Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

Hot Off the Press!

Monday, March 18, 2013 @ 03:03 PM
posted by mrscaz

Last week I got the surprise of a lifetime when a reporter from the Daytona Beach News Journal asked to interview me. How exciting! I thought I would share the article with you.

Dapper Snappers Daytona Beach News Journal article

Our little Des, working her fingers to the bone...

Parent’s frustration leads to launch of thriving business

Michelle Cazella, inventor of Dapper Snappers, displays the prototype that started her business.

News-Journal/LAURIE HAHN

LAURIE HAHN
BUSINESS WRITER
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 5:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 5:51 p.m.

PORT ORANGE — It all started because a toddler couldn’t keep his pants up.

Frustrated by the situation, Michelle Cazella, the mother of that toddler, developed a partial belt that fastens through the back belt loops of children’s pants and keeps the waist snug.

She showed her prototype to other mothers and asked, “Is this something you would buy?” The answer was a resounding yes, and in 2008 a home-based business was born.

Today, Cazella’s Toddler Tech USA, which moved from Oregon to Port Orange in 2009, has grown into a thriving company that employs 10 workers and manufactures Dapper Snappers, which are sold in more than a dozen countries.

After deciding to make and sell her product back in 2008, Cazella spent the next nearly two years researching the market and materials, a decision that experts say contributes to the success of any small business.

“You’ve got to do your due diligence,” said Doris “Connie” Bernal, site manager of the Volusia County-funded UCF Business Incubator at Daytona Beach International Airport. “Then if you discover a need, find the solution and create a product that will fill that need, it will succeed.”

Cazella said details are important to her and that she was determined that all the materials in her products, down to the staples in the packaging, would be made in the United States, which, she said, “is an amazing selling point.”

Much of her research time was spent hunting American manufacturers and suppliers who would meet her standards.

A friend suggested naming her product Dapper Snappers. Cazella bought a 1970s heavy-duty sewing machine off craigslist.com and her husband designed the packaging. “It’s interesting how all this has come together,” she said.

At first, she and her husband made and shipped Dapper Snappers from the garage of their then-home in Oregon. After moving to Port Orange to be closer to her husband’s family, Cazella and her husband attended a trade show in Las Vegas to increase the visibility of their startup business.

“We learned a lot at that trade show — how to place our product to get noticed — and we got orders, including from South America,” she said.

After the trade show they moved the business into a Port Orange warehouse, at 413 Oak Place. They have sinced doubled their space in that warehouse.

Now with three full-time and seven part-time employees, Cazella’s company does everything in-house — manufacturing, packaging and shipping. She designs the patterns for the Dapper Snappers, and they dye the material in-house as well.

Most of the marketing is done online, and Cazella uses innovative ways to reach potential customers.

“Word of mom is incredible,” she said. She said she often picks out popular “mom” bloggers and sends them free samples. They write about the product, and the orders roll in.

That’s another way entrepreneurs can succeed, Bernal said — finding new ways of reaching their target markets. Many small businesses fail because they don’t become familiar with resources for marketing. “You need to know all the ways you can market your product,” Bernal said.

Dapper Snappers, which has expanded to include products aimed at older kids, expectant mothers and elderly and special needs customers, sells online to individuals and to retail stores and outlets around the country and the world.

The business ships an average of approximately 5,000 pieces per month, she said, and is approaching $500,000 in annual revenue, which makes Cazella proud.

“We never took out a loan. Everything we made from the business we put back into the business,” she said. “Now we’re to the point where it supports us, but we’re not rich. To have all this and not owe anybody anything – I just love it. … It’s been an incredible ride.”

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Tips for Hurricane Preparedness (humor)

Monday, August 27, 2012 @ 08:08 PM
posted by mrscaz

If you don’t live in Florida, you might not get it. I know I didn’t truly get it until I moved to Florida, from Oregon to pursue my kids belts dream. Yea, that was a big change going from the land of no sunshine to the land of never-ending sunshine (except for the daily 3:30 rainstorm that lasts about 30 minutes).

So, in my extensive knowledge of hurricanes and preparedness, I have scoured the internet to find some of the tips to keep you prepared and some that just seem silly…

Tips for Hurricane Preparedness

1.  Decide now who will be responsible for your water supply. You do not need bottled water from the supermarket. Have containers on hand to hold tap water.  You’ll need enough for drinking, bathing and to flush the toilet. Ok, that’s a good tip, water – check. I won’t dehydrate and I can still use the loo! However, here is the last part of that tip. The bathtub is a good place to hold nondrinking water. Use caulking to seal the drain. Hmm… Ok, I guess if you are in a situation that severe that you need to caulk your bathtub, you may have wanted to evacuate. If you didn’t evacuate, and the storm has caused such havoc, you should probably drive until you find a hotel that wasn’t damaged.

