LACONIA — Six months after giving birth to her second child, Rita Toth decided to take her baby son to the beach. So she pulled her two-piece bathing suit out and off they went. She ran into a male friend while there, and she couldn’t believe what he said to her.
“He said, ‘You look great – except for the stretch marks.'” It was an offhand comment for him, it was mortifying for her.
At the time, Toth was living in Hungary, where she was working for Procter and Gamble, managing sales for paper and baby products for nine central European countries. But she had always felt like more of an entrepreneur than an employee, and now she had an idea for a product that didn’t exist in the marketplace.
Several years later, Toth moved with her boys to New Hampshire so she could continue her education. She now lives in Laconia and is enrolled in Harvard University’s master's in management program. It turns out that being enrolled in a business management program is the perfect time to conceive and launch a new business.
“I do have a passion and my own frustration. Why don’t I make a product that takes care of pregnancy scars?” She said, “We sent a man to the moon, we have not found a solution to scarring.”
Toth, who became an American citizen three years ago, started developing her product line in 2013. She started at home, researching how scars form and what can be done about them. Then she sent her proto-product to a biochemistry laboratory for finishing.
Other scar-healing products on the market were lotions that had a single active ingredient. Toth’s company, Skin Great, offers the StretchPatch, which combines 18 ingredients – designed to loosen scar tissue and boost collagen – which are delivered via a patch that adheres to the skin. The patch, which is recommended to be applied before bed and removed in the morning, also has a heating element that drives the ingredients through the epidermis and into the dermis, Toth said.
When the first batch of products came in, Toth had to try them out on herself and her friends.
“Wow, we knew it was going to be good, we didn’t know it was going to be this good,” she said. “Why would I not bring a product to the market to let other women feel the same way?”
While she recommends that customers use them nightly for a week, some online reviewers said they have seen positive results in as little as one to two applications. Oh, and by the way, the patches work on men, too, she said.
She launched her product in April 2017 and has since sold close to 10,000 units. In addition to selling through her company’s website, the StretchPatch is available through the online retailer Amazon, and she is hoping to collaborate with CVS for further marketing. She is currently working to expand her product line from three products to 20, including some patches targeted to acne scars and cellulitis.
“If I can help one woman feel better in her skin, then I did a good job.”
Toth’s story sounds like one of a self-made woman, and it is, but she found that the local environment was a nurturing and supportive one for a budding entrepreneur. The local SCORE chapter helped her figure out how to develop, patent and launch her product on a shoestring budget, and she has won local entrepreneurial competitions, which gave her access to loans and capital.
“The point that I’m trying to make is that there’s a lot of support, a lot of help in this region,” she said. Some people think that they need to go to a major metropolitan area to turn their ideas into businesses. But in Boston, she’d be one in a sea of other hopeful entrepreneurs. Here, she’s one in a handful. “New Hampshire has the money, the support, the talent, people should stop going to Massachusetts to develop their ideas. They can do that right here.”