How Texas Entrepreneur Katie Niemeyer Turned Tragedy Into Opportunity

When Katie Niemeyer was a teenager, she had a severe reaction to a medication she was taking and had to be rushed to the burn unit at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. There, she was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), an autoimmune disorder that causes the patient’s skin to blister to the point that they suffer from second and third degree burns. Niemeyer spent three weeks in the burn unit but fortunately survived. Unlike many, she wasn’t left blind or severely scarred. However, SJS did leave her eyes very sensitive, which she discovered when she began running after the birth of her first child. Niemeyer found that if sweat reaches her eyes, it burned so badly that she had to stop her workout. Wearing hats and sweatbands helped a little but did not completely solve the problem, so she wrapped a bandana around her hand to wipe the sweat away. When a fellow runner told her what a great idea it was, Niemeyer saw an opportunity and created Handana.

Handana is a high-performance fashionable sweatband that’s worn on the hand like a glove, allowing you to easily wipe the sweat from your forehead or neck. Whether worn on one or both hands, Handana leaves your hands completely free to do other things. Made from Supplex Lycra, it wicks away moisture and dries faster than cotton. Handana is stylish and won’t make you look like you had injured yourself, which was a slight problem Niemeyer encountered when she used to wrap a bandana around her hand. Handana comes in over 18 colors and 6 sizes for kids and adults.

For Niemeyer, Handana has become more than just a sports accessory – it’s a powerful reminder to persevere. “Take the next step… We would never accomplish any of our dreams if we thought we had to go from A to Z. Just go from A to B today,” she says.


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