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Crazy Scrubs energizes hospital couture

June 25, 2012
by Paul Miller

Emergency appendectomies aren't fun. But for Sandi Richter ('81), an appendectomy in 1994 led her into a successful business enterprise that provides color and verve to uniforms worn by doctors and nurses.

An answer to blasé

Before Richter founded Crazy Scrubs, traditional surgical clothes were plain, very blue and very blasé, she says. There were no other choices at the time.

“After surgery, I told my husband I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for kids if the experience was so frightening for adults,” she says. “So in 1995, I started making fun, colorful surgical hats for doctors. That’s how my business started – at my kitchen table.

“I was a pharmaceutical rep, and I gave a surgical cap to a doctor I knew who was kind of fun. I made it out of golf balls, and he wore it. Everybody just went nuts over it.”

From hundreds to millions

Crazy Scrubs launched with a grand total of $500, and Richter put every earned dollar back into the company. For the first four years, she made all the clothes herself. Due to skyrocketing volume and demand, in 1999 she began outsourcing the manufacturing process to Southeast Asia, and now Crazy Scrubs is a solid multi-million-dollar endeavor.

The company, which has three stores in Belmar, Littleton, and Glendale and a corporate office in Englewood, is continuing to expand its online presence, which now includes some 5,000 items. A fourth store is being considered for this fall.

Innovation is a key operative ideal for the business along with one-stop shopping for medical professionals. In addition to decorative hats and matching scrubs, doctors and nurses can shop for jackets, shoes, socks, blood-pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, surgical scissors, and a wealth of accessories.

“People just want to feel good about themselves and look good,” Richter says. “I’ve always thought that if you look good, you’re going to perform better. We offer cheer – color makes people smile, and that makes a huge difference in people’s lives.”

Donations sent all over the world

Crazy Scrubs is active in charitable donations, including Haiti, Russia, the Philippines, China, India, and missions all over the world such as Doctors Without Borders.

“We’ve made baby blankets for a church group going to Africa and special stethoscopes for cancer patients,” Richter says.

Donations also have been made to Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina and to Joplin, Mo., after the tornado of 2011.

Find out more about Crazy Scrubs