June 2011 cover SCAN"St. Catherine University St. Catherine University
February 2011
 
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Lady vs. The Bugs

Alumna entrepreneur tells lice to bug off — naturally.

Rachel Schlotzhauer Knutson '95 always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

"Every year for Halloween I dressed up as a nurse," she laughs. "It was a little pathetic, but it was what I wanted to be. I was certain about it."

Knutson was so certain about her ambitions that immediately after high school she enrolled in the University of Minnesota's School of Nursing. But after just one year, she felt lost.

"The classes were so big," Knutson recalls. "I felt like I was more a number than a person. I decided to check out St. Kate's. Right away I felt a connection. I was absolutely thrilled. This was the personal education I needed, the ideal match. I like to say it was God's perfect plan."

It also turned out to be a perfect plan last year when Knutson's daughter came home from school with a case of head lice.

"I freaked out," she admits. "It was awful. We were leaving for vacation the next day." But the stressful event morphed into a teachable moment for Knutson, whose late-night research into nontoxic lice treatments eventually became the foundation of Ladibugs Inc., her booming
lice-treatment service.

Knutson developed the idea for the company with her friend and fellow RN Lisa Rudquist. After watching many other families struggle with head lice — including messy, smelly treatments, not to mention the embarrassment — the duo cooked up the idea of a company that offered an organic remedies. The business took off quickly.

Since incorporating Ladibugs in May 2010, Knutson and Rudquist have hired three employees. They've launched a line of lice treatment products (available at Kids' Hair salons in Apple Valley, Edina and St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood) and leased storefront space in
St. Louis Park for Minnesota's first fullservice lice-treatment "salon." They are also planning to open satellite branches in Duluth, Mankato, Rochester and Iowa.

When she's not busy de-lousing, Knutson works part time as the emergency department trauma coordinator at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee. She credits St. Catherine for infusing her with the moxie needed to start her own business.

"St. Kate's really stressed that self-confidence piece," she says. "I graduated feeling like I had what it takes to tackle even the toughest problems."

Look out, lice: There's a Katie on the case.

— Andy Steiner

 
From the Heart


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Bye-Bye Bugs: As part of her Ladibugs treatment, Rachel Schlotzhauer Knutson '95 uses the LouseBuster, a pesticide-free device that uses heated air to kill lice eggs and live lice. "There's nothing shameful about getting lice," she says. "It happens to everyone."

PHOTO BY RICHARD FLEISCHMAN