Updated: Oct 31, 2020
Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourselves! What are your favorite food? Favorite season? Do you have pets? Best place you’ve ever visited? Tell us what makes you sparkle!
A: Holly: I love tacos and woodfired pizza, my favorite season is summer (boating!) and fall. I am the lucky mom of two adorable Boston Terriers: Betsy and Eloise, they keep me busy. The best places I have visited would be Turks and Caicos, Belize and Arizona. I am planning to explore England and Australian within the next 5 years, I also have a pretty decent British accent!
Ali: I got married almost one year ago now to my husband, Cameron. We have a
dachshund, Vinny who is the best boy ever! Cameron and I love to travel. Our favorite trip so far has been to Italy back in 2017. We are currently looking to plan a cross country trip (if anyone has any tips/experience, please let me know!!!). I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and spending time outside!
Q: What degree(s) do you have (any specialties you hold if applicable) what made you interested in pursuing OT, what have you been up to since graduation?
A: Holly: I have an Associate of Science Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant and a Bachelor's Degree in Human Development and Family Studies. When I was a senior in high school I was able to volunteer weekly at a local rehabilitation hospital and watch patients progress through OT, PT and SLP. This opened my eyes to the distinct value of Occupational Therapy and I fell in love. Since graduation, Ali and I founded Purpose Therapy Box, started an OT apparel line and are on a mission to remind older adults they still have Purpose! I work PRN in a skilled nursing facility and also love photography.
Ali: I have an Associate of Science degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant and a bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies. A friend of mine pursued OT first (I had no clue what OT was!) so once she told me what OT entailed, I was hooked. I enjoy working with older adults so since graduation I have worked PRN for a local SNF and part-time at our local hospital in acute care and offering outpatient services to adults and children.
Q: Let’s talk about entrepreneurship and Purpose Therapy Box! Firstly, what is Purpose Therapy Box? What inspired you to create it? Who do you aim to serve with your mission and products?
A: Purpose Therapy Box started as a subscription box service that families could purchase and send to their older loved ones to stay connected. It has grown into so much more than that since 2018. We still offer the original Purpose Quarterly Subscription Boxes for older adults and family members are able to upload photos and personalized messages into each box! All of those boxes have an underlying therapeutic theme, that highlight the major areas of decline we see in older adults (cognition, fine motor, etc). We have additionally launched one time purchase boxes as well as our Sponsor a Senior Program. Our Sponsor Program allows anyone to “sponsor” or purchase a box and those boxes are delivered or shipped to senior care facilities to seniors in need. We partner with the facilities social workers and activity directors to determine which residents do not receive visitors or do not have family and boxes are distributed to those seniors. This year, we were very excited to announce the launch of our Occupational Therapy Subscription Box and Apparel Line. We had been planning this for a long time and are excited to offer products to help OTs and OT students advocate for the profession in a fun way! Our OT Objective Subscription Box is for OT practitioners and students. The boxes are shipped semi-annually (April and November), highlight OT entrepreneurship, and include apparel, stickers, documentation tips, treatment ideas and so much more!
Q: Okay, so you had this really exciting idea, and at what point did you make a decision to actually create something with your visions? What were the first few steps you took to get started? How were you feeling along that path? Did you have support or was it a lot of trial and error?
A: We were still in college at Penn State University when we decided to officially launch Purpose Therapy Box! Thankfully Penn State is advocating for entrepreneurship and has a business incubator associated with all branches so we were able to utilize their resources to develop our business plan, branding and legal aspects. One of the first steps we took was going to local assisted living facilities and nursing homes and interviewing staff and residents about our idea, asking what they would like in a box and how much they interact with their families. We had a lot of trial and error, especially with building our website and figuring out logistics. Our lives were consumed with Youtube how-to videos and listening to podcasts on how others built their business.
Q: Piggy backing off of that, how did you find resources for logistical business aspects of your work - e.g. creating an LLC, managing your revenue/expenses, did you need a lawyer, paying your taxes, etc?
A: Our University was extremely helpful in offering free resources to us (legal and
accounting services) to get us started. We were able to use these resources to create our LLC and get on the right track with our finances/taxes. There is also a program called SCORE, that is offered within a lot of cities around the United States. This program is comprised of individuals who are professionals within a certain field (marketing, accounting, etc) that want to help small businesses for free. You can visit their website to find the nearest meeting place to you and schedule to sit down with them. It is a great resource and many of these individuals have connections far beyond the SCORE program that can lead to some pretty awesome relationships.
Q: What does a typical day/week look like for you regarding your business and your more traditional roles as COTAs? (e.g. How many hours are you working on average? Where are you completing your work? Where do you store you packaging and products?
A: As COTAs we typically work 20-30 hours a week working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and occasionally on the weekends. We dedicate 40+ hours per week to Purpose. We have an office space where we work on Tuesday, Thursday, and weekends, but the nice thing about running an online business is that we can work from anywhere when we aren’t physically shipping products. We both spend a lot of time on our computers in the evenings working on other aspects of our business.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge to-date?
A: One of our biggest challenges has been deciding to start a business with little to no experience or business degree. Taking on all of the aspects of business such as marketing, communications, website development, product sourcing, graphic design, distribution, and shipping/packaging can be a bit overwhelming at times. We have created our own system of dividing tasks/areas of the business to stay organized and efficient.