2. If you plan to evacuate, do not count on going to the airport and flying out. If the hurricane moves quickly or develops suddenly, there will be no planes available. Duh, I mean really? I don’t want to fly when the weather is nice, let alone when there is a storm a-brewin’. My assistant (who is a native Floridian, yes they do exist) says that if you are going to evacuate, leave early enough to beat the traffic. She has evacuated for 2 separate hurricanes, one in which they left in plenty of time for and hit no traffic and the other took her on a 12 hour trip to Ocala (which is only an hour and a half from where she lived). 

This is probably not the best place to park your vehicle for a hurricane.

3. Decide where you will park your car(s). A garage is best; right next to the house is second best. Plan to move your boat early. Got it, car in the garage, boat in the… uh… boat parked… uh… wherever boats go. People die in every hurricane trying to save their boat. Do not let that happen to you. Ok, geesh! I’ll put my boat up before the storm, now that you have terrified me into thinking that I will die from a horrible hurricane/improperly stored boat disaster. Wait, we don’t have a boat, sweet! I have narrowly escaped that tragedy!

4. Pets are not allowed in evacuation centers and shelters. Only animals such as seeing eye dogs are permitted. Darn it, do you think our cats would pass as seeing eye cats? I can strap a leash on them, but I don’t think they would be very convincing as I am dragging their lifeless bodies across the floor because they are boycotting said leash.

5. Listen to the forecast. This one should probably be number 1 and as simple as it sounds, it’s a biggy. I have to say the last tropical storm that came through, I had no idea about until I was talking to someone and in passing I said “Wow, with all this rain, you’d think it was a tropical storm”. Boy did I feel silly when the person said, it is. Pay attention to any warnings and determine whether to evacuate or ride out the storm.

All jokes aside, hurricanes are serious and should be treated as such. Be safe and take all of the necessary precautions. I pray that everyone in the path of Issac stays safe.

Blessings,

Common Cents Mama - Kids Belts - Toddler Belts inventor

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Steve Jobs…

Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 01:10 PM
posted by mrscaz

February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011
And no, we don’t know where it will lead. We just know there’s something much bigger than any of us here. – Steve Jobs

I know its not “new” news, but I am sure you all have heard about the passing of Steve Jobs. You know, Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. He was also was co-founder and previously served as chief executive of a small time production company named Pixar Animation Studios; and he served on the of the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company in 2006. This is by no means an exhaustive list of his accomplishments, I don’t think I have enough room for that.

What a sad day, to say the least, I am sure that there were still endless possibilities to what this man could have created.

Being an inventor myself (have you seen my kids belts), I truly have an appreciation for Jobs’ work. His dedication to his products and his dream is the stuff they make movies about.

I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. – Steve Jobs

The “i” products alone are a huge contribution to they way we all live and work today. Personally, I own a Mac computer and an iPhone and I’m sure all of you out there know at least one person with an iPod, iPad, iPhone, or MacBook. Whether you are a PC person or an Apple person, we all still have to recognize that he was a force and will truly live on through his inventions.

To read his story and to hear he went from building computers in his garage, to what Apple has become today is very encouraging for me as an inventor who started making Dapper Snappers out of my home. One day I can be that big… will be that big… Dapper Snappers will be on everyone’s tongues. Not literally on their tongues, I’m speaking figuratively of course because that would just  be weird.

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me. – Steve Jobs

Blessings,

Common Cents Mama - Kids Belts - Toddler Belts inventor

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Do Me a HUGE Favor? Pretty Please??

Monday, August 22, 2011 @ 05:08 PM
posted by mrscaz
It's ON!

It's ON!!!

So I need your help. The story below is the long of it, but if you don’t have time to read it, I totally understand. The short of it is this:

I’m trying to get an audition for Dapper Snappers Kids Belts for a new tv show called Born By Moms with Ali Landry.

The TOP 10 Mompreneurs with the most “likes” for their products on Spokesmoms wall http://ow.ly/68XuT will be guaranteed to be auditioned!


Please help out by:

1) “Like” SpokesMoms.com fan page

2) “Like” my post on.fb.me/nVwzXS

3) Tell your friends!

Thank you!!

