If you've followed our blog at all, you know we do an annual post about autism for 2 reasons: my first job out of college involved working as a teacher at the New England Center for Children, a school for children with autism, and now that I'm a parent, I've seen, first-hand, the prevalence of autism, so I'm passionate about increasing awareness.
For this post, we reached out to a friend whose daughter has autism, asking if he'd be willing to share about the following: When did you first suspect that Zoe had Autism? What did you do? What are your favorite activities that you and Zoe enjoy?
Eric - Thank you for sharing so candidly.
"20 months went by, and it all felt normal. Zoe and I were thick as thieves and I loved spoiling her. I couldn't help myself. She loved swings, she loved being held by daddy and boy did she like to eat (daddy's girl for sure!) We thought everything was fine...I think about it constantly, did I miss the signs earlier? I don't know...but it still haunts me as early intervention is crucial with young kids on the spectrum. As the months went by we started noticing a couple of things leading up to her 2nd birthday that started to concern us. Anytime she would pick up a new word or skill, she would lose something she already knew. She was a bit slow in walking and when she did start to walk she would walk on her toes. She seemed to fixate on certain objects...I think my wife and I both had read enough about autism that we were starting to see some red flags. We decided to take her to a developmental pediatrician...I think we both hoped that the doctor would call us paranoid and tell us we were imagining things...that's not how things worked out. "Your daughter is on the spectrum of autism..." It felt like a vacuum had sucked all the air out of the world. It was devastating. My flashes forward on that day were darker and in a quiet moment alone I cried until there were no more tears. Would there be a father-daughter dance now, how do I protect her from this, she does not deserve this...I was sad, I was angry, but most of all I was afraid. Afraid is the unknown, afraid I would never get to know the girl inside of Zoe, afraid autism would take her away from me."January 23, 2011, in the middle of one of the biggest snowstorms NYC had ever seen, I held in my arms the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on, my daughter, Zoe. It was love at first sight. I was smitten and I was never going to let her go. It's weird, I distinctly remember sitting in that hospital room with this little nugget beside me, flashing forward to her wedding day and wondering what our father-daughter dance would be like, and how bittersweet it would be for me. Less than 24 hours in the world and I was already feeling territorial haha.
There was a short grieving process and then Heidi and I went to work. We weren't going to let this diagnosis take her away from us. We went about getting Zoe all the tools she would need to reach her full potential. We secured district support to enroll Zoe at REED Academy, we hired speech therapists and private ABA therapists. We threw all our resources at trying to improve Zoe's quality of life. She's sharp as tacks...she just learns differently and she has to fight through a cacophony of sensory input that I will never fully grasp just to simply focus. I'll never truly understand her struggle, but she is a fighter and she comes from a family of fighters and we are making progress thanks to hard work dedication and a strong support system of friends and the folks at REED.
Zoe is 5 now...she's the same kid really. Happy disposition, loves a good adrenaline rush, loves to eat. We love to be outside together, love to sneak cupcakes and ice cream when we are not supposed to but mostly we love to just be together. We are inseparable. We have a special connection...and while she may not say the words all the time, she doesn't need to. She loves her daddy and daddy will always love her to the moon and back." - Eric Chung
This year, Eric is trying to raise $20,000 for the Go the Distance for Autism charity ride. He will be doing 25 miles. Please consider joining Team Zoe as a rider or a "virtual rider" by clicking this link http://www.gtd4autism.org/
Thanks for tuning in and watching what has happened, with our business and our lives, since we were first on Shark Tank in 2012. As you saw in the episode, we met with one of our investors, Robert Herjavec, in January, 2015, and filmed for Beyond the Tank one year ago. A lot can happen and has happened in one year…
That’s the good news, but it’s not all rosy. Running a small business is hard work, and everything feels very tenuous! I hate to admit that Mark and I are often filled with fear and self-doubt. Should we spend more money and resources to launch another new product or do we stay the course and let it happen more organically? Who is our next hire? What can we be doing better? We open a new account and get that sale, but we are constantly reminding ourselves that nothing lasts forever. As a working mom, I often feel burned out and overwhelmed, but I am blessed with friends, family, and a business that motivate me to power through the rough patches. One thing I can never take for granted is that I absolutely LOVE what I do. Work makes me happy and is fulfilling in so many ways.
In closing, we just want to say a HUGE thank you to our friends, family, colleagues, customers, and retailers. Thank you also to the people behind Shark Tank and Beyond the Tank for the numerous opportunities. It all began with a casting call in 2011, and here we are in 2016 – still in business and growing! Without the relentless support of so many people, none of this would exist, so we appreciate all of you in the biggest way!
