Through the example of my dad creating and inventing, it not only taught me to think that way, but more importantly taught me some life lessons. My father is a chemist and I knew my dad was the coolest guy on the block, no probably in the entire world! He was always inventing ways for us to have fun.
We didn’t have many electronics and phones to keep us busy- so we learned to entertain ourselves with what he brought home to us! Inner tubes were awesome- he blew them up with the air compressor and we had our first trampoline! We then took it in our own hands to arrange them in different patterns so we could jump from one to another or stack them for games we made up. Another time he brought home 55-gallon steel barrels and we learned how to walk on top of them while they were rolling. Then we took it in our own hands again to put blankets inside and roll down the hill inside of them. (Our parent’s would not have said yes to this one!) Bringinghome thousands of large balloons was the best! For years we had an unlimited supply of water balloons! Dad loved teaching us “hands-on” about different chemicals like mercury and liquid nitrogen. Wow! A liquid can be turned into a gas in a split second! I love science and chemistry and didn’t even realize I was learning so much because it was always fun. Probably my favorite memory of my dad and his creativity was one time he upheaved our garden so we didn’t have to till it! My mom didn’t think that was nearly as awesome as the rest of us did!
While mixing different chemicals at work, Dad created a fun product for me and my siblings to play with. My 10-year-old hands loved trying to stretch this gel product that felt slimy but didn’t stick to me. My friends loved playing with the slime as well- we still talk about it and I even sold some of it at school. I watched Dad’s hobby of making this a fun toy for my family as he added fragrances and glow in the dark powder over the years. He even turned it into a fish bait business with a couple of his friends when I was attending college.
When I was 22 years old my dad asked me, my brother and sister, if we would like to turn the gel back into a toy. We thought that sounded like a fun adventure, so we decided to form a company and came out with our first product, Glow Dough. A stretchy, stringy, glow in the dark toy. I was married with one child and my family was my number one priority, so I knew that sometimes my new business would have to be put on the back burner. We created our toy business to be one that could be run from our home and garage so I could be home with my kids.
I took our new product to a toy store named Gregory’s Toys. The owner graciously bought some and helped me find toy reps throughout the USA to market my product. Finally, kids around the country could get their hands on what I had loved my hands in forthe past 12 years!
Having a home business was a great way to teach my kids to work. Starting at about age 3, all 6 of my kids learned how to snap on lids, stamp and label boxes, carry items to UPS, and try to be quiet while mom was on the phone.
There are other fun things my kids have helped me with– like being part ofthe process of creating a new product. First of all giving me ideas for a new product, watching my brother and I make a sample of it, giving it a name, helping decide what artwork is best and lastly, how to market the product. I have this amazing group of kids right in my own home to test market the toys, along with friends and neighbors.
Early mornings andlate nights, accounting, having employees, and lots of heavy lifting are some of the other things the kids have seen me deal with. They know it is not easy to run your own business and try to balance life. I’m so grateful my kids have been so patient with me their whole lives– I guess they have never known anything different. The business hasn’t made tons of money, but it has provided a living for us and I am so grateful for that. I have been able to wear different hats- be a mom and then some days be a “CEO”, talking with adults about things other than chicken nuggets.
Some of my kids are older now and have made resumes and applied for jobs. They write that they have worked since they were 3 in the family business and that always gives them something fun to talk about with the interviewer. All of my kids have entrepreneurial minds now. That’s usually a good thing, but I really need to thank all of my neighbors for being so kind to my kids when they have decided to do a bake sale or their own home-made version of a mini garage sale!
My husband and kids have continued to be my number one priority. The first 15 years I looked forward to one day being able to put a full daywithout interruptionsinto my work. I thought the day Melissa went to first grade I could put in a full 7 hours a day. I have learned a lot about expectations and goals in my life because that very day Melissa went to school, I was sitting in my kitchen having lunch by myself and crying. I missed her. The pivotal day of my life was here. But things change. My life took a path I didn’t expect at all that day. My husband passed away that day.
Once again I had to put my business on the back burner while I concentrated on what meant the most to me- my 6 kids. I will never regret putting time into them. Ever. Then I found Matt, a man who I absolutely adore and married. WOW- now I had 4 more people to concentrate on and add into my priority list. But I also had more people to help and support me in balancing my life.
My business is still here- growing and giving me adult conversations. I’m grateful to my buyers and distributors, my life-long friends, who have been extremely supportive of everything. This year marks our 28 year anniversary for Glow Dough and once again I’m ready to put a whole 7 hour day into it. I’m ready to invent more ways to have fun and learn as I grow!
Life is an interesting journey. I realize how my childhood helped shape me into the person I have become. I haven’t ever thought of myself as a creative person, but as I look back at how my dad taught me to think, maybe I am? I realize now everyone has creativity inside.I learned from my dad to make the best out of situations- change things as you go. If life gives you a steel barrel- roll with it. His example taught me how to create and showed me that change can be for the better if you make it that way. WE CAN BE BETTERif we make it that way! Let some things go orput them on the back burner if you need to. I hope I can be like my dad and be a good example to my kids of creating the life you want to live “hands-on”!
Rainbow Glow Dough