Nurses who are creative, curious, and passionate about expanding their nursing careers often find a nursing business to be an ideal path for them. These nurses, also known as “nursepreneurs,” provide exceptional patient care and are natural innovators and problem-solvers, bringing innovation to the nursing profession. As role models and mentors, nursepreneurs inspire other nursing professionals to explore entrepreneurial endeavors, driving positive change in nursing.nurses-side-gig-swoop

Virginia Lynn Peterson, the nurse inventor and founder of SWOOP bras, is an innovator and problem-solver for nurses. With 15 years of nursing experience, Peterson understands the struggles faced by healthcare professionals, especially the discomfort of wearing a less-than-ideal bra during long 12-hour shifts in the emergency department.

Peterson crafted a solution: an innovative line of bras and loungewear tailored for healthcare workers and active women. The line prioritizes comfort so nurses can focus on their work.

What started as a personal venture has evolved into a successful business. SWOOP’s mission is to support heroes by providing the finest undergarments and loungewear tailored to meet the unique demands of long shifts.

SWOOP’s product range now includes matching underwear, shorts, pants, and ultra-soft, cozy tunics for busy, active women everywhere.

Peterson shares insights into her journey of creating SWOOP. Below is an interview, edited for length and clarity.

nurses-side-gig-swoop

Virginia Lynn Peterson, the nurse inventor and founder of SWOOP bras.

How did you come up with the idea for SWOOP Bras?

Having endured the discomfort of wearing unsupportive bras during lengthy shifts as an emergency room nurse, I identified a market gap for undergarments that seamlessly blend functionality, comfort, and style. Drawing from personal experiences and frustrations, I embarked on a mission to develop a solution – thus, SWOOP was conceived!

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Why did you decide to start your side gig?

As an emergency room nurse, I recognized firsthand the significance of comfortable undergarments for individuals in demanding professions. Seeing an opportunity to address this need while pursuing my passion for design, I launched SWOOP as a side venture to cater to fellow healthcare workers and active women.

When did you start SWOOP, and how did you go about it?

SWOOP Bras took flight in 2020! Armed with my nursing know-how, I started by crafting bras solo, using the trusty sewing machine my mom gifted me at age 12. But as demand soared, I traded for a sleeker, fancier machine! With a blend of comfort, support, and one-of-a-kind style, I breathed life into my vision and unleashed the brand onto the world. And guess what? We still manufacture in Alaska and beyond – because some things are too good to change!

What product was first? How did you create a product line?

Our inaugural product at SWOOP was our signature bra, meticulously designed for all-day comfort and support. As demand surged and customers expressed interest in additional offerings, I expanded our product range to encompass underwear, loungewear, shorts, pants, and tunics – all crafted with the same commitment to quality and functionality. Notably, our tunics and bras remain our best-sellers.

Have you worked in consumer retail goods before you began SWOOP?

No, I hadn’t. Much of my journey has involved learning on the fly, supplemented by invaluable guidance from mentors and resources such as the small business development center and MEP.

How did you know there was a need for SWOOP Bras?

Ah, let me share the tale of Buffy! What a memorable name. So, Buffy swooped in and ordered a single bra. Fast forward three weeks, and bam! She’s back, this time snagging four more! I never even met Buffy, but that moment marked a turning point. That’s when my small business stopped being just a side hustle and turned into something bigger, something electric! It’s a pivotal moment that still gives me goosebumps.

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What do you do now with SWOOP?

Right now, it’s all hands on deck! Our mighty crew of five handles everything – from production to marketing to shipping out orders. It’s a juggling act sometimes, but we’re a tight-knit bunch. We work hard, lift each other up, and always find time to share a laugh or two along the way.

Do you have previous entrepreneurial experience, or have you learned on the go?

My journey with SWOOP has primarily entailed on-the-job learning fueled by passion and dedication. Although lacking prior entrepreneurial experience, my nursing background equipped me with invaluable multitasking skills that have proven beneficial. I am sure any nurse can relate to that!

What do you enjoy most about your side gig?

Oh, the joy of running SWOOP! Seeing our real impact on healthcare heroes and active women’s lives has been incredibly fulfilling. When customers reach out with glowing reviews expressing newfound comfort and confidence in their SWOOP Bras, it’s like music to our ears! Plus, what about our community’s passion for women’s empowerment through our photos? Simply astounding! We aim to make every wearer feel like they’ve just stepped off the runway—an “off-duty bra model” in our fabulous products.

What are some of the challenges of being a woman-owned business?

As a proud woman-owned business, SWOOP has tackled its fair share of hurdles, especially in industries dominated by men who may not grasp the nuances of undergarments. Some find the topic uncomfortable, even embarrassing. Yet, in a world where men hold sway in various realms, we persist in our mission to educate and inspire them to overcome their discomfort. After all, there’s no reason to shy away from discussing something as fundamental as comfort and support!

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What are the most significant rewards of having a nursing side gig?

The most fulfilling aspect for me has been transforming my passion into a purpose-driven business that positively changes people’s lives. Witnessing SWOOP evolve from a side project into a flourishing brand has been immensely gratifying and motivating. Entrepreneurship wasn’t originally on my radar, but I’m genuinely grateful for the myriad of blessings it has brought into my life!

Where can nurses buy SWOOP products?

Nurses can conveniently purchase SWOOP Bras online at wearswoop.com, and we actively engage with our nursing community through social media and events to raise awareness.

What’s next for SWOOP Bras?

SWOOP aims to expand its product offerings and outreach to serve a broader audience of healthcare workers and active women. I’m passionate about exploring innovative ventures and partnerships that align with our comfort, support, and empowerment mission.

What would you say to someone considering starting their side gig?

To aspiring entrepreneurs contemplating their side gig, I encourage you to follow your passion, persevere in the face of challenges, and seek support from fellow entrepreneurs. Embrace the journey, stay true to your vision, and never underestimate the impact of your ideas and dedication.

Is there anything else you want readers to know?

SWOOP Bras transcends mere lingerie – it symbolizes empowerment, comfort, and confidence for women across all spheres of life. Through SWOOP, I aspire to redefine women’s everyday comfort and support, one bra at a time.

Renee Hewitt
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