Purpose Therapy Box Creators: Holly and Ali

Purpose Therapy Box Founders

What is your full name and title at your current job?

Holly Masters, COTA/L – Co-founder of Purpose Therapy Box
Ali Izzo-Linton, COTA/L – Co-founder of Purpose Therapy Box

Where did you go to COTA school, and what year did you graduate?

Holly: Penn State Shenango
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy; graduated December 2017
Bachelors in Human Development and Family; Studies graduated December 2018 

Ali: Penn State Shenango
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy; graduated December 2017
Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies; graduated December 2018 

What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

Holly: Started in February of 2018, SNF with the geriatric population and a rehab hospital working with diagnosis such as TBI and CVA.

Ali: Started in March of 2018, SNF with the geriatric population and acute rehab hospital working with pediatrics, ortho, and lymphedema .

Where did you get the idea for Purpose Therapy Box?

We wanted to help the older adult population in addition to just therapy sessions!

We were both receiving subscription boxes at the time and thought what a cool idea it would be to use the primary form of communication with older adults, mail—and then mix that with the newer subscription model! 

What are you doing these days?

We are both working as COTAs and growing Purpose Therapy Box. We’re also launching a new box and apparel/accessory line for OT practitioners and students!

Are you still treating patients, or are you solely running Purpose Therapy Box?

We are still treating patients! The goal is to run Purpose full-time and work as COTAs PRN. It is sometimes difficult to manage working, growing a company, and having a social life—but it’s manageable! 

If you’re still treating patients, about what percentage of your time is spent clinically vs. non-clinically?

We are both still treating patients 3-4 full days a week and running Purpose after work/all times in between.

How long have you been in your current role?

We’ve both been practicing COTAs for over two years. We launched Purpose Therapy Box in June, 2018. 

Where did you get the idea for Purpose Therapy Box?

We got the idea for Purpose while completing our clinicals in senior care facilities. We noticed that many residents were isolated and disconnected from their family members.

This sparked the idea of the subscription because it is an easy way to stay connected with family members through the mail and everybody loves receiving mail!! 

What types of products or services do you offer?

Purpose is a subscription box company. Our original subscription is geared toward the older adult population.

These boxes are shipped quarterly and are able to be personalized on our website. Family members can upload photos and messages to be included in each box. The boxes are based on therapy themes, such as cognition, fine-motor, strengthening, and self care. 

You mentioned expanding into a new market! Do tell…

Our OT Objective subscription box is for OT practitioners and students. This box is shipped semi-annually, and includes products that are useful for clinical use, as well as OT apparel and accessories, treatment ideas, research, and other fun OT-related items. 

How have people reacted to your business?

Our employers and co-workers are very supportive of our business endeavors! 

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you?

We both work as COTAs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (and weekends, if needed).

Tuesdays and Thursdays are spent in the Purpose office from 8am until our work is completed for the day (typically 8-10 hours). If we aren’t in the office on weeknights after working as COTAs, most of the time we are at home on our computers doing something related to the business.

Owning a business takes up a lot of your time! 

What are some of the challenges of your role? What are the rewards?

Business is time-consuming. It can get difficult to manage our COTA jobs, running and growing the business, and our personal lives. 

It is so rewarding to know that we are helping families stay connected and helping seniors in need with our Sponsor a Senior Program. 

We also LOVE knowing that we are a part of a huge OT community and are able to offer something special to our fellow OT practitioners and students!

How do you think working as a COTA prepared you for entrepreneurship?

HBeing a COTA has helped immensely with running Purpose! Learning to multi-task and giving family education has translated and helped with public speaking, pitching our company, and growing.

Plus, having clinical experience and working with the geriatric population allows us to product source for our subscription boxes and create relatable and useful content for social media/blogs. 

What type of person do you think would do well in this type of OTpreneur role?

Someone who is detail-oriented, has great communication skills, and is able to take initiative with tasks that may be outside of their comfort zone or skill set.

As a business owner, it is wonderful to be able to hire individuals with specific skill sets but typically in the beginning, you’ve got to roll with anything that comes your way!  

Do you work remotely or on-site?

With the subscription business, we are able to work remotely when necessary; however, we have an office where we spend much of our time. In that office, we are able to store our inventory and package our boxes. 

Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals? If so, what type of roles, and where can people find these job postings?

We are always looking to partner with PT, OT, and/or SLP professionals who have backgrounds in graphic design and marketing. We are not currently hiring, but in the future would love to be able to hire professionals from our own discipline and others to collaborate on items to include in the boxes. 

Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

We LOVE podcasts! We listen to business and inspirational podcasts all of the time, such as:

  • Rise Podcast by Rachel Hollis
  • How I Built This with Guy Raz
  • Making it Work presented by FedEx
  • The Dave Ramsay Show
  • Seniors Flourish with Mandy Chamberlain
  • On the Air with Stephanie Lancaster

These podcasts have given us incredible insight and motivation. 

What is next for you? What do you want to do with your careers long-term?

Long-term, we would love for Purpose to be our full-time careers, and work PRN as COTAs. We have big dreams for Purpose that will require full-time work in the near future. 

What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours?

Owning a business takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. Do your research before jumping in head-first. 

What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?

We would love to increase accessibility. There are so many senior-care facilities out there that are not fully accessible for the residents/patients.

All facilities should have mandatory guidelines that make it easy for all residents to get around safely and with ease. 

If you could give yourself one piece of career advice you wish you had during your COTA programs, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!! In school and starting my out, it sometimes feels like you’re expected to just know everything or figure it out on your own if you didn’t know.

Then you realize that your professors and supervisors tend to like when you ask questions and take the initiative to learn something new. 

Do you have any special advice for other PT/OT/SLP/assistants who want to follow in your footsteps?

Take some business classes. You don’t necessarily need a business degree to start a business but it definitely helps to know the basics.

We did not take any business classes in college, but feel that it could have been very beneficial to us if we would have known. We do listen to business podcasts, read books, and attend seminars/classes in our community to learn as much as we can! 

Where can people find you on social media?

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Thanks for your insight, Holly and Ali!


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