Child Safe Photo Albums
Money wasn't the motivator for Laura Miranti, who went from being a homemaker with four children to an entrepreneur with an award-winning product.
She simply wanted to use photos to help her developmentally delayed daughter, Lucia, learn vocabulary words.
But Laura couldn't find a photo album suitable for a toddler with small hands and sturdy enough to withstand rough treatment. So she invented one.
"I couldn't believe no one else had thought of this," said Laura, 36, who moved to Edwardsville from Texas in September.
"Kids love photos, but most parents aren't going to hand over their photo albums to their little ones. They don't want them to get messed up."
Laura filed for a patent, found a manufacturer and began selling her Take a Pix photo albums on the Internet in December of 2008.
The kid-friendly albums are made like board books with thick cardboard pages, rounded corners and notches for easing flipping.
"The windows have clear, protective coverings, so little fingers aren't going to touch the photos," Laura said. "Even if kids are chewing on them, the photos don't get wet."
Laura donated two albums to Lucia's early childhood special-education class at Glen Carbon Elementary School last year.
Teacher Jill Schulte filled them with photos of a fire-station field trip and students in Halloween costumes.
"Those books were probably read by 15 children on a daily basis, and nothing ever ripped or tore," she said. "They were used a lot, and they're still in great shape."
The albums are designed for all children, not just those with disabilities. They recently won a Dr. Toy's Best Vacation Children's Products Award and a Kidlutions Preferred Project Award.
Customer Vicki Sorrells, 65, of Glendale, Mo., ordered a pink album as a shower gift for her daughter last fall.
Today, Vicki baby-sits her 7-month-old granddaughter, Abby, on weekdays. They look at photos of Mom, Dad, other relatives and family pets.
"Sometimes she really pays attention, and sometimes not so much," Vicki said. "But it gives her a good feel for books."
Laura and her husband, Chris, live near Sunset Hills Country Club with their four children, Slone, 14, Marren, 11, Lucia, 5, and Loren, 20 months.
Chris is a former U.S. Marine who became branch manager for a tractor-trailer company in Troy last fall.
He helped his wife sketch her photo-album idea, but it has primarily been her project.
"I was behind her 100 percent," said Chris, 39. "It made sense. It wasn't some crazy idea for a plastic gadget that people may or may not want or need."
Laura has a bachelor's in finance and international business from Baylor University in Texas and a master's in accounting from University of Houston.
She was working out of her home as a financial analyst when she began noticing problems with Lucia.
"She wasn't meeting her milestones," Laura said. "All she did was roll over at age 1, and not very often."
Doctors diagnosed reduced white matter in the brain, which is key to central-nervous-system messaging.
Lucia learned to crawl, sit, walk and talk with the help of physical, occupational and speech therapy.
"(The disorder) affects development and balance," Laura said. "Lucia wasn't as as coordinated and didn't have the same balance as other kids."
Speech therapists told the Mirantis that some children are better at word association when dealing with photos instead of generic drawings. So it was Lucia who inspired her mother to invent Take a Pix.
Laura has sold about 2,000 albums for $19.95 each at www.boardbookalbums.com in the past 2 1/2 years. She hopes to get them in stores soon.
"Everybody is exited about it," she said. "It's a million-dollar idea, and I think it's just a matter of time (before sales take off). I'm very determined.
"It's a product that's fulfilling a need. It can enhance lives, and it's fun. What little kids don't want to flip through photos of themselves and their toys?"
For more unusual ways to make money, read how PickyDomains.com helps find a business name.
[Via - BND.Com]
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