What each new step brings
I can't believe all the people who have helped me bring this year long project so close to completion! It's been a big challenge for me to reach people with trich to get their feedback. It is amazing how supportive strangers are and how healing it is to connect with so many people with this issue. I have worked for one year figuring out the formulation, pitching to events to raise funds for a small product run, working on the manufacturing and distribution logistics, as well as designing an IRB study. Everyone who tried it said it was helpful which was really rewarding to hear. I can't wait to get more feedback and work on more projects for trich! This project all started one year ago with just an idea and a competition submission.
So what happened when I created my product and started using it? First of all, I had to keep using the product if I started pulling. You have to carry it with you and apply it when you find yourself starting to pull. After 2 months, the rhythmic pulling pattern doesn't feel as strong. I got used to "applying" a sensation in place of pulling in order to create a sensation. I started opting for the new sensation and I opted to get in front of the movement before it began to take hold. My brain started "looking" for the hair conditioner. The Prohibere sensation replaced the pulling sensation. Now the pattern of pulling feels like a faint song instead of a blaring call begging me to pull.
I was able to give some samples to a few others with trich and they liked it. Some people said it was helpful for their headaches and migraines too. My next step was submitting to the BYOBB Competition to get more funding! This was a more intensive process than the IEI because I had to create a business plan (which again I had no experience in). I knew nothing about manufacturing or "profit margins". I had to become a business woman in 3 months.
My next stop was finding manufacturers to work with my budget of $10,000. I called a lot of manufacturers and most just didn't work with small batch sizes which was all I could afford. I even had one account executive tell me I wouldn't be ale to get this project off the ground for less than $100,000. Eventually I found a place that would do minimum quantities that I could actually afford. So I paid my deposits and waited. I found a journalist interested in the story. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that stories get sensationalized to be newsworthy. Even asking a journalist to change words like "cure" or "freak" doesn't guarantee they will. I hope people can overlook the sensationalism for the bigger picture here.
Million dollar question: So are you done pulling? Are you "cured"?
Me: I wouldn't say that. That same rhythmic song could start playing louder and my body could start pulling again. However, I know what it feels like for the song to be faint which is a brand new feeling. I can turn my back on that "pull signal" and get further away from it.
Everyone is unique and with trich it is no different. Maybe there are some individuals for whom this product will not be useful. Instead of waiting for the perfect silver bullet in 20-30 years, I'll settle for some help until then. I'd love a cure. Since trich isn't life threatening and can be hidden, the research into a trich "cure" has been lackluster. I hope more people decide to create new methods and products to manage trich so other people can feel some relief and hope! All the different tools out there can help.
Maybe a combination of tools will get someone's pulling down more than 50% or even 90%. Maybe that person will "fall off the wagon" one day, but even just 50% over all is good progress. Just 50% could be the difference between having a thin spot and a full on bald spot. Anytime you re-enforce the pathway in the brain to stop pulling, the stronger the new non-pull pathway becomes, like a worn trail in the forrest.