Classic. I fly from Southern California to Dallas, Texas for 24 hours to see Mark Cuban deliver a keynote address at a “Women in Toy” event on Monday 10/5, and I have NO memory left on my phone – couldn’t even snap one photo. I had to ask a colleague to take a photo of Mark and me and text it to me, and while Mark was saying some amazing things, I literally couldn’t record any of it. SO frustrating to say the least, but I took copious notes, and I’m making it up to myself by sharing it with you.
As many of you know, Mark Cuban, is truly a self-made billionaire. He has incredible business acumen and an indescribable tenacity that is simply inspiring to entrepreneurs like me and my husband, Mark. I am still a bit star-struck by Mark Cuban, even though he owns part of Lollaland. Mark [Cuban] has always been passionate about playing [and watching] basketball. He never made it to the NBA, but guess what? He bought an NBA team instead (Go Mavs! #MFFL). I can’t help but think of this as the ultimate example of persistence and thinking outside the box.
For those of you who couldn’t be at the event, here are the main takeaways, from Mark Cuban’s keynote address – read them slowly and carefully.
Mark Cuban closed the keynote address with this, and I will end with it as well: “The American Dream is alive and well.” Take these tips and may it help your business, and personal life, prosper.
First, congratulations. You’ve taken an idea to market, built distribution, and I’m excited to see how you and NeatCheeks fare in the infamous Shark Tank tonight!
I know it’s been a while since we last talked in October, but it’s been exciting to watch your company grow, and now - Shark Tank! I was so humbled when you, fellow mompreneurs, reached out to me for advice, and there was so much to talk about. We have so much in common: we all have three children, we’re working moms, and all small businesses inherently share similar struggles.
Thank you for sending me a few samples of NeatCheeks. I tried them for the first time on my feisty two-year-old this week. She’s two so she eats independently, but it’s never neat. She is the third of three girls, so admittedly, she is a spoiled brat. I simply have not had the energy to set boundaries like I did with my older two. Anyway, she always throws a fit as I wipe her filthy face after meals, and I just power through the process because I know she’ll get over it one day. Before I cleaned her face with NeatCheeks, I showed her the little package (which is the perfect size, by the way), and told her it was a yummy wipe. She was instantly intrigued, and it worked like a charm! I even caught my six-year-old licking a NeatCheek wipe!
I’m really excited to see what the future has in store for NeatCheeks. Whatever the outcome of your negotiations in the Shark Tank may be, I know this will mean big things for you. Cheers to years and years of success.
Hanna Lim (Lollaland)
AND, for all you parents or Shark Tank fans out there, Lollaland and NeatCheeks are hosting a GIVEAWAY. We are giving away a Lollacup + a Lollaland Mealtime Set + NeatCheeks wipes to try in honor of NeatCheeks' appearance on Shark Tank tonight. To enter the GIVEAWAY, please leave a comment (any comment) on this blog post, and we will randomly select 1 winner on Friday, April 24, 2015.
AND, for all you fellow entrepreneurs out there, we always love to network and learn from others, so please feel free to comment here or reach out to us in Lollaland!
Many companies who have been on Shark Tank are in contact with one another. We are all entrepreneurs who often share the same struggles, and it's always nice to connect with other "mompreneurs" and network. Susan, from Freshly Picked, and I did a product trade. I sent her Lollacups and Mealtime Sets for her children, and she sent me a pair of her darling moccasins for my youngest daughter, who is now 21-months-old.
I am a sucker for packaging, and these little moccasins arrived in a simple white pouch with a cute little button (both emblazoned with the FP logo). Inside were the moccasins and a sheet of emoji stickers that my older girls had a field day with.
What I absolutely love about these shoes for infants/toddlers is that they're so lightweight, soft, and flexible. I absolutely abhor stiff shoes that give my baby blisters; There's simply no need for that. Freshly Picked moccasins have become our everyday + dress-up shoe.
There aren't many shoes that can look great with both leggings and a onesie AND a velvet holiday dress, but Susan has nailed it with Freshly Picked! We are kicking off the holiday season with a "Made in USA" giveaway that is valued at $120. One winner will win a pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins (any color/any size) and a Lollaland Gift Set (1 Lollacup, 1 Straw Replacement Pack, 1 Mealtime Set, and 1 Canvas Tote - any color). This exciting giveaway begins Monday, November 24th, and one winner will be randomly selected on Monday, December 1st. To enter, comment below with your favorite thing about the holidays. For example: "Spending quality time with the kids."
NEW POLICY, PLEASE READ! The winner cannot have won any other giveaway including a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins and/or Lollaland products within the last 60 days.
