Business: Happy Hands Toys
Motto: Happy Hands. Happy People. Fidgets that are fun, fashionable and functional.
What does Happy Hands Toys do?
We sell fidgets and sensory toys for kids and adults who need to fidget or stim. Whether it be anxiety, autism, sensory, or just for fun; we hope that our products are used to help people feel calm and relaxed or to help to concentrate and focus. We choose our products so that they can be used on the go, carried in a pocket, purse, or bag, and in a variety of settings such as the office or at school. Our goal is to offer affordable fidgets that don’t necessarily look like your typical toy, but that are still fun to play with are functional for a particular need.
Why did you feel that starting your own business was the answer?
We started our business pretty much out of necessity. When we realized that a lot of our son’s discomfort was stemming from his need to stim, we had a hard time finding items to help him that wouldn’t break the bank. Without knowing what would work for him, it became expensive to buy items that he ended up not using. We did some research on how to find suppliers of products and how we could offer them at reasonable prices for families like ours.
Is this a business that just employs your child or do you also employ others with autism or special needs?
Right now it’s just our family, with Andrew being the spokesperson. We have worked with influencers who are autistic and are currently contracting others with disabilities to help with our website and future writing work. We are a very new company and haven’t yet grown to the size of hiring employees but will be hiring disabled/special needs employees once we reach that point.
What are 3 challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
- Finding quality suppliers that lived up to our standards was a tough challenge. We’ve had to use trial and error mostly, but have gotten to a point where we have a trusted list of suppliers that we work with regularly.
- Advertising… Neither of us started a retail business before and advertising to our audience was a learning experience. Andy has taken a few online “classes” on how to advertise and honed in on Facebook while I’ve spearheaded our other social media accounts. Listening to the disability community and asking questions has helped us to figure out what people need so advertising became less about “how” and more about “what”. Our biggest thrill is hearing from happy customers.
- Time management…that is the biggest challenge our family faces. Right now our business is additional to our “everyday” life and as it grows it’s becoming a bigger part and needs more time (that’s a great thing). I have a full time job and Andy takes care of Andrew, homeschool, and our home, and then we share the daily business needs. We have to make sure that we take time for ourselves and each other and do “fun” things as a family. Time management can quickly get overwhelming and the hours can slip away without noticing. We haven’t overcome this challenge yet but are starting to get a handle on it. A family calendar is helping along with all of us bullet journaling to help with working smarter rather than harder.
What are 3 rewards you’ve experienced from starting a business?
The biggest reward is getting happy replies from customers!
Hearing that something we have sent has helped somebody is the best feeling in the world.
Working on our business has brought our family closer together. We all have our parts and contribute our special skills. Finally, being able to donate to people and organizations help us to feel a part of our community. We didn’t have that community connection before.
Do you have a funny story, memorable moment or great customer feedback you’d like to share?
Our most memorable customer, Owen, is a teen with Down syndrome and ADHD. He wanted a fidget spinner but he has small hands and the average spinner was too big to use. His mom contacted us to let us know that she found a spinner on our site that was small enough for him to use and she was really excited because, for Owen, having that spinner meant he “fit in” at school. After hearing this, we wanted Owen to have options, so we worked with his mom to get measurements and sent him a bunch of spinners that he could use. She reported back that he was so happy to have a collection of spinners to use regularly.
Tell us about any upcoming plans, new releases or exciting news!
Right now, since we are in such an early stage of our company everything is exciting and new!
We are still researching new products and are looking forward to working with more disabled influencers. Also, we are hoping to do some great sales and giveaways for the holiday season.
What message would you like to give to other families who are searching for job opportunities for their autistic loved one?
Listen to autistic people. You will learn everything you need to know from the people who experience autism.
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