Need to keep your children happy while you run errands? You need My Ami!

A lot of moms in Colorado Springs are Stay-at-Home moms.  That means that children that are not yet in school are usually with moms when they need to run their errands. 

Running errands are not usually a fun time for children.  They can get bored easily and that can lead to less than desirable behavior to include tantrums.  Moms certainly don’t like to have to deal with tantrums, especially in public when they are trying to get their errands accomplished.

When children are audibly, visually and mentally stimulated, they focus on what is stimulating them.  If moms can keep their children occupied in this manner, running errands will tend to go much smoother for all involved.  How is a mom to keep her child(ren) happy while running errands?  The answer is My Ami developed be Bea.

Bea, tell us about yourself.

I am a 40 year old mom of three boys, a wife to a wonderful husband and a sibling to 3 brothers and a sister. I was born to Mexican immigrant parents in East Los Angeles, with very humble beginnings and I am proud to be first generation American. I currently dedicate my life to raising my three boys. A responsibility that I don’t take lightly, is determining what needs to be accomplished and the lessons that our children need to learn on a daily basis, in order to make them positive contributors to society, who are also responsible citizens, and loving members of our family. Now on a much lighter side, I have tried not to lose myself while parenting.  I enjoy movie watching, reading, crafting, creating, volunteering, eating (that’s my favorite hobby), skating and laughing. I believe that laughter, love and prayer can get you through everything. All of which I do with my family. I ask myself a question every night, “Is this world or anyone in it better because I was here today?”. If the answer Yes, then I had a great day.

Tell us about your business.

My Ami is a property of Ami Entertainment Solutions LLC. It is currently a one (wo)man operation with the help and support of my husband. We officially launched the My Ami at ToyFair 2010 last February in New York City and are successfully selling through our website, and word of mouth. In addition, we have an opinionated family to bounce thoughts and ideas off of and much appreciated support from a technically savvy friend and his wife, a mommy who runs her business from home too. We also have a great graphics guy who is there whenever we call upon him.

My Ami, was conceived a couple years back while in the grocery store with my three boys. Because I am a stay at home mom, the children are often with me while running errands. I provided my children with my iPod Touch because I understand that children need to be mentally, visually and audibly stimulated, particularly when in an environment that is not geared towards children. The iPod Touch works great in these situations but I found myself worried when I gave it to the boys to watch knowing that my $300.00 iPod Touch could end up broken on the floor. As you can imagine this was quite stressful. One day I came home determined on figuring out a way to keep my children entertained while running errands and at the same time protect my iPod Touch.  I took apart a couple of matching teddy bears and took a sewing needle to them.  A short while later, I was in my husband’s office showing off what was unknowingly, at the time, the initial prototype for the My Ami available today. I originally created this for my children to use and for my own peace of mind. The boys loved it! They wanted to take it everywhere.  We took it shopping, out to dinner, to sports events, to our eldest son’s baseball and swimming practices and for rides in the car. It went everywhere. An amazing thing occurred, the time spent out with the boys increased tremendously. When the boys showed signs of getting bored and fussy we simply gave them the bear holding the iPod Touch to keep them occupied and entertained, all while the bear provided a secure place for the iPod Touch.  The boys were able to watch shows or use the apps that we had downloaded for them for a longer period of time because now there wasn’t a need to hold the device.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge has been the lack of domestic manufacturing resources that are able to provide a product at a price that is reasonable for a small company trying to get off their feet. Our plastics are manufactured and assembled in the U.S. The box was also designed and manufactured in the U.S. Fulfillment takes place in the U.S. but what we could not get was a plush teddy bear. Being that there are only a few plush manufacturers in the U.S., our resources were limited and without an extraordinarily large order (I mean huge!) they wouldn’t even take my calls. I did find one manufacturer that was willing to listen and make a prototype but when it came down to negotiating a price there were no signs of flexibility. Unfortunately, we could not afford a bear made in the U.S. This was a great disappointment for us.  We were left no other option but to go abroad. This came with a set of challenges all of their own.  Communicating with a language barrier is really difficult. The time difference made for some sleepless nights. Have you ever thought about how many shades of brown are available in plush? Pictures, through e-mail, do not show you the actual color and the texture of the textile.  Because of international shipping there are additional taxes, custom fees, etc.  Shipping did provide two options though, via air freight which is expensive and by sea which is incredibly slow.  And we experienced that a few times over until we received what we ordered. That has been and still is our biggest challenge.

What has come the easiest for you?

The solution to the problem was the easiest part. Everyday moms come across a problem, situation or inconvenience and say to themselves ” If someone would come up with something to ________, it would make my life so much easier.” This happens all the time. In my opinion, I think that along with our maternal instinct, common sense is heightened and problem solving skills are strengthened, when we become moms. Thus, allowing us to come up with creative solutions to our inconveniences. Many mommy ideas and products out there are channeled through common sense but are rooted in problem solving.

Advances in technology are occurring and getting better, literally everyday. My Ami embraces that (no pun intended). Education for our children no longer has to solely come from a hardcover book format in a classroom setting. It can be downloadable digital books, alphabet apps, digital TV shows or movies. Inevitably, modern technology will be part of our children’s everyday lives, in one form or another. And what wonderful times we are in now, that education and entertainment is portable! My Ami combines the comfort of a soft plush teddy bear with modern technology. It provides a young child a sense of ownership and some responsibility with an item that they are familiar with, a “teddy bear”. They can hold it comfortably with their small hands and not have to try to manipulate and hold a $300.00 iPod Touch, a $400.00 smart phone, My Ami holds it for them, securely and safely.
 
Where do you advertise…or do you?
 
In 2010, all of the advertising funds were used for trade show participation, ToyFair 2010 in New York and ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. This year, 2011,  we will begin a more aggressive marketing and advertising campaign and hopefully be able to reach more parents. Currently you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.  And of couse, the best advertising of all, word of mouth.
 
What would you like to suggest to a mom who is interested in starting her own business?
 
The one thing that held me up a few times was fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of honest opinion, fear of asking, fear of rejection and even fear of success.  If I could suggest anything I would have to quote a tag line that Nike uses, “JUST DO IT“.  I did not know anything about manufacturing and I just sat in front of the computer and started searching.  My husband and I learned how to mold plastic for the prototypes. We spent countless hours trying and testing speakers because of lack of knowledge.  Throughout this process we were always honest with the people we spoke to and explained that we were new to the industry.  Many professionals we spoke to offered guidance and advice, from speaker jack manufacturers to large PR Firms and attorneys, many were willing to to help.
 
My parents taught me that as long as I fail while trying and not because I did not try, then it’s OK. Opportunity leads to success but often times requires hard work to get there. If you fear the unknown and don’t try, you will never arrive to what is set apart for you. Success!
 
Many thanks to Bea of My Ami for her wonderful story and her very good advice for moms who are interested in starting their own business.  Please visit her website, her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.
 
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Director of Communications for Our Milk Money, the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of Buy By Mom and Buy By Mom Blog. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.
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