Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meet Laura Kate

IMAGINE...being a child trapped by life's circumstances.

IMAGINE...needs so complex someone else must care for you.

IMAGINE...living for years in a hospital room or adult nursing home because your family abandoned you.

IMAGINE...being a child forced to stay in a neglectful, abusive home simply because there is no other place to go.

On May 5th, 2005, Laura Kate, a 21 week gestation preemie was born at one pound nine ounces. She was in the hospital for her first three months, barely clinging to life. She had a hole in her heart, extreme low birth weight, acid reflux that caused severe sleep apnea, was on oxygen, and supplemental tube feeding. Because she was removed from her biological parents at birth, Laura Kate was placed in the state's custody (Welfare, Social Services...they call it DFACS -Department of Family and Children's Services- in Georgia). At three months of age she came to Dream House for Kids for what is called End of Days Care. Dream House is a children's charity in Georgia that teaches families and communities how to help kids with complex health conditions thrive at home. They take in and care for medically fragile children. They give hope. And they give loving childhoods for however long they last. Everyone knew Laura Kate was going to die, but Dream House was going to hold her and love her for as long as they could.

The sleep apnea caused Laura Kate "flat line" for brief periods until she could be resuscitated and brought back to life. She wore a monitor that would beep when she stopped breathing. It beeped so frequently that she had to be hospitalized and have a surgery to fix her reflux problem. She went through Open Heart Surgery to repair the hole. Then there was the removal of her tonsils and adenoids, and tubes put in her ears. She even had an emergency surgery to fix a bowel blockage. Laura Kate was still on oxygen 24/7 and the Doctors had said she would have to be on it for an indefinite period, but she wasn't. She got better, and kept getting better.

After almost a year at Dream House it was agreed that this tiny little girl was going to be around for a while and needed a permanent home. Laura Kate was adopted by Kelly Coker, a stay at home mom and pediatric nurse, and her husband Todd. Terry Walls, one of Laura Kate's caregivers at Dream House from the time she came to them from the hospital, rocked and fell so hard for Laura Kate that the adoptive parents adopted her too. On January 1, 2009 they celebrated one full year hospitalization free.

Laura Kate at 1 year old with mom Kelly,

and siblings Caroline, Grant, and Grayson

This month Laura Kate turned four. She loves tv too much and watches Dora and Little Einsteins over and over again. Swinging is an addiction and you cannot push her high enough. She just shuts and eyes and "flies". She loves tea parties and baby dolls and trucks. She is a flirt and a charmer. Everything is done with much expression and giggles. With the exception of being below weight for the pediatric charts, Laura Kate is one fine and sassy little girl. She just made the height chart for the very first time. She is in the bottom 2% but this is the first growth chart she has ever made and her family is thrilled.

Laura Kate, age 4

With her height and slim body comes the clothing problem. Getting clothes long enough for her always require taking in. Belts were working but then came potty training a very independent girl and belts just caused more issues. Terry went online and asked Google for "Toddler Adjustable Belts" and found Dapper Snappers. As a long time volunteer with a Dream House, Terry is a first-hand witness to medical issues that cause kids never really fit into sizes and lengths properly. She knows that Laura Kate, and many of the other kids the Dream House cares for, are very independent and cannot tolerate being helped with a belt. Now she has Dapper Snappers and pants just go up and down so easy, and the pants stay up and never fall down. She now has one less thing to worry about in a long line of obstacles she's faced.

Laura Kate's growing, thriving, and surviving against all the odds she faced as a preemie and all because of the wonderful people at Dream House for kids. What an amazing organization!


As the Mompreneur responsible for inventing and manufacturing Dapper Snappers, I can't begin to tell you how deeply I am touched by Laura Kate's story. An impossibly tiny baby, fighting against all odds to survive, left in the care of strangers to die. But these strangers gave her the love she needed. These strangers are true miracle workers. They have the kind of heart it takes to give of their time to care for those who've been given up on. Can you imagine being one of those children? I can't. It just breaks my heart. I am trying to hold back my tears, very unsuccessfully, just thinking about it.

I was so moved by the Dream House for Kids organization, and all that they stand for, that I donated 50 Dapper Snappers and will donate 20% of online sales for the week of May 24-31. I wish I could do more, but mine is a very small business and funds are tight. But maybe you can help. If you don't need Dapper Snappers, you could donate directly to Dream House for Kids. Please be sure to write in the comments "On behalf of Laura Kate and Dapper Snappers" so they know that we sent you. Donate today and help save lives!

(Portions of this post were taken from http://www.dreamhouseforkids.org)

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Had the Strangest Dream

I work all the time. I am constantly working on new ways to promote Dapper Snappers, getting new customers, and keeping existing customers happy. It's no wonder then why I dreamt what I did last night. I was at Peter Shankman's home enjoying a very casual meeting. If you don't know Peter of HARO (Help A Reporter Out), you are missing out. He's taken an idea, helping reporters find sources for stories, and turned it into an incredible business. He now has 100,000 members and speaks at engagements around the world about PR. I had written him once about advertising costs for HARO and let's just say it's way out of my range. 

