Never Underestimate a Momtreprenuer
By Aimee Taylor
Isabella Yosuico never planned to be a Momtrepreneur—she was already busy as a freelance writer and communications consultant. But when her son Isaac was born with Down syndrome, everything changed.
When Isaac was about four months old, his physical therapist told Isabella that he, like other children with Down syndrome, suffered from hypotonia or low muscle tone. "It wasn't hard for me to see what that meant," explains Isabella. "If my child was not physically strong, how could he move, explore and interact with the world? I knew that Isaac's physical development was closely linked to his development in all other areas. And I also knew that the sooner he got help, the better." Isabella sprang into action.
Using old fleece and sand from her children's sandbox, she made a prototype set of weights designed for a small child. They were colorful, soft and could be used on either Isaac's wrists or ankles. When Isaac's physical therapist saw them, she was impressed, remarking on how useful the weights could be in treating many different conditions, especially with younger kids. While Isabella designed the weights initially to strengthen Isaac, she was shocked and delighted to learn that she could not only help him, but also other children with a whole range of conditions.
Encouraged, Isabella started to develop the idea. Pretty soon, she had a strong sense of her new product, and her new company—MightyTykes was born.
What followed Isabella's first sandbox prototype was a lot of hard work with an equal amount of determination. Throughout the process, her goal was to make the product safe, affordable and quality-made in the US.
Every new endeavor is bound to have its setbacks and the MightyTykes story is no different. Along the way, there were hurdles to overcome, but Isabella found that unseen forces seemed to move her along and different people took interest in the project. She remarks, "From the word go, I've been blessed with the help of some extraordinary people. Friends, family and talented professionals for hire have all contributed in so many meaningful—and sometimes unexpected—ways, big and small. Whether urging me on or providing practical help, I wouldn't be here without them."
Isabella consulted with a physical therapist to guide her through the design and a product development specialist to help her through the manufacturing process. Through the U.S. Small Business Administration, she was assigned a coach to help her refine a business plan to pursue financing. And eventually, the product and new company were funded by not one, but two economic development entities. Last but not least, Isabella calls her husband and children her biggest supporters. "They're a great inspiration and really enthusiastic champions."
As the product design was refined, the time came to put it to the test. In the fall of 2012, a limited market trial was conducted. The product was sent to families around the country as well as several institutions that appear on the U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals list. Feedback from the trial was very favorable, encouraging Isabella to push forward.
The trial confirmed that the weights could be used in treating many conditions, such as one-sided weakness, toe walking, tremors, palsic movements and sensory issues. This meant that children with conditions such as infant stroke, prematurity, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and autism could also benefit from the product. Isabella relates, "Most of the survey respondents were using the weights for conditions other than Downs. It was especially inspiring to hear from parents of kids with all sorts of challenges."
After years of hard work, assistance from others, and encouragement from her family, Isabella's Infant & Child Weights as well as her new company, MightyTykes, will be officially launched at the New York Metro Abilities Expo!
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