Cousins come up with business idea while grappling with chemo
OAKLAND, Calif. - Cousins James Lim and Jenny Beeghly will tell you they've always been close, ever since they were kids. In fact, they both agree they got into a bit of trouble together.
"We are very free spirited. We were, we are a lot more uptight now," laughed James.
Jenny took a more diplomatic approach and described them now as "grown up adults and we are adulting."
Both are married with families. James is a doctor, in the East Bay and Jenny lives in southern California and has made her career in fashion.
Last year, the tough news came when Jenny went to the emergency room.
"I found out in April of 2018," she said "I had leukemia."
It was shocking news for her and her family.
"The only time I have ever been in the hospital was for the birth of my kids and I was meal planning on Sundays working out and eating well, so yeah it was a surprise to me."
Chemotherapy started immediately, as did the search for a bone marrow donor. In July of 2018 she got a bone marrow transplant, and in the hospital, an idea formed.
"Jenny was on a road to recovery," said James, "and she couldn't look at her life the same way anymore and I thought hey let's do this."
Doing "this" meant taking Jenny's fashion expertise and her dream of starting her own company and partnering it with James’ love of fashion and his career in medicine. Together they decided to start a high end medical scrubs company, something they describe as the Lululemon of hospital scrubs.
"95% of people in the hospital have to purchase their own scrubs," said James. "There is no real regulation to them and scrubs used to be very unisex and boxy made out of the same material as cheap bedsheets meant for disposability. We are taking a different angle ours are super comfortable."
Even though Jenny was fighting cancer, she said the timing was perfect.
"Instead of I’ll do it later I have to do it now I have to seize the moment. From the hospital room I started going on my computer and contacting all the factories and started working."
It was a joint effort. While she was doing that, James was on the ground getting feedback. "I was at the hospital," he said. “Asking nurses and techs what’s important in scrubs? What would you like to see?"
And the company now known as Perilla was born. Perilla is an herb often used in Korean cooking and the two said it reminds them of home and family.
Through it all, Jenny's battle has continued. She relapsed in May of this year and needed another donor and transplant. But she was lucky to get it.
"For a bone marrow transplant you have to find someone with the same genetics," explained Jenny. "And for Asians and minorities the donor pool is really small, so the chances of finding a match is pretty small."
And so this is a company with a purpose. The two are also committed to donating a portion of profits and raising awareness about bone marrow donations through registry drives.
It's a new look on life.
"I just look at my kids a little bit different making sure I spend quality time with them I want to make sure I seize opportunity hanging out with them and also our company," Jenny said.