Mazy Holiday is the founder, president and creative mind behind WhatBox, Inc. As an inventor, her designs are based on her experience and are inspired by everyday needs. She’s a fearless businesswoman with a dry wit and a big heart, and she’s not only passionate about usability and practicality, but also dedicated to sustainability and creating products that will positively impact future generations. We are delighted to visit with today’s FACE of Birmingham, Mazy Holiday!
Where did you grow up and, if not from Birmingham, what brought you here?
I grew up on a farm in Arkansas. Although my father was a chemistry professor, he loved the quiet and nature, and as it turned out, so did I. I came to Birmingham because of a man; he’s still around here somewhere I think.
Tell us about your professional journey. How did you become an inventor?
My background is in sculpture, and being a sculptor is not unlike being an inventor. You’re building something that never existed – something that came out of your imagination. The only difference is that I make products you can use, not just admire from a distance. My practical side demands superior design and efficacy in tools that are meant to do a job for you or make a job easier or more pleasant. In addition to these criteria, my grandmother taught me “waste not, want not.” Therefore, it’s important to make products that also can be reused, recycled or at least biodegradable when they don’t make it to the recycle bin. I’ve had product ideas for 12 years at least but didn’t know how to make them. After seeing some of my ideas brought to market by someone else, I decided I should just dive in and figure it out, which is usually what I do with any endeavor. My first thought is, It’s not rocket science; how hard can it be? And then sometimes rocket science starts looking pretty good compared to what I’m tackling. But, I can’t imagine doing anything else, unless I was offered my own cooking show, a back-up singer gig or personal shoe shopper job.
Tell us about the iStand Walking Cane and iStand Exercise Program.
The iStand Walking Cane with SmartWalk® Technology is a revolutionary cane that will prevent and detect falls and has GPS tracking and safety features, revolutionizing healthcare for senior citizens and those with Alzheimer’s and dementia who may become lost, as it will enable caregivers to locate them via the GPS tracking device. It is also designed to help minimize stress and strain to the back, shoulder, elbow and wrist. Unlike traditional canes that are rigid and inflexible, the iStand Walking Cane enables flexibility, comfort, cushion and a fuller range of motion.
Designed to accompany the cane, the iStand Exercise Program was developed to help strengthen senior citizens, improve their balance and prevent falls through routines based on Tai Chi and Otago. It is the first evidence-based exercise program that delivers carefully selected exercise routines proven to lower blood pressure, increase musculoskeletal strength and reduce the risk of falls by up to 50%. The program is available through online streaming and mobile applications.
What motivated you to help senior citizens in this way?
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among seniors. One in three seniors fall each year, and senior falls cost $28 billion a year, so I wanted to come up with a way to help change that. The iStand Walking Cane was actually inspired by my own experience. I have allergy-related arthritis, so there have been times when it was so bad I couldn’t walk. I needed a cane with some cushion for my shoulder. But you also have a full range of motion when you take a step, so that’s why it has the spring in the shaft but also in the bottom so you have both. So, I wanted to provide a product that would help those senior citizens who deal with pain like that daily.
Tell us about Paples and FragranceFilters.
Paples are shreddable, recyclable staples made almost entirely of paper that fit into any standard stapler, making it easy to shred and recycle stapled documents. By eliminating the need to remove steel staples before shredding, Paples save time and their simplicity increases the likelihood that people will engage in sustainable practices.
FragranceFilters are scented, Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 8 Air Filters that capture dust, pollen, mold spores, household lint and dust mites while also releasing one of three carefully crafted scents: lemon, lavender or cinnamon. Most air fresheners contain phthalates and can disrupt hormone function and reproductive development as well as aggravate respiratory ailments. The fragrances in this product are free of parabens, phthalates, carcinogens, terpenes and hydrocarbons. The combination of safe fragrance with the benefits of a MERV 8 Filter makes FragranceFilters a great product for everyone.
What do you love most about being an inventor?
I love solving problems and building things. Being able to do both is a dream job.
What is most challenging about your job?
Creating useful products is the easy part. It is everything else that follows that is the real work.
What is your favorite thing about Birmingham?
The trees. It is the first thing I noticed when I moved here 15 years ago. I had never seen so many trees inside the city limits. It’s like having both the city and the country around you every day.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Most of my life, I never had cable TV, and I didn’t have much time to watch it anyway. Then 10 years ago, Netflix came along. I find I hate TV, but I love Netflix, or anything streaming, so I usually relax watching crime dramas with a movie-sized bucket of popcorn.
Favorite local eatery?
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If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
You don’t need those shoes. Buy stock instead.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Surround yourself with people smarter and better than you. The hard part is “weeding your garden” of the people that bring you down.
Name three frivolous or light-hearted things you can’t live without.
Coffee, lip gloss and popcorn.
Thank you, Mazy! Learn more about Mazy’s brilliant inventions at WhatBox, Inc. at whatboxinc.com.
Thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for the fabulous photos of Mazy in her home office.