Q: What was it like when you got your first order?!
A: So exciting! I remember us both looking at each other and thinking wow, people actually believe in us and our mission!
Q: What has been your favorite part about starting a business/becoming entrepreneurs?
A: Holly: My favorite is designing products we are proud of and seeing how passionate others are towards seniors! Being an entrepreneur has allowed us freedoms and opportunities we never dreamed possible!
Q: You both are co-CEOs and owners of a growing business AND you both work in
traditional roles as COTAs; what has it been like to balance all of these big
A: You definitely need to practice time management and be organized. Since we have a subscription Model this allows us to plan in advance our launches and products. We both have complementary skill sets so we tackle different aspects of the business each day. We also complete a growth report meeting every month to discuss what worked/what didn't and deadlines we have coming up.
Q: How do you personally prioritize your self-care and prevent/manage burnout?
A: Holly: I like to spend time outdoors caring for my lemon trees. Also I listen to a lot of podcasts when i'm driving to work or the Purpose office (I have a roughly 40 minute commute so your podcast length is perfect!)
Ali: Everynight I like to turn my computer off and set my phone down to spend time with my husband and our dog. We normally will watch our favorite show or go for a walk together and talk about our day.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in the future? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
A: Holly: I am extremely excited to see Purpose’s growth in the next 5 years. I would love to have our Sponsor a Senior Program implemented across the country and also become the top company for therapy apparel and accessories! Personally, I see myself building a house and traveling with my dogs.
Ali: I see myself working full time for Purpose Therapy Box and a PRN COTA. My husband and I would also like to build our dream house and also get another dachshund!
Q: Where would you like to see the OT profession as a whole in 5-10 years?
A: I would like to see our profession focus less on productivity standards/ insurance and more on patient care. Additionally I think it is important for all Occupational Therapy Practitioners and Students to continue advocating for our profession and fighting for ethical standards.
Q: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourselves? Would
you warn yourselves to NEVER do something? Or cheer yourselves on to do something faster?
A: Holly: If I could go back in time I would make sure to cherish time with my loved ones, and I would have adamantly watched/helped my great grandma Petie make her famous homemade rolls because they just don’t taste the same when I make them now.
Q: Any words of wisdom for other therapists who want to be entrepreneurs and are nervous to take the leap of faith?
A: DO IT!! The Occupational Therapy community is amazing and bigger than you think, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and pitch your idea/ ask for help. It’s not meant to be easy and it will push you out of your comfort zone.
Q: What life motto do you live by?
A: “Dreams don’t work unless you do”
Q: If you could do it all again would you pursue your same degree and become an OT?
A: Absolutely! We would both be COTA’s but would pursue a business degree as well.
P.S. your followers can use code “SpilltheOT” for 10% off any purchase or “Spill5” for $5 off the OT Objective Subscription Box!
- Facebook and Instagram: @purposetherapybox
-Youtube, Pinterest, and Linkedin: Purpose The Therapeutic Subscription Box
Holly Masters, 23, Co-Founder Purpose Therapy Box | COTA/L. Holly currently resides in the small town of Gustavus, Ohio works as a COTA/L and is Co-CEO of Purpose Therapy Box. She is passionate about the older adult population, accessibility and helping others advocate for Occupational Therapy. Holly earned her Associate of Science Degree and Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University and co-founded Purpose in June of 2018. An accomplishment she is most proud of is winning the FedEx Small Business Grant in 2019.
Ali Izzo-Linton, 23, Co-Founder Purpose Therapy Box | COTA/L Ali is from Hermitage, Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband Cameron, and their dachshund Vinny. Ali earned her Associate of Science Degree and Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University. She works as a COTA/L in an acute care hospital providing services to the adult and pediatric populations and is the Co-CEO of Purpose Therapy Box. In her spare time she enjoys going on walks with her dog, spending time with her niece and nephew and decorating her home. An accomplishment she is most proud of is getting to design unique Occupational Therapy Apparel and accessories.
Background on Purpose: Founded in June of 2018 by COTAs Ali & Holly While completing their clinicals for their OTA Program in SNFs, they noticed that many residents were isolated and disconnected from their family members. They talked about it often and wanted to come up with a solution. Originally, they created Purpose specifically for seniors. They developed a Quarterly Subscription Box that family members could purchase to be sent to their elderly loved ones. Families can upload photos and messages to personalize the boxes and we also offer one time purchases boxes such as Thinking Of You and Birthday Boxes. From there, they noticed that they were still missing a large portion of older adults who do not have family, so they created our Sponsor a Senior Program. Our sponsor program allows ANYONE to purchase a box, and those boxes are hand-delivered to older adults in senior care facilities who do not have family or who do not receive regular visitors. They have always wanted to be more involved in the huge OT Community, which is why Holly and Ali have expanded Purpose to provide a Subscription Box and OT Apparel and accessories for OT Practitioners and Students as well! Purpose was Nationally recognized by former AOTA President Amy Lamb during her Presidential Address at the AOTA Conference in 2019, won the FedEx Small Business Grant in 2019 out of 13,000 companies and received first place in the WPSU pitch competition “The Investment”.