Audrey Spirit LLC is an inspiring example of a business born out of passion, need, and love.
In 2011, Donna Yadrich lost her beloved 15-year-old daughter, Audrey Grace, from complications of serious medical problems. Although appreciative of the tremendous care Audrey received during her countless hospitalizations, Donna observed that generic hospital gowns stripped young patients of their youthful attitude and personal dignity. Street wear worn in the hospital required a nurse to unhook and re-hook medical lines just to change in to a clean shirt. During Audrey’s final hospitalization, Donna made customized t-shirts that were both “hospital-friendly” and also expressed Audrey’s spunky personality. After 25 years in the medical field, Donna experienced a lapse in employment after Audrey’s death. That is when Donna decided to launch Audrey Spirit LLC, a clothing manufacturer that continues her daughter’s mission – to make difficult times that hospital patients face as personable, comfortable and empowering as possible.
The first line of Audrey Spirit apparel includes xamtees™; these therapeutic t-shirts help nurses get around invasive medical devices without having to disconnect them or contort the patient’s body into uncomfortable positions. Most importantly, the clothing looks “normal.” Donna worked with an apparel designer to develop original, patent-pending designs for high quality garments that are comfortable and useful in medical environments.
With the help of the JCCC KSBDC, Audrey Spirit LLC marked its first commercial sale of xamtee™ therapeutic garments to a local children’s hospital in 2013. Donna explained that “without the support and guidance of the KSBDC, I would not have found a U.S. manufacturer to produce the garments that are being worn today by children fighting cancer and other critical illnesses.” Donna has been meeting with Elisa Waldman of the KSBDC on a regular basis since 2012. According to Donna, “Elisa provides an unmatched dimension of practical and visionary support for my small business.”
Convincing seasoned healthcare professionals to support a new venture, like Audrey Spirit LLC, and to embrace an innovative new product is challenging in the healthcare industry. Donna spent many months forging relationships within the healthcare system. She organized beta tests and meticulously surveyed patients, nurses, and doctors to gather feedback and suggestions for improvement of xamtee™ t-shirts. Now that the t-shirts are available for sale, Donna continues to champion the needs of her customers by seeking payment for Audrey Spirit xamtee™ through medical insurance.
Donna has taken full advantage of KSBDC offerings including QuickBooks courses, business plan review, and in-depth assessment of financial goals and projections. Donna believes that “having the confidence through preparation and the numbers to support my financial projections directly reflects the efforts of the KSBDC. Elisa required me to stop avoiding unknown details and create a five-year sales plan. As a result, Audrey Spirit LLC won a $5000 award in a local pitch contest!”
Donna is an outstanding example of an entrepreneur who is succeeding as a result of determination, hard work, persistence, and the support of seasoned professionals. When Donna is asked for advice from new business owners, she always tells them that “every obstacle is an opportunity.” Donna truly practices this advice, and she remains busy identifying opportunities and designing future medical industry products worthy of Audrey’s legacy.
About Audrey Spirit
Owner: Donna Macan Yadrich
Nature of Business: Therapeutic Garment Manufacturer
City: Kansas City, Kansas
Phone/website: (913) 980-6282 www.audreyspirit.com
About our consultant Elisa Waldman
Elisa Waldman brings her past experiences as an attorney and a retail store owner to her current position as a consultant for the Kansas Small Business Development Center (Kansas SBDC) at JCCC. Prior to joining the Kansas SDBC in 2005, Elisa earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her law degree from George Washington University. Elisa practiced law in the Kansas City area with a focus on land use and business litigation, and she worked as the Advocacy Manager and in-house Counsel for the Academy of General Dentistry in Chicago, Illinois. While in Chicago, Elisa also taught as an adjunct professor at DePaul University Law School. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Business Law at Johnson County Community College.
Elisa left the practice of law to pursue her creative and entrepreneurial interests by opening Paint Glaze & Fire, Inc., a retail paint-your-own pottery studio in Overland Park. Elisa opened her small business with the assistance of the Kansas SBDC. During her eight years of ownership, Elisa was responsible for all areas of business operations including marketing, finance, technical training, employee relations and customer service. In 2000, Elisa opened Successful Studio Consulting Inc. and has assisted over 200 pottery studios in opening their doors throughout the United States and Canada. Upon selling her studio, Elisa joined the Kansas SBDC as a full-time consultant.