Before having children and launching Lollaland, I used to be a high school chemistry teacher. My students would often ask, “Why do I need to learn this? I will never use stoichiometry in real life.” My response was, “Learning to problem solve will be invaluable in all your future endeavors.” It’s true that most people will never use stoichiometry outside of their high school chemistry classrooms, but life is full of “reactions” that could use some careful study and analysis.
Launching a business and running a company requires the most critical thinking and problem solving I’ve ever done. Thanks to Shark Tank and our amazing partners, Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec, we have had many unique and rare opportunities (one of which will be featured on tonight’s season premiere of Shark Tank, Season 6)! Partnering with Mark and Robert has been a great experience for us, and Lollaland has experienced steady growth since Lollacup's launch in 2011. This year, we were presented with one of our most exciting, but challenging opportunities – mass retail!
When our episode of Shark Tank aired in April, 2012, the most common request/comment we received was, “ I LOVE that Lollacup is 100% made in the USA, BUT I wish it were more affordable.” To answer this call, we developed a more affordable cup for this new Shark Tank/Target program. This new cup is called the Lollaland Straw Sippy Cup, and details and differences between the two cups are outlined below. Lollacup vs. Lollaland Straw Sippy Cup - Lollacup vs. Lollaland Straw Sippy Cup - Made in USA vs. Made in Taiwan - Iconic Lollacup Bird Design vs. Bear - Distinctive triangular packaging vs. more traditional box with a window The Lollacup will always be 100% Made in the USA, but we hope that the Lollaland Straw Sippy Cup will make our products more accessible for all. Thank you for your continued support.
Mark + Hanna Lim | Lollaland Here’s a little snippet about tonight's season premiere of Shark Tank, Season 6 (source: ABC.com): There will be an All Stars Update where Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran illustrate the power of Shark Tank.
They sealed a deal to sell six of their Shark Tank products in a special display at a major retail store.
The entrepreneurs from Lollaland, Kisstixx, Monkey Mat, Kazam, U-lace, and Ry’s Ruffery are thrilled to see their products on Target’s shelves for the first time.
Before their deals on Shark Tank, the combined value of the entrepreneurs’ products equaled $1.3 million dollars in sales.
Today, that value has increased to $7.7 million dollars, a 500% increase.
Thanksgiving week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. What is better for your soul than thinking about all the things you are grateful for? Also, who doesn’t love that it is perfectly acceptable to spend 7 straight days obsessing about gorging yourself all night?
That being said, this year’s Thanksgiving is bittersweet for our family. Hanna has been suffering all year with a severe skin condition for the past 9 months (link to blog post). I can’t even begin to imagine how I would handle being in that much pain every morning, noon, and night for such an extended period of time. Luckily we have had amazing support. We moved into my parents’ house (thanks mom!) for 6 months because Hanna was unable to properly care for our newborn and our friends would send food and flowers on a weekly basis (best friends ever). Yet, even though we feel incredibly blessed, it has been difficult to deal with the countless nights of crying and feeling utterly helpless.
While I was exhibiting at a tradeshow in Las Vegas last month, I was beginning to feel sorry for myself. Even though I didn’t show it, having to deal with this major adjustment in our lives while struggling to grow this small business was starting to affect my mental state… Until I met Bill.
Bill is the owner of Baby Face Band, a very useful item that allows you to personalize your child’s cup or bottle by putting the picture of your child on a band that goes around bottle. It makes perfect sense because your kid could easily identify his/her cup without having to know how to read!
Bill approached me in Las Vegas to talk about my experience on Shark Tank. I was more than happy to talk about our journey and when I asked him about his story, I learned that we had a lot in common. Baby Face Band was created by his wife, Laura, they were in contact with Shark Tank, and they also have three young children. It’s almost like we were the same family except in different states!
But as the conversation went on I learned that Bill had lost his wife to cancer just about a year ago and that he was exhibiting at the show to keep her vision alive. As soon as he shared this with me it took every muscle in my body from dropping to my knees and crying for him. Immediately, I felt a rush of guilt for feeling so sorry for myself while Bill, who has the biggest smile in the US, is juggling his business and his kids without his wife. For the past month, I’ve been thinking and praying for Bill and his family. We’ve only been in touch a few times since I met him in Las Vegas but his story has given me a lot of perspective. I really admire his strength and I’m hoping to learn how to be as positive as he is. I will definitely spend this Thanksgiving thanking my lucky stars and hugging my family members as hard as I can.
Lollaland + Baby Face Band Giveaway!
To enter: Send good thoughts to Bill and his three young children during the holidays and enter either Red, Green, Blue, or Pink. We will choose 4 lucky winners (Ends Dec 1, 2013) to get a free lollacup and matching Baby Face Band. Happy Thanksgiving!
