Physician Assistant wants all profits to go to humanitarian work in Mexico
In the two years since taking her first Pima Community College Fashion Design class to improve her sewing technique, Physician Assistant Patricia Ferrer has established a successful clothing accessory line.
When Ferrer’s patent-pending PalmFree™ SunGloves business starts turning a profit, that money will go to renowned humanitarian Sergio Castro’s nonprofit burn and wound care clinic in Mexico’s Chiapas State.
Ferrer, who now is pursuing a Fashion Design Certificate, was inspired to create the gloves after experimenting with scrap fabric from her first Pima class, Clothing Construction I. From 16 years of work in dermatology, as well as her tennis hobby, she knows how damaging sun exposure can be.
“Over the years, I’ve tried every palm-less sun protective glove available, but found them too big, awkward and cumbersome to wear,” Ferrer said.
In 2014, as she developed the gloves idea, she did her usual volunteering with Castro in San Cristóbal de las Casas. As she had since 2008, she spent two weeks making house calls and working at his clinic. That’s when she decided to dedicate the gloves business to helping Castro.
“Sergio has prevented numerous amputations by providing wound care,” Ferrer said, noting that over 50 years Castro has built more than 30 schools and more than 25 water catchment and filtration systems in the region. “It is an honor to work alongside him and provide care to those who otherwise have no access to care.”
When she returned to Arizona, Ferrer hired Arizona Apparel Manufacturing in Green Valley to make the gloves, mustered the forces of family and friends, and took a Textiles course from Pima faculty member Nancy Spaulding.
“There was no question Nancy could not answer about the garment industry,” Ferrer said. “Her being accessible and easily approachable was nothing short of a blessing.”
Ferrer hired a Pima graphic design and marketing student to set up a website and finalize the branding that Ferrer’s nephew started. Sales from the website, plus tennis shops and retailers in Tucson, California, Florida and Texas, total nearly 1,000 pairs. Already, Ferrer has added elbow-length palmless gloves and hopes to add full-arm gloves.
Ferrer still works at Dyson Dermatology’s Green Valley office, regularly diagnosing and treating pre-cancers and skin cancers.
“Prevention is key, and I’m excited to offer a practical, comfortable and reasonably priced solution for the hands of those at risk,” Ferrer said.