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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Because of Reece

When Andrea and her husband were pregnant with their first son, they weren't aware of the challenges that lay ahead. The plan was to eventually go back to work after the baby was born. Plans quickly changed when Reece was born with Down Syndrome. Like many unsuspecting birth parents, she and her husband grieved for quite some time after Reece's birth. The life they had envisioned for themselves and their first-born-son was turned completely upside down. Nothing would be the same. But they found resources and support. In time, Andrea found the strength to turn a challenge into a mission. Reece's Rainbow was a vision Andrea woke up with one day in early 2006.

Reece (Isn't he adorable?)

After getting involved with an orphan aid organization supporting children in Ukraine, Andrea learned what Reece's fate might have been had he born in a different country. In these countries, children who aren't born "perfect" face incredible odds. Many of those children are killed at birth. The "lucky" ones are abandoned by their families and sent to live in orphanages and and "public care" (that's the nice way to put it). Although things are slowly changing aborad as a result of the work of Reece's Rainbow, these children are mostly viewed as outcasts with no ability to learn or be functional members of society. They languish in mental institutions, hidden away from the world in shame. Some of these wonderful children do not survive because of serious medical complications...some do not survive because of lack of medical attention, lack of food, lack of LOVE. Andrea was angry and appalled and moved to action. It was impossible to sit back and not defend children like Reece in every way possible! God clearly placed Reece in her life for a special purpose, so Reece's Rainbow was born out of passion, an intense love for her child, and a calling to make a difference, one orphan at a time. It started with 5 children from Ukraine placed with loving families, and has grown to 190 placed children from 32 countries around the world finding their families. Over 200 children are still waiting, and the program grows every day.

Reece's Rainbow is a registered 501(c)3 charity which promotes and facilitates the international adoption and rescue of children with Down syndrome in particular. Reece's Rainbow serves as a VOICE OF HOPE for these children who are suffering in orphanages and mental institutions around the world, when there are literally hundreds of families here in the US, Canada, and the UK who would rescue them if only the funds were available to do so! Grant funds from individual donations make the cost of adopting these beautiful children affordable for interested families. Even $20 can make a life-saving difference.

For June's Fundraising Week, I am donating 20% of online sales of Dapper Snappers from June 28th until July 4th to Reeces Rainbow. If you don't need Dapper Snappers, I encourage you to donate to Reece's Rainbow and help make a difference. Use this ChipIn Widget to donate directly to Reece's Rainbow today!

Most of this article was taken from several pages at and "rearranged" by me.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why Voting is Important

I have once again entered into the StartupNation Home-Based 100 competition. Last year, I got an Honorable Mention, which was okay, but I want more. I want to win! To do this, I need YOU to VOTE!

What will I win? Well, according to the site:

First off, the publicity is priceless. We know that awareness and driving traffic to your business is one of the biggest challenges for any business owner. Winners of the Home-Based 100 find themselves at the center of a media storm that includes recognition on national and local TV, radio, in newspapers and magazines, and on some of the largest, most influential websites on the web, MSN and StartupNation among them.

In addition, entering your business enables you to engage your website visitors, email database and business contacts with an exciting announcement that you’re a Home-Based 100 contestant. By encouraging them to vote for you and support your quest to be a winner, you provide them with an engaging and fun way to participate in your success. This can help you create deeper loyalty and affinity, which ultimately can lead to business opportunities and increased revenue.

Lastly, being named a winner and displaying the digital winner’s emblem on your website and in your emails will not only a source of pride for you, but also adds immense credibility to your site, your brand and your business. It’s a huge achievement to be selected from among the millions of home-based businesses, and your customers will recognize and respect this immediately.

I could use all the help I can get with publicity. PR is not one of those hats I wear well. Getting noticed is hard to do in this line of work as it is. The money involved, as high as $4,000 per month, to get someone to run a PR campaign on our behalf is just not in our budget. What I can do though, is get friends, family, and fans to help us rise to the top. I can't do it alone. I NEED You! So please, vote daily.
There are 101 voting days left. That's 101 times you could help us win. And it's so easy to vote. Just go to and click on the vote now button. That's it! That's all there is to it. To make it even easier, you could sign up for the daily email reminder to vote. They won't send you anything but that daily email. All you do is VOTE and together WE WIN!
Oh please don't make me beg...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm All FIRED UP!!!

I'm so fired up right now that someone's going to have to peel me off the ceiling! As you probably already know, nothing gets me going more than customer service. If it's bad, it takes me a while to calm down and I will not be nice when I talk about what I received. But when it's good? I am in Customer Heaven. And I can tell you right now, I am indeed a very happy woman!