Now here’s the long of it…
First, I received this email press release on Friday:
For Immediate Release
ABC Kids Expo Partners with Creators of “Biggest Loser” and SpokesMoms.com to Launch New Reality Series at 2011 Show
All Baby & Child, Inc. and the ABC Kids Expo® are excited to announce the launch of a new reality TV show, “Born by Moms,” at the 2011 ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, KY.
SpokesMoms.com, in association with seasoned veteran TV producer Mark Koops (creator and executive producer of “Biggest Loser”) will be holding their first open casting calls for the series at the tradeshow.
This new television production focuses on products invented by mompreneurs—entrepreneurs who happen to be moms. The show will be hosted by Ali Landry, who is expecting her second child, and will create an unprecedented opportunity for new companies to spotlight their products and generate immediate interest as only national television coverage can.
Unlike other shows that discover new products, “Born by Moms” will focus on the vision and story of the mom behind the product. “Born by Moms” is the brainchild of Anthony Samadani and Ali Landry, founders of SpokesMoms.com, a new web site launching in early October to provide intuitive product reviews and help moms make better informed choices when buying baby and child products.
One lucky mompreneur will win a $5000 investment to help her build on her dream simply for auditioning for the series at the 2011 ABC Kids Expo. For information about auditioning, contact SpokesMoms Productions at production@spokesmoms.com or (310) 405-9100.
For information about the tradeshow, visit www.theabcshow.com or call the ABC Hotline at (210) 691-4848.

Can you guess what happened? Within the 1/2 hour, the email box was full. Within an hour, the voicemail box was full. So what did they do?

Emailed 5 hours later stating this:

Due to the amazing and overwhelming response to Born by Moms press release from the ABC Kids Expo on 8/19/2011, the phone lines and email have been swamped and many people have been unable to get through to the phone number listed.

As a result the producers are requesting that you PLEASE visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SpokesMoms and then “LIKE” them. Then post your product and background information and the producers will follow up with you individually regarding auditions. If you do not have a Facebook account, please continue to email SpokesMoms Productions at production@spokesmoms.com.

After doing as requested, along with hundreds of other mamapreneurs, SpokesMoms posted this as an official announcement on their facebook page:

SPOKESMOMS OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

The TOP 10 Mompreneurs with the most “likes” for their products on the Spokesmoms wall on will be guaranteed to be auditioned, and then be qualified to win the Born From Moms $5,000 Grand Prize!

So start promoting now and Guarantee your opportunity to audition for Born By Moms http://ow.ly/691sD

Thank you!

It seems to me that they are making it up as they go along. But that’s okay. I do that too! Of course, now its ON!

So now it’s my turn to beg of you to PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON TOP “Like” my post at on.fb.me/nVwzXS so that I can qualify to be auditioned for the show. I would really Really REALLY appreciate it.  (You won’t be able to like my post until you like the SpokesMoms.com fan page.

Thank you. Big Hugs. :)

Blessings,

Common Cents Mama - Kids Belts - Toddler Belts inventor

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I’m a Winner!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011 @ 04:04 PM
posted by mrscaz

Kids Belts award

I’d like to thank the acadamy…or not.

Really, I have all of you, my friends, family, and fans, to thank. Without your votes I wouldn’t have placed in the top 200. So, thank you for everything! Group hug?

Here’s the official press release…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

StartupNation.com Honors Nation’s Leading Moms in Business

Michelle Cazella of Toddler Tech USA Wins Top Honors in Mom Business Competition
Port Orange, FL – April 28th, 2011– From among thousands of contestants across the United States, Toddler Tech USA’s Michelle Cazella, creator of Dapper Snappers Kids Belts, has been ranked in the top 200 in StartupNation.com’s 2011 Leading Moms in Business competition. (http://www.startupnation.com/leading-moms-in-business/2011-winners/)

Millions of votes have been cast in the annual competition, and this year’s flurry of popular support of the 2011 contestants was no exception. America has once again demonstrated its immense interest and support for moms building businesses as they also tend to their families. “With startup rates at an all-time high, these leading moms are leading the pack in startup rates,” says Rich Sloan, chief startupologist and co-founder of StartupNation. “They’re going after their business opportunities and developing their innovative products and services with fervor,” Sloan adds.

“This is an amazing acknowledgement of the hard work all of us Mamapreneurs put into our businesses while balancing our family lives,” says Michelle. She has worked diligently for the past 3 years to make Dapper Snappers Kids Belts a household name while wearing her “Mom” hat full-time.

After launching Dapper Snappers in 2008, Michelle decided to manufacture her kids belts here in the United States. Up until a year ago, she was still making them in her garage. Today, she has a 2,000 sq foot manufacturing facility and 7 employees. She now sells Dapper Snappers in more than 200 stores nationwide and in 14 countries! “One of my dreams when I started this business was to help other Mamapreneurs launch their products, build their brands, and become successful entrepreneurs. As a recognized winner of Startup Nation’s Leading Moms in Business contest, I have the confidence to move forward with that dream,” Michelle says. Her winner’s profile can be found at http://bit.ly/dslmib11.

