Sisters Jana McDaniel and Jessica Thompson want to change the pesticide industry with their all-natural limestone pesticide.
By Shelby Woods, Photos courtesy of First Saturday Lime
Longtime farmers, the sisters founded First Saturday Lime two years ago, creating an all-natural pesticide from hydrated limestone that is strong enough to prevent pests but doesn’t burn skin, making it safe for families and pets. While the pair is from Oklahoma, they want to help women throughout the country feel safe using pesticide, including those in Austin.
McDaniel saw a need for an all-natural formula while she was a restaurant owner. She was required to treat her restaurant preventatively once a month, and the pesticide technician wasn’t required to divulge his formula. This spurred her to action; she wanted to create her own pesticide she could trust. She turned to Thompson, who had an interest in the health industry, for her co-founder.
“We would use it for ourselves, but we knew this would be a great solution for home owners or people who grow their own food,” Thompson says.
Chemical pesticides can transfer chemicals to the plants and food they are supposed to protect. McDaniel and Thompson wanted to design a pesticide that would be safe for children to play in and for pets to be near.
Since their father was a limestone manufacturer, they knew the material had been used as a pesticide in the past but that it caused burns and required a mask and gloves upon application. When they started experimenting with formulas for a safer limestone, there were no guidelines. They were pioneers in the science of limestone as a pesticide.
Eventually, the sisters were able to create an insoluble hydrated limestone, one that wouldn’t cause burns, wouldn’t contribute to respiratory issues and could be used residentially.
“People want an all-natural, nontoxic solution [to pest control],” McDaniel says. “People are looking for something else.”
Selling their product in stores proved to be the difficult task, as they noticed most of the male-operated stores seemed skeptical about what they had to offer. In their experience, the female salespeople were their cheerleaders, enthusiastic about the sisters’ product and interested in trying something new in the pesticide industry.
But both sisters agree they motivated each other to achieve their goals. McDaniel owns the business and Thompson manages it, so every time the business grows, they re-evaluate their boundaries.
“Once we started working together, you figure out a person’s skills and what their strengths are,” Thompson says. “What Jana lacks in, I make up for. For any family business, it’s good to set up boundaries for yourself and partnership.”
The two have not always been close, with Thompson being a triplet and McDaniel being the older “bossy” sister. However, they understand how important it is to protect their relationship.
“I am so thankful she is so passionate,” McDaniel says. “It’s a family business and you can’t trust anyone more than a family member you’ve trusted your whole life.”