So back to the dream... As I was saying, I was at his home just chit-chatting about business. He asked me, "What do small businesses (like yours) need?" "Free stuff!" I replied. For some reason this struck Peter as incredibly funny. Then I explained to him that we (small business owners) know we won't get anything for free. This is the nature of any business. There is a price for everything, even if it's not money and not apparent. But how do we get out from under the rock we don't want to hide under? We spent a while in quiet contemplation while people filtered past making comments to Peter about meetings, phone calls, and speaking gigs. 
It was then I told him what I wanted. I want to get skinny (39.5 lbs down, 16.5 lbs to my goal!) and get on Oprah. It's either her or Ellen. (I just realized while writing this that I want to be on Oprah and Ellen showcasing Dapper Snappers, what it takes to be an inventor and a Mamapreneur. But I would be happy if I could even get local coverage just for Dapper Snappers.) I told him that if I could do that, then we would finally have enough capital to start working on our other inventions. Then we could start helping other aspiring Mamapreneurs find their success. I then said something clever to make him think (not sure what it was). We parted ways without a plan, but with an understanding. Funny thing about dreams; You don't always get to remember all the answers. He was happy to help me where he could, when he could, and would keep in touch.
It wasn't until I woke up that I understood why I couldn't advertise with HARO. I want Dapper Snappers to be discovered and be famous. All this time I thought that if I explained that what I wanted advertised was for people to help me with my personal/business mission (because if the woman who invented Jibbitz could get on Oprah, why can't I?) and to get more USA product reps, then that might push Dapper Snappers to the next level. Here's the problem; I would attract the wrong people. Instead of generous people just wanting to help because it would be the nice thing to do, I would get PR consultants that "for a small fee" that I couldn't afford, they could help get me, and/or my product, the media attention I/it deserves. Because NOTHING is FREE. I wouldn't get any product reps either, at least not professional ones. It really couldn't end up in anything but disaster.
What am I going to do now? Keep doing what I can afford to do. I throw out my pitches and hope that one of them sticks. I keep writing to news stations, talk shows, whoever will listen, and tell them about me, and about Dapper Snappers and why they are so great. And if anyone out there wants to help me with my big goal, I will appreciate it immensely. I can't afford to pay them, but I could put them in my Thank You credits. 
Oh, and Peter... Thanks. I had been kicking around this idea of advertising for months. Now I understand I'm looking for easy answers where there aren't any. Sometimes discoveries happen. I'm going to keep combing the HARO emails for opportunities to "Get Sourced. Get Quoted. Get Famous." but I won't hold my breath. I'm going to keep working at it. But Peter, if you are so inclined and happen to know someone who is feeling particularly philanthropic...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Say It With Me...

On Saturday, the day before Mother's day, we went on a family bike ride. It was wonderful. It was relaxing...until my husband did something to turn the ride from bike to roller coaster (for me at least). You see, my son is 4 and he's been struggling with us about his training wheels. We want them off, he wants to keep them on. We compromised by putting them up high enough that the only time the they touch the ground is when he turns. But the time had come for a change. Every time he leaned one way or the other the training wheel on that side would grab and the handles would yank him, making him turn unexpectedly. My husband had seen enough and talked Super Dude out of his training wheels with the promise of helping him keep stable by guiding him by the seat. That lasted all of 2 seconds. Next thing I know, Super Dude is halfway down the street all on his own. I clapped and yelled "Good Job!!!" as he headed back towards us. I've never been so proud of and so scared for him at the same time. I was tremendously proud when he crawled at 6 months. I was ecstatic when he walked at 8 1/2 months. But now he's on his own. I can't hold his hand as he tries to steady himself. I can't catch him when he falls down. I don't think I've ever been so terrified as I was following him down the slight hill home. Terrified of him falling down and hurting himself on his first day and never wanting to try again. Mostly terrified of letting him grow up.

Now as I sit in my garage working, watching him circling our cul-de-sac as fast as he can, I begin to draw parallels to my business. At what point to I let go? When do I start delegating and trusting others that they can do it right? I know I will still have that feeling in the pit of my stomach with all the "what ifs" but don't I have to take off the training wheels at some point?Isn't that the whole point? So in an effort to move forward, I am turning over production of Dapper Snappers to a manufacturer (in the USA of course) so I can focus on other parts of the business that are starving for attention. Since I've been unsuccessful in cloning myself, I've got to go with the obvious; get help. My business can't grow, can't thrive, unless I take those training wheels off. I can't lie, I'm terrified. But I can't let my fears of the unknown stunt my growth. 
Look Ma! No training wheels! Let's leave the "no hands" for a later date... Say it with me, "Everything will be Okay"

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Buzzzzz

Okay, I'm doing an unsolicited product review for 3 items I use everyday and love. Since they are big companies, I am pretty sure they won't even notice, but that's fine by me. I am just feeling the need to share my happiness with products that do what they say they are supposed to. And I believe these would make good Mother's Day gifts. (Hubby, you are going to have to find me something else, because I already have these)

I have perpetually dry hands and feet. It seems that ever since having my daughter, my knuckles look like worn out leather. What happened to my beautiful hands??? Hormones! Those bastards! Well I have tried all kinds of things. Every lotion seemed to cause some allergic reaction where my skin would get bumpy, red, and severely itchy to the point of having to take Benadryl. Even the lotions for sensitive skin caused irritation. I've been on a search for a long, long, expensive time. 

But Hallelujah! My search is over! Burt's Bees Shea Butter Hand Repair Creme to the rescue! Now, my husband lovingly calls it "Hippy Stank" (no offense to Hippies or Burt's Bees) because it contains natural, earthy smelling ingredients that make a perfect scent to induce relaxation. And best of all? The skin on my hands is soft and not red or bumpy or anything! So if it wasn't enough for Burt's Bees to break me of my Carmex addiction with the awesome-est lip balm on the planet, but now they own my hands too. 
As for my feet? They are thoroughly owned by the Ped Egg and Aveda Foot Relief. I cannot rave enough about the Ped Egg. My feet have never been so smooth! It's amazing and I can never live without it ever ever again. It's so easy to use. 
Aveda Foot Relief smells good and doesn't leave my feet greasy (I have a thing about sliminess between my toes...ewww). They also have a great hand lotion I use during the day between hand washings (because I only use Hippy Stank at night) called Aveda Hand Relief.

So those are my recommendations. I'm a mom and I love these products. (Hubby, I could use a massage...yes another one...)