Medgowns offer a stylish alternative for patients.
Everyone has heard the phrase, "Necessity is the mother of invention."
For the cofounders of Medgowns, it turns out that "motherhood made invention a necessity."
Last winter, Nashville natives Liza Coleman and Ashley Levi launched a company to supply patients, hospitals and high-end medical practices with a better option to the standard-issue hospital gown.
Coleman, who had spent several days in the hospital after her first child was born, didn't relish the thought of donning another drafty, faded hospital gown as she prepared for the birth of her second child.
"If you spend enough time in the hospital, you take matters into your own hands," she says with a laugh.
Two weeks before her son was born, she began searching online for a suitable option. When nothing was found, she decided to make her own.
At the same time, sister Ashley, who was also pregnant with her second child, had to spend a few days in the hospital. Coleman commissioned her to get her hands on a hospital gown and bring it home.
"She said, I'm working on something," Levi recalls, but didn't provide any additional details.
When Ashley brought a sample home … with a nurse's approval, she adds quickly … Liza set to work.
"She deconstructed it, and then reconstructed it with quality material," Levi notes. "Literally, she copied the gown to hospital standards but improved upon it."
Coleman clearly relishes the moment of truth when she arrived at the hospital to give birth to her son.
"The nurse threw an ugly, worn gown at me and said, 'Put this on.' I said, 'No, thanks, I brought my own.' I can't tell you what a difference it made in my experience."
Levi notes that the gowns, called Dreamies, are more than just a fashion choice.
"We believe if you look good, you feel good … that is so important to the recovery process," she says.
She adds that when you are in the hospital for a week or more at a time, visitors are always coming and going. "It gives you peace of mind to know you're somewhat presentable … it's a boost for your spirits."
Coleman notes, "This is no different than taking your own pillow to the hospital. It's important that patients know they deserve the right to be as comfortable as possible."
She says it also adds to patients' peace of mind since they know no one else has ever worn the gown before. Plus, it affords a small measure of control in a situation where patients often feel like they're no longer in charge.
While the Dreamie is made of pure cotton and embellished with detailing, it covers all the parameters required by a hospital gown … actually it covers even more.
"The ties are more conveniently located," Levi explains. "It's a wrap back closure so you can walk the halls with dignity."
That one slight change alone has brought the company a legion of fans who have decided to rebel against the traditional open-backed style sported by most hospital gowns.
In addition to the wrap back closure, the Dreamie has a front shirt pocket with a slit behind it that works well for access to ports or to run heart monitor wires.
The women's version comes in pink or blue with eyelet lace trim around the neck, sleeves and pocket. Men can make their own fashion statement in a version modeled after dress shirts in either a herringbone or pinstripe pattern … no eyelet lace, of course.
While the gown was originally designed for the sisters' maternity stays, both are quick to point out the audience is much broader.
"From open heart surgery patients to mothers-to-be to cancer patients … they are being used by both men and women in hospitals across the country," Levi says, adding that down the road, Medgowns would like to add a pediatric line.
Coleman notes another functional use is for long-term care patients.
"It looks like a nightgown but functions as a hospital gown," she points out.
The "Comfort Plus" Dreamie is available for $49, while the "Ultra Luxury" style made of 100 percent pima cotton retails for $69. The one-size-fits-all gowns are manufactured in the United States and are available online at www.medgowns.com.
Locally, Especially Baby and The Children's Shop are carrying the gowns and marketing them as shower gifts for expectant mothers.
Based on their current success, Coleman says, "We hope to have them available in hospital gift shops around the country."