When Virginia mom Casey Burke Bunn forgot her daughter’s mittens on a ski trip, she put a pair of socks on the tot’s hands. The socks stayed on all day, the girl’s hands stayed toasty, and the resourceful mom turned her idea into a successful startup.
Using equity lines, credit cards, and a loan from family members to fund the startup, Casey created Handsocks, a line of multi-functional mittens for babies and toddlers. Inspired to create cozy, comfortable, and functional mittens that require no fasteners or straps to stay in place, Casey found that her mittens not only keep tiny hands warm and prevent fingernail scratches on precious newborn skin, but they also protect against irritation of casts, ports, skin conditions, and wounds in special medical situations.
“When parents figure out how useful they are, I have had some buy as many as 6 to 7 pair,” says Casey. “Seeing all those little babies super cozy in their Handsocks is so much fun. Every photo of a baby in Handsocks lights up my life.”
Running the successful retail business isn’t all baby smiles and giggles, especially during the busy holiday sales season. Making sure she can get enough inventory stocked into the Amazon warehouse is a big worry for Casey, who is often waiting on delivery of units and underestimating how quickly she’ll need to get more stock during busy times.
“My product is hard to make. I can’t call the factory and have them shipped this week. The opportunity cost of being out of inventory was a real bummer last year so we made sure to stock up and be ready this season,” shares Casey, who says going into debt to make such investments can be stressful, but necessary.
Casey’s advice to other small retailers: you have to forecast pretty well to make sure you can capitalize on all the opportunity there is for you, particularly during the holiday season. “Nothing ever goes exactly as planned,” she says. When it comes to competing with big box retailers, she doesn’t. “I’m just focused on myself; there’s no way I can compete. I’m focused on making the best product I can and reaching as many parents and babies as I can in a positive way as quickly as I can,” says Casey.
In addition to her ambitious sales goals, Casey is also focused on giving back on a global scale. Handsocks donates to Orphan’s Promise each time a pair is sold. The charitable organization provides education, food, medical care, and shelter to orphans in the U.S. and around the world.
“I often get notes from parents whose babies need Handsocks for a special or medical reason, too, and it makes it worth all the hard work knowing I have helped,” shares Casey who hopes to reach 100 million children worldwide with her product and giveback programs. “Every child deserves a safe, loving, and happy childhood,” she says.
Virginia ranks No. 7 on Lendio’s 2018 Top 10 Best States for Small Business Lending. Learn more about why the Old Dominion State is such a thriving hub for small business.