Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Very Special Dapper Snapper

It was the strangest thing… I was reading through tweets one day and came across this from Krista Colvin (@KristaColvin)

Now, normally I wouldn’t click on links because I don’t have a lot of time. I’m so easily distracted that I literally have 19 tabs open in 2 different browsers. I even downloaded a third browser “just in case”. Anyway, back to the point…

It seemed like an interesting post, but it didn’t make much sense to me. Why was she losing her hair? Well, then of course I had to snoop around. I don’t know if you can actually “snoop” on a blog, since it’s posted there for the world to read.

The chemo post ( seemed so surreal, but she really took all the scare out of it. Although I truly hope to never have to endure it. And then I scrolled up to the top link: The Details ( How is it possible that I could have had so many misconceptions about Breast Cancer? The next thing that struck me was that Krista must be the strongest woman I know. It takes incredible strength and determination to look at this monster and decide to put her “Big Girl Panties On” and fight.

She doesn’t know that she’s one of the many reasons for this month’s fundraiser, but she is the inspiration for it. Another reason is that it is May, when we spend the first half or so of the month trying to figure out what we want to do for our moms. But probably the biggest reason is that I miss my mom so much. I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer just after my 13th birthday, when a girl needs her mom the most. I suppose right now is when I need her the most really. My kids, Super Dude (5) and the Bug (3) are growing up so fast. All the things she’s already missed out on and all the things to come. It’s mother’s day, and all I really want to do is have her here with me. My heart aches…

Cancer is a bastard. I hate it. I know they can’t do much about pancreatic cancer because by the time symptoms show up it’s already too late. I think that Patrick Swayze did an admirable job of trying to fight it. But breast cancer, that they can fight…and win. I found out that breast cancer strikes hundreds of thousands of women each year (and yes, even some men), and that women young and old, rich and poor, with and without children, whether or not they breastfed, get diagnosed with it. It’s the number one cancer that women get.

So with that, in honor of Krista, my mom, all our mothers, our sisters, our friends, I’ve made a special Breast Cancer Dapper Snapper for sale on our Toddler Tech USA ( web store. For each of these special Dapper Snappers sold during the month of May, $5 will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. These Breast Cancer Dapper Snappers have Pink bands with Ribbon embossed Frosted Copper caps and Silver components.

Pssst! Did you know that women have been using Dapper Snappers on their own pants? They wear them on their sides to help close that obnoxious gap in the back of their pants. So they’re not just for toddlers anymore!

So help make a difference with me. Buy a Breast Cancer Dapper Snapper.

PS. While I was writing this, 2 other twitter friends tweeted these:

Genuine (@Genuine)

FireMom (@FireMom)

We've got to fight back!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Amongst the Great Ideas: Lend 4 Health

This month's fundraiser is for Lend 4 Health. Read on and you will see why this is such a great idea and you can help...

Julian (Courtesy of Lend4Health)

Julian was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with autism. He was spinning the wheels of his cars non-stop, had terrible eczema, wasn't speaking, and wouldn't look when his parents called his name. "I didn’t want to believe this was it," said his mom Rachel from Texas. "I mean, here is my Julian. I thought maybe he’s just a genius and is just interested in finding out how things work? Maybe he just doesn’t like being around lots of people or kids, he’d just rather play alone. I mean don’t kids play alone sometimes?" When he was 3 years old, his parents enrolled him in an Early Childhood Program at the local elementary school. At this point, he was still non-verbal and would only make sounds with constant echolalia. He had limited or no eye contact, bouts of vomiting and loose stools, and would wake up a lot during the night.

Rachel did some research and learned about the
biomedical approach to treating autism. She started Julian on a gluten-free/casein-free (GFCF) diet, and she gave him some vitamin supplements, as well as a calcium supplement. "Slowly," said Rachel, "all of that stopped." Julian's eye contact improved, his language came in, and he just kept getting better. At that point, Rachel looked into making an appointment with a DAN! [Defeat Autism Now!] doctor to see what else they could do for Julian, but their insurance wouldn't cover it, and the cost was prohibitive.

Rachel's husband is in the Air Force, and they were soon stationed overseas in the United Kingdom. Soon thereafter, her husband was sent to Afghanistan, and Rachel was left to fend for herself in a new country, with an autistic son, another 1 1/2 year old son, and a husband in a war zone. Rachel made a goal for herself for the next 4 months that her husband would be gone: "My goal is to get Julian to a DAN! Dr. here overseas to help us through this journey to recovery."

Rachel found
The Autism Clinic in the UK and heard good things about it and Dr. Tommey. An initial consult was $380, and a follow-up was $91 -- none of it was covered by their insurance. And while $471 wasn't a huge sum of money, it was more than she had at the moment. What to do?