We came home on Sunday to find that our garage door would only open about a foot and then stop. It took us a bit, but we finally tracked down the problem: a broken torsion spring. Every time I needed to get out of the garage, I had to have my clicker in hand, press it and push up on the door at the same time to help the motor get the door up. What a pain!
I tried calling Sears, but was informed that it would cost $65 just for them to come out, inspect it, and tell me how much it would cost to fix it. $65?!? Really??? No, not worth it. So then I consulted Google: Garage Door Torsion Spring Repair Hillsboro Oregon. And to what should my wandering eyes should appear at the top of the page? American Garage Doors at my service. I saw the 5 star rating and gave them a call. I told Cory, business owner extraordinaire, about my frustrations with trying to find a part to fix it ourselves and was wondering what he charged to do the work. He was very reasonable! He eased my fears right on the phone about anything extra I could be charged for. He doesn't try to sell anyone anything they don't actually need. I love it! To top it off, he was able to come over to fix it the same day.
He was on time. I, however, was not. I had to pick up the kids so I was running a wee bit late. He called to make sure he had the right house and I explained I was going to be home in a few minutes. He was more than happy to wait. No attitude, no stress. By the time I showed up 10 minutes later, my husband was already home and Cory was hard at work.
We kept the kids inside and busy with dinner. I heard the occasional noise out there, but I figured I would let the man do his job. It didn't take him long at all. He even had to do extra work because someone had welded or soldered parts together that shouldn't have been. He helped us reprogram our remotes and change the code on the keypad. He even lubed all the hinges and rollers, and tightened the chain. All this extra work and he didn't charge us one cent over what he initially quoted over the phone.
Cory from American Garage Doors gets an A++++++++ from me for excellent customer service, outstanding quality, and incredible ethics! I know of a lot businesses that could take a clue from this guy. Overall, I am impressed!
And there you have it. I am a loyal customer for life. If anyone in the area needs garage doors, repair, parts, etc, Cory is your man. Man am I pumped! WOOOHOOOO!!!!
(really I'm not crazy...I just love great customer service)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Feel Like Such a Fool

I feel like such a fool. I am disappointed. Beyond disappointed really. Part of me thinks I shouldn't write this post because a) I will look like a fool to everyone else, b) I should have known better. You be the judge... (all names have been omitted or changed to x's to protect all involved...well except me that is.)

I couple months ago, I got on a website to help me get contact info for celebrities. My hope of course was to send Dapper Snappers to these people and either have my product spotted on their children or at least have something from them saying how wonderful they think my product is. I still haven't sent any out...ugh. Anyway... I saw the Celebrity Gifting Opportunities and thought, Hey! This could work. I send them product and for a nominal fee I get the opportunity I'm hoping for...right?

I contacted the celebrity gifting company and got caught up in the excitement of gifting an Anonymous celebrity (no, they wouldn't tell us who it was for - just adding to the suspense) who was expecting a baby boy. I did the works with customizing and quadruple checking quality of the Dapper Snappers. I sent special packaging with it and a self addressed stamped envelope with nice blank note card so they could write back those words I longed for (I just LOVE the Dapper Snappers! Thank you so much!!! etc). And I paid the not so nominal fee of $75.00 that I really couldn't afford, but I was taking a gamble. Anyone who knows me, knows I do not gamble...ever. 

The possibilities were endless. I just didn't think about the other extreme "possibilities". So imagine my disappointment today when I finally got my note back, and it was signed by some guy I'd never heard of. I looked him up and he's one step above an extra. He's not even a B-list celebrity. I feel cheated, misled, and stupid. 

What was I thinking? I won't put a quarter in a slot machine, but I give this company $75? 

I decided to write an email. I haven't sent this email yet and am not sure it would even do any good. When I started the email, I was very angry. I rewrote it until I came across as more sensible and understandably upset. Hubby said it sounds like I'm acting as an upset mom and not a business. I'm not sure it matters. They didn't make any promises other than I was guaranteed a response. I have no legal recourse. All I can do is be angry. 

Here's the email. Again, name's protected, etc. 

I received the reply today. Who is Sxxxx Txxx? I thought all the secrecy was because it was an A list celebrity. I can't use his autograph for anything. I basically wasted $75 and product for this note back to me:

Toddler Tech,
Thank you for your lovely gift.
All the best.
Scribbled autograph

That is unacceptable. I, like other product-based businesses that gift celebrities, had hopes that Dapper Snappers would be given to someone well-known, and that maybe someday their child would be spotted wearing a Dapper Snapper, thus promoting my brand, and of course all the wonderful success that follows a product spotting. I also had hoped for a better response (something I could use immediately on my press page) than "Thank you for your lovely gift." It doesn't even mention what I gave him. I am so disappointed.

No one knows who he is. I can't even find any information about his family, or any new baby boy. Your service has done nothing for me but waste my money. I feel like such a fool.

Needless to say, I won't be doing business with your company again.


So I am a fool. It was a dumb thing to do. I am going to go kick myself for a while. And maybe pout a bit. Yeah...pouting sounds good. Sigh...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another Successful Fundraiser!

Guess what? I am able to donate $108 to Dream House for Kids! That money represents 20% of the last weeks sales. Know what else it is? It's a 116% increase over last months fundraiser for! 

Thank you on behalf of Dream House for Kids! 
What's up for June you ask? All I can tell you right now is that the fundraiser will run from June 28th to July 4th. I don't have any details beyond that, but I'm working on it. 
I have lots of great things to blog about this month! See you back here soon!