This definitely helped me in the creative process when designing my bags. For example, I designed my treatment bags to contain several pockets that fit the medical tools most commonly used by clinicians.
What was the process of bringing Clinitote bags to market like?
The process of bringing Clinitote to the market took about two years. Since I never attended design school, I needed a lot of assistance. I reached out to my friends in the fashion industry and found a mentor who was a handbag designer. She helped guide me throughout the entire process and helped put my designs into tech packs (blueprints for manufacturers). After having multiple prototypes/samples made over several months, my bags were finally ready for production.
What's your advice for other OTs looking to launch their own businesses and products?
My advice is to find a mentor with experience in the industry. You can start by asking family and friends if they, or anyone they know, have experience in the industry and would be willing to mentor you. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE also provide free mentoring and offer many other services to small businesses.
What do you hope is the impact of Clinitote?
As a clinician, I understand the energy and compassion that we devote to our clients every day. If Clinitote can alleviate even one problem, then we are one step closer to helping clinicians reach their full potential.