Rachel turned to
Lend4Health, a new website that facilitated interest-free "micro-loans" for biomedical autism treatment. Julian and his story were posted on the site, and two weeks later, her loan had been funded. Seventeen people had come together online to contribute to her $471 loan request. One lender was Matt, who follows Lend4Health on Twitter but didn't know Julian or anything about autism. He loaned Rachel $10. Rachel's relative James lent $100. Other relatives, friends, and strangers made loans of $11, $20, and $40. When Rachel called her husband in Afghanistan to give him the good news, he couldn't believe it. "Strangers that we don’t know loaned us money for Julian?" he said. "That’s amazing!” (Although we would say his courageous service in Afghanistan for us -- strangers -- is just as amazing!)

Two weeks later, Rachel had her first appointment at The Autism Clinic, with money in hand from those 17 people who had read her story online and wanted to help. Julian was started on a treatment plan overseen by Dr. Tommey, and Rachel finally had some direction and some hope. She started paying the loan back, interest-free, at $26.16 a month. Sometimes she had extra and would pay back more. A few months later, she had fully repaid her $471 loan to Lend4Health, and all of her 17 lenders got their money back. Many of these lenders then re-loaned their money to another family on Lend4Health.

This past Spring, Rachel's husband came back from Afghanistan, safe. She wrote to her lenders, "Julian is doing great so far on his supplements/vitamins. I see lots of changes happening and all are good. My husband has seen changes physically in Julian too, like no more dark circles under the eyes, speech improvement with lots of new language and sentences he’s using on his own, and he’s so much more social. Really too many things to list in the 4 months he was away, so it’s been good! Your support means so much more than you know. We are forever grateful!! We will continue to keep everyone posted on his progress. Our family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts!!"

Julian (right) with Mom and little brother the day Daddy came home from Afghanistan.

Lend4Health was founded in June 2008 by Tori Tuncan, a mother of two, including one diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, living in the Washington, DC, area. Inspired by the online microlending site, Lend4Health facilitates community-funded, interest-free microloans for optimal health. Currently, Lend4Health is covering loans for the biomedical treatment of children and adults with autism spectrum and related disorders. Other health issues may be covered on Lend4Health in the future.

As of this writing, there are three open loans on Lend4Health for 3 year old
Lil' Joe from California, 6 year old Ashleigh from Texas, and 4 year old Will from Canada. To date, 55 loans totaling more than $34,000 have been funded on Lend4Health. Twenty loans have been fully repaid, with more than $8,700 sent back to the lenders. No loans have defaulted.

Lil' Joe's ChipIn:

Ashleigh's ChipIn:

Will's ChipIn:

ChipIn to Help Cover Lend4Health Admin Costs (May 2009 PayPal Fees):

20% of online sales of Dapper Snappers from 7/26 through 8/1 will be donated to help cover administration fees. Yes, I am aware my donation is not tax deductible. But I believe in what she is trying to do. So you don't have to donate permanently. You could just Lend 4 Health. It doesn't take much to help in a big way. If you don't need Dapper Snappers, please consider a loan. You can't beat the results!

This article was provided by Lend4Health because my muse is out of town on vacation or something and my ability to put a couple sentences together is severely diminished.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Got Quoted!

As you know, I'm signed up to receive HARO emails (Get Sourced, Get Quoted, Get Famous!). For the first time, and after many many pitches, I have finally succeeded in getting quoted! Check out this article on The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (TPE) about Mom Entrepreneurs. My advice is #64, right next to my happy face.
Now, this won't make me famous by any means, but at least I know HARO works. I've experienced it for myself. I won't be famous until I become known as "That woman who was on Oprah that made those elastic thingies for little kids' pants. You know who I'm talking about...". In the meantime, I will work my little fingers to the bone, burn myself on the iron (which is what I did last night and now have a blister thank-you-very-much), and see the chiropractor every week because I was sitting cross-legged while quality checking Dapper Snappers which I should know better because "How many times do I have to tell you it's bad on your back Michelle? Now why don't you listen to me for once?" Yes Dr. D...I'm on my way in...again...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Something to Offer?

I don't write a lot, as you can probably tell. Most of the time I just don't have anything I think anyone would be interested in reading. Part of the problem is that I've always viewed blogs as an online diary. As I have found in the past year, blogs can be whatever people want, but the popular one's often give valuable advice or perspectives. I'm not sure that I have either. So then I pose the question to you and to myself; Do I have something to offer? I have plenty of opinions, however uneducated they may be. Does that constitute an offering worth anyone's time?
Then there are the questions; Will my post offend anyone? Will I look like and idiot? Will I miss something in my research and have the embarrassment of having someone else point it out publicly? Will anyone read this? I know. I worry too much about things that don't matter. Or maybe they do? If I spend all my time second guessing myself until I talk myself out of a post. I don't hold anything back on my personal blog, but this is my business blog. This is where I have to tread lightly. Or is treading lightly that which is holding me back from success?
So I don't write much. But I have a lot to say, just read my tweets! Or follow me on Facebook. Of course, most of that is 140 characters or less of nothing of real importance. Sometimes it's important...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Freedom to Choose