Here it is in action: (picture of adorable baby not included)
Sensitive Skin, Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis – Apparently, I’ve had it all since the day I was born. I’ve struggled with dry, itchy skin, rashes, and redness my whole life, but six weeks ago, before I had my 3rd daughter, my eczema flared up like never before. My face and most of my body were red and blistery and unbearably itchy and dry. After I had the baby, Mark Cuban invited us to do an appearance with him on The View, so for vanity reasons, I called my dermatologist, who gave me a potent steroid cream to use for 3 days only. My skin cleared up almost instantaneously, just in time to look eczema-free on the show. I stopped using the steroid cream the morning of the taping, and twelve hours later, my eczema went into overdrive. I had never seen my skin look that bad.
To make a long story, short, I'm convinced my skin is addicted to topical steroid creams. I used them on and off throughout my life when my eczema would flare, but who knew you could become addicted to skin creams? I am under the care of a dermatologist, who says the only remedy is to "withdraw" from the steroids. The upside is that he says by withdrawing or stopping the use of all steroid creams, steroid injections, and oral steroids, I will be completely cured of eczema. The downside is that I will look like a burn victim and have intense eczema flares for at least 6 months to as long as 2 years!!! Since one's skin is the largest organ of the body, it may take a long time to recover from this “addiction.” Another thing that makes it difficult is that I need to stay out of the sun and keep my body cool for the time being. This should be quite a feat considering I live in Southern California!
I have consulted many dermatologists over the years and thought long and hard about what to do about my persistent eczema, and I’ve decided that going through this God-awful withdrawal is my only option. Right now, I look like I have 3rd degree burns all over my face and body, and it goes through a different phase daily - red, oozing, burning, extremely dry, etc. Everyday is so unpredictable. I go between getting chills and sweating profusely and it's uncomfortable to wear clothes, so I have not left my house except to see doctors. Thankfully, Lollacup headquarters is in my home, so I am able to work and I have a precious newborn to love and care for, so that has been my saving grace. It is going to be a long year, but I'm hopeful that this doctor is right and my eczema will be gone after the whole withdrawal process is said and done.
I know that this is just temporary, and I am so very thankful that I am healthy otherwise, but I feel compelled to write about my condition to alert those of you with eczema or children with eczema to be very cautious of steroid use. I am not an expert or a physician, so I’m not saying that all steroids are bad, but I think it’s important to know that one’s skin can become addicted to topical steroids and the side effects of these creams are quite scary.
FYI, this is the non-profit organization (itsan.org) that is trying to get the word out about topical steroid addiction. It wasn't until I stumbled upon this website that I realized what was happening to me.
Our episode of Shark Tank is re-airing tonight on ABC at 8 p.m., so I thought I would take a stroll down memory lane.
Although our actual segment on Shark Tank only lasted 10+ minutes, we stood negotiating in front of the sharks for well over an hour. It was an incredibly stressful yet exhilarating experience. How often does one have an idea, turn it into a product, and then pitch the business to moguls like the "sharks"!
Things I never want to forget:
Things I'd like to forget:
Overall, our experience on Shark Tank has been like the gift that keeps on giving. Now that it's been about a year since we first appeared on Shark Tank, people often ask us, "Was it worth it?" and "Would you do it again?" Absolutely! One thing I learned about entrepreneurship is that you have to seize every opportunity, and not take luck and timing for granted.
20 years ago I was a pimply-faced eighth-grader who spent the entire day practicing this exact line, “will you be my girlfriend?” At 2:45pm, I finally mustered up the courage to “ask her out” by the school gym, and thankfully, her answer was ‘yes!’ I know this sounds crazy, but after just a few months of dating her, I knew Hanna was the one. In fact, I have hundreds of old letters to prove how confident I was.
6 years ago today we made it official and got married in Pasadena, California. It was the happiest day of my life. Not only was I marrying someone I admire so much, but she happened to be my very best friend. But who in the world knew that one day we would become business partners?
People warned me about working with my wife and I have to admit, I was a little worried too. We are far from perfect and I didn’t want to strain our relationship by arguing over every little detail that goes into running a small business. Having launched a small business before, I knew that the work environment can often be explosive and stressful. After working on this project for a little over 2 years I’m surprised to find that we’ve somehow grown closer.
Hanna and I eat, breath, and sleep lollacup. We take every piece of feedback personally, and we do our best to create a product/service that we would want for our own family. To us, your kids and their experience with the lollacup means everything.
I’ll be honest, I’d much rather be celebrating our anniversary in Fiji... but working a tradeshow in New York was the next best choice. =)
Happy anniversary babe, love you always.