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We had no clue where we’d be sitting today. We’re climbing fast and we’re becoming one of the top hot and cold therapy product companies in the nation.

Debra Hedden

Luxury Therapeutics

When the Great Recession of 2008 hit, many small businesses were shuttered as customers disappeared overnight. For Debra Hedden, an interior designer who ran a retail shop in the mountain resort town of Cashiers, NC, the same was true for her business. But good entrepreneurs are often able to turn difficult situations into opportunities with ingenuity, hard work, and some assistance from experts who can point them in the right direction. And that’s exactly what Debra and her mother Karen were able to do through their new business—Luxury Therapeutics.

Closing her interior design retail shop in the midst of the recession was one of the scariest moments for Debra Hedden. But when she went from working on 30 to 40 jobs at a time, “as hard as you can go, as fast as you can go,” to no business at all, it was out of her hands. “Sometimes it’s hard to let go,” Debra said, especially when it’s something you have worked at for so long. Even so, she wouldn’t let herself be defeated by this setback.

As a single mom who needed an income, Debra decided to reinvent herself.

Before the shop closed, Debra’s mother Karen, who has been battling fibromyalgia for decades, was using leftover designer fabric to sew hot and cold therapy products to help relieve the pain of her condition. Her toile and chevron heat packs became conversation starters, and anyone who saw them asked where they could get one for themselves.

Remembering the popularity of her mother’s therapy products and looking at the many yards of unused fabric left over from her business, Debra and Karen started producing those hot and cold therapy items and put them up for sale. Karen wasn’t sure enough people would want her creations, but it turned out her modesty was unwarranted—they sold as fast as the pair could make them.

Initially they planned to sell their therapy products at craft shows, but large numbers of these items can be heavy, and lugging inventory back and forth from show to show was not ideal, and undoable in the long term. That’s when the two decided to ask for help. Fortunately, the pair found Mountain BizWorks. Debra took part in the ScaleUp WNC program, for businesses in Western North Carolina with high potential for growth and job creation, where she focused on developing several spa and wellness industry growth opportunities for the business.

With the combined knowledge of Mountain BizWorks’s local expert-led courses and Debra and Karen’s quality therapy products, Luxury Therapeutics took off. “We had no clue [then] where we’d be sitting today,” Debra said. “We’re climbing fast and we’re becoming one of the top hot and cold therapy product companies in the nation.”

Debra Hedden with her mother, daughter and granddaughter standing outside in the sun, Franklin, NC. Mountain BizWorks
Debra Hedden with her family

The two of them have found not just success, but joy in their new business together. They delight in finding the perfect design and materials for each piece they make, surrounded by luxurious textiles and natural grains and lavender. Each order is sewn, wrapped, and packaged by hand with the utmost care—something their customers appreciate and a big reason why many keep coming back. They go home at night satisfied, knowing they’ve helped people who are in pain feel a little bit better. Everyone should feel pampered and taken care of, and if Luxury Therapeutics can provide that for even a moment, they’ve done their job.

From a difficult spot in a rough economy, Luxury Therapeutics has grown into an incredible success story.

“We’ve had our hard times,” Debra said. “We just keep thinking of ways to plug through it and keep going, get better, get bigger. We’re entrepreneurs, we always have been.”