The "Eureka!" moment came in the summer of 2005, when two friends, Debbie Stephens Stauffer and Kathleen Whitehurst, were in Debbie’s kitchen in Northern California working on ideas for a new business venture. During a break, Debbie asked Kathleen to feed her infant son with baby food from a jar.
Kathleen noticed a warning on the jar label that the food should not be kept more than 3 days after opening. "So how do you know how long they've been open" she asked. Busy young mom Debbie replied: "Oh, I wish I knew – you can’t believe how much food we have to throw away because we can’t keep track." Debbie opened her fridge to reveal several half-full baby food jars that would soon be wasted.
Both instantly knew that if they could solve this problem, they'd have a product that would be valuable to people all over the world. So they pulled together a team of family, friends and experts (including Jonathan Bruck) and that led to the creation of the DaysAgo, a digital day counter that attaches to food containers and other things that need smart tracking.
A year and a half later, and after lots of moonlighting for double u products, Kathleen's adult daughter, Jamie Whitehurst, also came to work full time for the business to make the DaysAgo a success.
Today, the DaysAgo Digital Day Counter is included among kitchen gadgets and household gifts sold by Whole Foods, H-E-B, Sur La Table, and The Container Store, as well as by specialty retailers throughout the United States and Canada. The unique gadget is also available in the upscale Neiman Marcus kitchen catalog A La Carte.
About the Founder
Kathleen Whitehurst, co-inventor of the award-winning DaysAgo Digital Day Counter and President of double u products inc., has a knack for knowing what the consumer wants. Her strong instincts have resulted in a lifelong career as a successful entrepreneur.
Before starting double u products, maker of the DaysAgo, Kathleen was the co-owner and operator of the successful Kris Kringle & Co. store in Fresno, California, a boutique of upscale home dŽcor, interior accents and elegant gifts that was a mainstay of the city’s retail landscape for 25 years. In the summer of 2005, shortly after Kathleen and her husband retired to the Napa Valley, she came up with the idea for the DaysAgo with a friend, launching what is now an internationally recognized household gadget.
Originally conceived as a product that would help consumers determine how many days products have been in their refrigerator, the DaysAgo is helpful in monitoring anything in life that needs tracking, from doing household chores, to taking care of plants, to giving family members their medications. The gadget won the 2007 Good Housekeeping Good Buy Award.
Kathleen’s longstanding success in the highly competitive consumer and retail industries stems, in part, from her ability to reach out and build strong relationships with her vendors as well as her customers. She developed a keen sense of empathy early in life. The fourth of 11 children, Kathleen was the daughter of a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force, and she and her siblings frequently moved to countries around the world, following her father to his military postings. Kathleen quickly learned to adapt to her constantly changing surroundings, building a resilience that would become critical later in her life.
Kathleen moved to California for college, where she met and married Dan Whitehurst, her husband of 40 years. They relocated to Fresno after Dan finished law school and Kathleen completed her undergraduate degree. In addition to giving birth to a son and a daughter, Kathleen soon found herself leading the life of a political wife, as Dan was elected the youngest mayor of Fresno in 1977. As the mayor’s wife, Kathleen was heavily involved with community organizations and events in Fresno, and often accompanied her husband on political trips associated with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, including visits to Russia and Taiwan, as well as several events at the White House.
While Dan was in office, Kathleen opened Kris Kringle & Co. with business partner Suzanne Yengoyan. But with her success also came the hardships of some very difficult medical conditions. In 1995, Kathleen was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, after spending six months so crippled by pain that she could barely walk. She refused to give in to the disease despite several failed treatment regimens, and was finally put on an experimental drug through Stanford University Medical Center. With the help of that treatment, the lupus went into full remission.
In 1999, Kathleen heard the two words most dreaded by women: breast cancer. Her cancer treatment was severely complicated by the lupus, but after enduring a mastectomy, grueling chemotherapy, and radical reconstructive surgery, Kathleen found herself cancer-free.
Kathleen has never forgotten the support she received from friends and family during her treatment and recovery from breast cancer, in particular from her daughter Jamie, who stood by her through each stage. After Kathleen invented the DaysAgo, it was Jamie who suggested that a special Pink edition of the product be created in honor of Kathleen’s successful treatment -- and in the hope that more women will achieve similar success by using the gadget to remind them to do their self-breast exams each month. Kathleen’s company donates 10 percent of sales of the Pink DaysAgo to breast cancer awareness and research programs.
Despite still fighting to keep the symptoms of lupus at bay and being ever watchful to ensure the cancer stays in remission, Kathleen continues to be active in her community, and is passionate about using the Pink DaysAgo to support breast cancer programs.
“I am so happy that I have been able to build all these parts of my life and not be defined solely by my battles with lupus and breast cancer,” Kathleen says.