While it can be super cute when they’re babies, thumb sucking can become an issue as your child gets older. Andrea Van Ness created Thumbuddy to Love, a product designed to help kids give up thumb sucking gradually—and for good. Here’s her story:
What were you doing prior to launching Thumbuddy To Love?
I was leading treks in Nepal and Tibet. I had my own tour company and took groups hiking in the Himalayas.
What were the steps that you took to launch your business?
I started by writing the children books that make up the Thumbuddy To Love line. I hired an illustrator and we created the characters for the thumb puppets. We needed to start small so we created a small batch and showed it to dentists who gave me more tips on how to help children stop thumb sucking.
What were some high points (and set backs) that you faced along the way?
The set backs were getting prototypes made because I had to contact a few different companies in different countries and it was hard to relay what I was trying to achieve. The high points were receiving several awards for the Thumbuddy To Love products and receiving letters from parents telling me that their child really identified with the characters the book and were able to stop thumb sucking.
What was the first year like?
The first year was hard because I needed to put my energy into marketing, internet marketing, blogging and dental sales so I was going into all directions at once and learning along the way. But the feedback was strong and that kept me going!
What did you learn during the process of owning your own business?
I learned a lot about the internet and how you can really use it to market your company.
Where is the business today?
The business is growing. I have just been invited to apply to Shark Tank TV show so I am hoping to gain more knowledge and investments if I am accepted.
What are some of the most popular products?
My most popular product is The Ballerina for girl thumb suckers but Fireman Fred and Binky Fairy do well too!
How is your business different from other companies in the market?
Thumbuddy To Love is a positive teaching tool for children. It makes it fun, (not scary like some other products out there) to break the thumb sucking or pacifier sucking habit.
How do you balance work life with family life?
As a mom, you just make it happen and I do yoga to balance out the stress.