July is Freedom to Choose month here at Toddler Tech USA! What's that mean? Well, I've had a lot of people ask if there was any way they could buy 3 Dapper Snappers and pay the 3 pack price, a $2.90 savings. There is also the occasional request for 6 Dapper Snappers for the 6 pack price, a $13.75 savings(!). Well, for a limited time, you can. In the spirit of July and our independence, I am giving you the freedom to choose your colors and get the same great deal! From now until July 31st:

Use coupon code 07Freedom3 to get 3 Single Dapper Snappers for the same price as a 3 pack. Use coupon code 07Freedom6 to get 6 Single Dapper Snappers for the same price as a 6 pack.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why a Monthly Fundraiser?

Why a monthly fundraiser? I get that question a lot. Here's the deal...

On June 28th of 2008, I started selling Dapper Snappers online. This is what I've considered to be the start date of my business. What started out as a "Hey...maybe people will buy these things?" quickly turned into a full fledged business.
The more the word got out, the more comments I would get about them. But the emails that touched me the most were about the impact I didn't know I had. Parents of special needs children would write to tell me how happy they are that their child has one less thing to worry about thanks to Dapper Snappers. And every time I would get one of those emails, I would get goosebumps head to toe and start to tear up.
A couple months ago, I was at a fundraiser for, a charity that provides micro-loans to Kenyan women to start their own businesses. It was then I decided to donate 20% of the online sales for the last week of that month. Last month, I received one of those emails that made me cry and decided to write a post about Laura Kate and donate 20% of the online sales for the last week to, a charity that helps medically fragile children find their forever homes. I figured out a way to reach a lot of people and raise awareness about the charity. Sales went better than average, so my donation was up 116% over the previous month.
I didn't realize that there were so many other small charities out there, because they don't get the attention that the bigger charities get. They don't get the government funding to be able to afford advertising, or staff to help out. They are mostly volunteers just trying to help those that need it. With that realization came a new personal, and business, mission. I don't have much, but I will do what I can.
So on June 28th, on my 1 year business anniversary, until July 4th, I will be running a fundraiser for Reece's Rainbow. Andrea, the founder, works tirelessly to help children with Down's Syndrome born in other countries that were dumped off at orphanages because they weren't perfect. She matches these children with parents here and helps them through the adoption process. So far, she's been able to find homes for 190 children with Down Syndrome or other special needs. But there are so many more that need our help or they will die from medical neglect.

I don't know about you, but I can't ignore everything around me. Spreading the word about these charities is one way to help them get donations. And it's so easy.

So then I ask you: Will you help? Will you spread the word on Facebook and Twitter (or whatever form of social media you use)? I'm only asking for one tweet or comment or post a month. It really isn't that much, but it can make a big difference. So will you do it? For them?

And lastly, to answer the question "why"?
Doing monthly fundraisers has been challenging, exciting, and gratifying. It's a lot of work but it is so worth it. I feel so blessed that I can help out this way. And it makes my heart feel good...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Toddler Tech USA!!!

My business, Toddler Tech USA, is 1 year old today!

One year ago today, I started selling Dapper Snappers online and it's been a roller coaster ride ever since. I've always said that this business is my 3rd child. It really is just like having a baby; keeps me up late at night, demands constant attention, makes me worry incessantly... In the past year I have made some amazing friends. I'ver learned what it takes to run your own business. I've learned that I didn't know anything about business. I made some more amazing friends. I've become a multitasking multi-hat-wearer. I've made good choices and bad. I made a commitment to customer service, customer loyalty and product quality. I've become quite the social media addict pro utilizing Twitter, Facebook, and my blog to spread the word about Dapper Snappers and Fundraising efforts for small charities. I've laughed, cried, and got goose-bumps head to toe. I've been scared of loosing everything and I've tried to win it all.
So what now? Well, I lost 50 lbs (11 to go), which is sort of business related since my big goal is to get skinny and get on Oprah. I'm trying to win it all again (Never give up! Never surrender! -Commander Peter Quincy Taggart - Galaxy Quest) and this time I may have a chance at it if I can get everyone to vote every day for the next 94 days. Most of the manufacturing has been moved to Little Buttercups, a local sewing contractor, so I can focus on other areas of the business that have been neglected. We've hired patent attorneys to help us get our patent though. We've gotten 2 new sales reps; Stacey of Giddy Up Kids and Elisa of The Treehouse Showroom, and are looking for more. Our goal this year is to have a store in every state selling Dapper Snappers. This next year promises to be amazing!

It may be Toddler Tech USA's birthday, but I want to give you a present. Here's a coupon code for But 2 Get 1 FREE: Happy1year

Happy Bizaversary! Here's to many many more.