My Shanghai is an Urban Family series where we ask a Shanghai-based somebody to tell us about their life.
Have you got an outbreak of nightmare parasite head lice and don't know what to do about it? Well there's now a solution in Shanghai, in the form of 'superheroes' Regina Galang and Arsheya Devitre, and their new service Lice NØ More. We caught up with Regina to find out more…
What is your background?
We are business partners who have chosen very similar paths. Both of us are American moms who have been living in China for over a decade. I moved to Chengdu from Bangkok in 2007 with Diageo and Arsheya relocated to Shanghai from Houston in 2010 with Waste Management. We met our husbands in China and each have 2 children. Prior to living in Shanghai, we worked for multinational organizations in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Egypt, Thailand, the UK and the US. We both earned MBAs and are Harvard University graduates. But forget all that! It was our mutual suffering from lice that truly cemented our friendship and drove us to become first-time entrepreneurs… while keeping our day jobs!
Regina Galang and family (photo by Lily Chen)
How did the new venture come about?
Well, we need to go back a bit. This venture would not have happened if our children did not get lice in Shanghai. It started with one kid coming home from school with lice. It was then passed onto the other sibling. We quickly discovered that Shanghai is not a lice-treatment friendly city, and while we did everything we knew to do; still the kids had it for months. It was just a matter of time until we got it. Forty-something and we had live bugs camping out and procreating on our heads. It. Was. Gross.
After about four months, the lice were finally gone, but we would be forever scarred! The frustration of dealing with them – trying every single possible solution; failing and then starting again – never went away. During drinks one evening, we confessed to having had lice and over happy hour(s), the concept of Lice NØ More!, an in-home lice removal service, was borne.
After a ton of market research and input from our community, we launched our labor of love in March, and are now here to save the day! Because quite honestly, we do feel like superheroes. We receive the cry (or WeChat add) for help to rid families of these blood sucking villains and off we go – early in the morning, late at night and all times in between – armed with our weapons to rescue our clients.
Tell us about these weapons?
We researched many different treatment methods and engaged the world’s leading experts in the lice industry: Lice Clinics of America and Lice Treatment Center. Yes, it’s its own industry. In fact, the lice treatment market is about US$3 billion in size and expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.5%.
Ultimately, we chose a process developed by the Lice Treatment Center because we felt it was the most comprehensive, safest and of course, effective. To date, the removal method we’ve adopted (that also includes follow-up care by our clients) has eradicated lice from over 250,000 families in the United States.
We won’t go into too much detail on the steps we use because they’re relatively standard in terms of applying a treatment shampoo, letting it sit and then conducting a rigorous comb-out. But we will share that we have a fully certified ‘Professional Head Lice Technician’ and we train our employees accordingly. The secret is really the combo of the shampoo plus the labor and precision of combing. The combing component can’t be underestimated and occupies the most time; potentially more than three hours depending on the length of hair and severity of the infestation.
And you are eco friendly, can you let us know a bit about that?
When it came to selecting treatment products, we were spoilt for choice. There were seemingly endless options. But once we developed screening criteria, the decision became far easier. As moms, it was important to us that we endorsed reputable, safe products made from pesticide-free and non-toxic ingredients. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with the opposite. We understand the desperation that overcomes lice stricken families and the subsequent mad dash to purchase a lice-killing agent. However, some of these solutions contain harsh chemicals that may be harmful to your young child; hence why they can’t be used on a daily basis. We caution families to read labels carefully.
Again, we turned to leaders in the industry and use environmentally-friendly treatment remedies from the Lice Clinics of America and the Lice Treatment Center. They are made from non-toxic ingredients, minimizing harm to our surroundings; are 100% safe so can be used daily for up to 7-10 days depending on the length of after-treatment care; and are reliable when tackling infestations.
And aside from the products we use and sell, we require a very basic set of tools and equipment: a small bowl of water, a lice removal comb, baking soda, olive oil and towel paper. With the exception of the nits and lice that we are happy to exterminate, we have very minimal waste.
What are the workshops you put on?
While families have been our main client base, we are also partnering with schools, most of them international. We have customized informational packets for their infected families and are a resource for them and their extended community when it comes to all things lice!
We provide workshops on ‘Lice 101’ covering a range of topics from preventative techniques, best practices in lice removal, tips to avoid re-infestation and more. Training programs for health care practitioners such as school nurses and caregivers are also in the works.
Lastly, in addition to academic institutions, we will also team up with community organizations, day cares and popular play areas giving them peace of mind that in the event of an outbreak, they have someone to call on.
Arsheya Devitre and family
Any other lice news?
Yes! In addition to helping families become lice-free, we want to eliminate the shame of having lice. We like to consider it a rite of passage and – quite honestly – a normal part of family life all over the world. Lice is extremely common and about 33% of all kids between the ages of 3 to 11 will get lice. Of those, 70% of them will pass it on to someone in their household. We both experienced that firsthand.
In over 90% of cases, lice spread through direct head-to-head contact, or what we like to call friendship! Ironically though, if people know someone has lice, they are put in social Siberia. It’s true that lice is a 4-letter word, but we don’t want it eliminated from conversations. And while lice is notoriously frustrating to treat, it is harmless and does not carry disease, so why should it be so taboo and carry the stigma that it does? We hope through our little labor of love that we get the community talking a bit more openly about lice knowing that we are here to help.
For more on Lice NØ More scan the QR code below...
[Cover image via Wikipedia]
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