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About Toddler Tech USA
Toddler Tech USA is the manufacturer of Dapper Snappers kids belts. Toddler Tech aims to provide time-saving, high-quality, affordable products and amazing customer service. Toddler Tech also manufactures Dapper Snappers Mitten Clips, Dapper Snappers Belts for Moms, as well as provides add-on clips for pants without belt loops. Find out more about the company at: http://www.dappersnappers.com/About-Kids-Belts-Baby-Accessories-Toddler-Belt.html.

About Michelle Cazella
Michelle, a 40-year-old mother to two little people, owns and operates Toddler Tech USA, manufacturing and distributing Dapper Snappers worldwide. After giving birth to her first child in 2005, and proudly watching him begin to walk (albeit with droopy drawers) just eight-and-a-half months later, Michelle became an “mamapreneur” with her Dapper Snappers invention. Michelle is busy working on her inventive additions to the Dapper Snappers line, including new designs and big kids belts.

About StartupNation
StartupNation (www.startupnation.com) provides over 200,000 pages of business advice and networking for entrepreneurs and serves millions of entrepreneurs annually. StartupNation is a free service founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs with the intention of providing a one-stop shop for entrepreneurial success, including blogs from a host of experts, podcasts, webcasts, eBooks such as Start Your Own Mom Business (www.startupnation.com/mom-business), award-winning step-by-step advice, and more.

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For more information, press only:

For Toddler Tech USA, contact Michelle Cazella at Michelle at ToddlerTechUSA dot com or by phone at 866-998-8872 ext 0.

For StartupNation, contact Rich Sloan via email at Rich at StartupNation dot com or by phone at 248-430-1002.

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Blessings,
Common Cents Mama - Queen of Kids Belts
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“There is no crying in baseball, and there shouldn’t be any lead either,” said Caroline Cox, Research Director at the Center for Environmental Health, in a recent press release by CEH. I just about died laughing when I saw that quote. But the problem of lead in kids belts is no laughing matter. I wrote (well, co-wrote really, with help from my amazing assistant. Okay…she did most of the writing…you happy? lol) a press release about it and here it is:

Walmart and Rawlings Warned about Lead-laden Kids Belts

little league baseball kids beltsPort Orange, FL April 12, 2011 — The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) recently issued a press release concerning high levels of lead detected in Little League Baseball uniform belts. Well-known name brand, Rawlings, is among the offenders named in this report and includes belts sold in Walmart, Sport’s Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Some kids belts were found to contain 280 times more lead than federal safety standards set for children’s products by the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).  Their concern is for children being exposed to high levels of lead any time they touch the belts and through hand-to-mouth contact.

Lead is a neurotoxin that causes a myriad of problems including brain damage, learning disorders, hearing problems and stunted growth.  However, it is our littlest ones that are most vulnerable because their rapidly developing nervous systems make them especially sensitive to the affects of lead.  Even the smallest amounts of lead exposure may cause children to appear hyperactive, unable to focus and irritable. At higher levels, lead exposure can cause permanent brain damage, even death.  Scientists and doctors commonly agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for young children.

Inventor and distributor of Dapper Snapper kids belts (http://DapperSnappers.com), Michelle Cazella, expressed her own concern over this matter both as a mother and as a business woman. “When I read about this in the news, my first concern was for my son.  Jacob plays tee-ball and we recently purchased a sports belt for him.  Parents should be able to purchase kids belts and other children’s products without having to worry about putting their children at risk of lead exposure.  I go to great lengths to make sure that our Dapper Snapper kids belts are kid-friendly and lead-free.  At Toddler Tech USA we undergo stringent lead testing to certify that our products meet the standards set by the CPSC.  I am surprised that bigger companies, like Rawlings, aren’t doing the same.”

Legal notices have been served by the CEH alerting retailers and the state that the belts violate California consumer protection law.  CEH also notified the CPSC. Parents purchasing sports uniform kids belts for their children from large chain stores should be aware of the possibility of a recall. Michella Cazella further remarks, “It is the responsibility of well-trusted companies like Walmart and Sport’s Authority to ensure that parents are not only getting the best price, but also products that are safe for our children.” Dapper Snappers kids belts, are not sold in large chain stores, but in over 200 children’s boutiques and online stores nationwide.

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About Toddler Tech USA
Toddler Tech USA is the manufacturer of Dapper Snappers kids belts. Toddler Tech aims to provide time-saving, high-quality, affordable products and amazing customer service. Toddler Tech also manufactures Dapper Snappers Mitten Clips, Dapper Snappers Belts for Moms, as well as provides add-on clips for pants without belt loops. Find out more about the company at: http://www.dappersnappers.com/About-Kids-Belts-Baby-Accessories-Toddler-Belt.html.

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