As a Washington State University soccer player in 1990, a gimpy Spring Faussett walked into the Cougars’ athletic training room. With persistent tightness in her quadriceps hampering her performance on the pitch, Faussett pleaded with an athletic trainer for help.
“Is there anything we can do?” a hopeful Faussett inquired.
The trainer invited Faussett to sit, and then proceeded to press her thumb deep into Faussett’s quad. Faussett shrieked as pain radiated outward from the trainer’s forceful pressure—a practice now widely known as trigger point therapy. Within minutes, Faussett’s muscle tightness subsided.
“The memory of how fast muscles can be fixed stuck with me,” Faussett (’92 Comm.) says.
So much so, in fact, that Faussett transformed that idea into a global business.
In 2005, the Spokane native combined PVC pipe and insulating foam purchased from a local hardware store with bicycle grips to create a sleek rolling pin-like device athletes could use to relieve muscle knots, aches, cramping, spasms, and stiffness. Through additional iterations, Faussett, a naturally curious soul who began her WSU academic career in mechanical engineering before switching to communications and marketing, perfected the mechanics of the grip, maximized the spindle, and experimented with different foams to balance comfort and effectiveness.
Satisfied with her design, Faussett constructed 125 units and took them to the 2006 Seattle International Bicycle Expo to gather feedback and, hopefully, notch a few sales.
“I sold every single one,” Faussett beams.
With the portable foam roller massage stick as its flagship product, Tiger Tail USA was born. Faussett hustled to attend meetings and conventions for athletic trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors, and other wellness pros.
“These were people who had a bigger audience than I could ever reach by myself,” she says. “Plus, I knew they’d see the benefits.”
Soon, college and professional athletes were using the Tiger Tail massage stick. On television, Faussett would catch a baseball player holding it in the dugout or a football player working his calf on the sidelines.
When Tiger Tail reached $5,000 in monthly sales in 2008, Faussett, who made the first 20,000 massage sticks in her garage, ditched her marketing gig and committed herself fully to Tiger Tail. She developed new products like a handheld muscle “knot buster”—the aptly named Knotty Tiger—and the Tiger Ball Massage-on-a-Rope tool to attack back knots. She co-authored a book called Happy Muscles to empower do-it-yourself muscle maintenance and secured shelf space in major retail outlets like Target, REI, Costco, and CVS.
Today, the 51-year-old Faussett leads a company with more than 10 granted and pending patents, a 12,000-square-foot home facility in Kent, and routine year-over-year growth. Tiger Tail’s diverse assortment of physical therapy products, more than half of which are made in the United States, are sold in more than 50 countries, and are used by elite athletes as well as everyday people seeking improved health, flexibility, and mobility.
“Muscles talk and we listen,” Faussett says. “That’s why we’ve been able to capture 15 years of steady growth and achieve something beyond my wildest dreams.”