Ever wondered how and why RE3 started?
A few people have asked me about the origins of RE3 and what motivated me to develop a range of ice compression packs. Personally, I love reading founder stories and learning about why people are in business and what makes them tick.
So, if you’ve ever been curious about the story behind RE3, this one’s for you.
How it started: with rubbery joints + frozen peas
If I try to boil down RE3’s origin story to a few words, I come up with “rubbery joints and frozen peas”. It sounds odd out of context, I know, so let me explain.
A few years ago, my daughters were swimming competitively. They’re both hyper-mobile and have rubbery joints, and this meant they had constant issues with their knees. They’d each cover around 4km in one training session and by the end of each session, their knees would be inflamed, sore and swollen.
You can imagine I had two unhappy campers at home. They wanted to swim and train each day – but were in constant pain.
We traipsed around town seeing physios and other specialists, trying to find a solution.
“Just ice the injury,” they all said. Ha! If only it were this easy.
“Just ice the injury”: not as easy as it sounds
I had two choices: first, a bag of peas, which would warm up to room temperature quickly and slip off their knee with the slightest movement. The second option wasn’t much better. Basically, it was a bag of ice with a screw-top lid and straps that wouldn’t stay in place. I had to shovel ice into the bag and it would sweat, drip and make a mess. Not only did I need a constant supply of ice on hand, but the hard edges of the ice would poke into the girls’ legs.
Spoiler alert: the girls hated both options. They faced a life of constant pain, or giving away a sport they loved.
Belinda's daughters faced constant pain from competitive swimming - so she set out to find a solution.
There has to be a better way
After years of seeing what didn’t work, I knew exactly what I wanted. It had to:
- Be soft enough that the girls would use it
- Hold its temperature
- Last through thousands of training sessions
- Be portable so the girls weren’t stuck on the couch
- Include a compression element so we could hit two parts of recovery at once – ice and compression
I searched high and low for something like this. Even something that ticked the first box would be better than what we already had!
A business owner by necessity
Honestly? I never set out to be an entrepreneur or business owner, but I couldn’t find anything like this on the market.
I decided to develop a product out of sheer necessity. I wanted to make something better than what was available – not just for me, but for all the other kids and parents who faced a choice between not training, or experiencing pain.
First, I knew I needed to talk to experts in various fields, so I met with as many people as I could.
- Surfers to talk about wetsuit material
- Scientists to talk about the freezing point of different liquids
- Seamstresses willing to work with neoprene
- Sports doctors, physios (physical therapists) and osteos to talk about recovery from injury
- Trade fairs to talk about the manufacturing process
I listened, learned, and revised my initial idea until I got it right. Most of the time I was going by gut instinct, with a hefty dose of grit and determination.
25 prototypes and counting
From the outset, I put quality above everything else. I knew if I produced a high-quality product that met a common need and solved a common problem, the rest would follow.
It was hard to find a factory large enough to be reputable, but small enough to be willing to make prototypes.
It was even harder to find the right material and design for the core blanket inside – something soft that would hold its temperature.
We made about 25 prototypes of this element alone, which meant a five-year gap between having the original idea and RE3 hitting the shelves in late 2018.
But I persisted until I got it right. And today, we have a product I’m really proud of. Four actually.
Belinda started RE3 with a knee product, but quickly expanded the range to cover all kinds of common injuries.
RE3 was born
I made the product to help my girls recover faster without pain. I called it RE3 because I thought it would help other athletes to:
- Recover their strength (from injury faster)
- Revive their body
- Return to form
But I’ve been blown away by how many people it helps – so many more than I originally had in mind. I get emails from people around the world who:
- Have used our products to recover from hip surgery
- Live with MS or a spinal cord injury and use RE3 to help regulate their body temperature
- Have lived in chronic pain for years and take fewer pain meds with regular RE3 use.
Not only does this surprise me, but I feel honoured, humbled and delighted to have this kind of impact. Forget aiming for a percentage of market share – THIS is the very definition of success for me.