Today’s guest has been on our wish list for a while and she DID NOT disappoint! Lindsey Laurain, the founder and creator of EZPZ fun is on today and she opens up to us about so many things — building the brand and beyond! For those that don’t know (if there are any, ha), ezpz creates innovative, developmentally-focused products that make mealtime less about mess and more about fun. Lindsey’s story starts like so many mom founders; she had a problem and there wasn’t a solution in the market, so she MADE IT! After years in the corporate world, she took the leap to find a solution to the constant mess she found around her during meal times with her little boys.
Lindsey gets into the nitty gritty details of creating a product, including numerous copy cats (some that led to legal action) as well as how she found her manufacturing partners. She also tells me how she brought on her best friends from childhood to join her team — and how they are still friends and working together! We finish with her diving into the insane trajectory of the company and how they have maintained their brand vision along the way. I am so grateful that Lindsey joined us to chat today and know you will LOVE hearing about her story and the brand.
Make sure to check out their AMAZING products (both functional AND adorable) on their site, and follow along on their Instagram.
Lindsey Laurain is the founder of ezpz and a wife and working mom to three wonderful, wild boys who serve as her inspiration, in-home product testers and ezpz models. Lindsey never imagined she would leave corporate America and become a mom entrepreneur, but so far the journey has been phenomenal (and tiring!). Every day Lindsey is inspired by community, positivity, giving back and, of course, her family and team. Lindsey is committed to hard work and fun! Although entrepreneurship has been a wonderful experience, starting a business from the ground up hasn’t been easy. The journey has taken Lindsey (and her team) on quite a roller coaster. From the
moment she started, though, Lindsey knew that quitting wasn’t an option. Through hard work, perseverance,
long hours, late nights and the support of her husband and team, it has made ezpz what it is today. Lindsey is proud of what she’s accomplished, and hopeless that ezpz is an inspiration to other entrepreneurs and moms with great ideas. ezpz has certainly taught her boys that you can do anything you put your mind to and the key is never giving up. Dream big!
ezpz creates innovative, developmentally-focused products that make mealtime less about mess and more about fun. Each product is tailored towards a specific age group and usage occasion, and the mat’s stable base helps baby/toddler to self-feed and meet key developmental milestones. ezpz aspires for family mealtime to be a HAPPY, positive experience where memories are made!
Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first I would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham, and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did. As the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans. I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from Health Insurance Program to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and newborn and two, but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos
Alright everybody, welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos I am here today with Lindsey Lorraine of EZPZ and my marketing director Lauren is behind the scenes like losing her mind right now because we are just we love this product and we are so excited to have Lindsay here to tell us her story. So Lindsay, welcome. Thank you so much for being here.
Lindsey: Thank you for having me.
Dana: Okay, so Lindsey, give us an overview of what you do currently, and then we’ll rewind all the way back to the beginning of your story.
Lindsey: Okay, well, I’m Lindsey. I am the founder of EZPZ and we make innovative developmentally appropriate feeding tools for kiddos from first views all the way up to really feeding independence and kiddos in the preschool age now.
Dana: I guarantee that most of you out there have seen her products somewhere on the internet either and you probably actually own some as well. I know we do. So I am so excited to bring this story to life and hear how this amazing product came to be. I know that as a mom, there’s so many times where you’re like oh I need something that works for this situation and nothing exists. So I am super excited to hear how you brought this to life. But first, an overview of how EZPZ came to be. But let’s talk about it all the way from the beginning. So what did your life look like before you became an entrepreneur before you became a mom, you know, your personal life, your career like what was going on? And did you ever even think that that could end up in the land of entrepreneurship?
Lindsey: Yeah, no, I absolutely never thought I would be an entrepreneur. So I spent my career in corporate America. I was actually working at Pfizer, or no, no, I was at I love Pfizer and I was at Pfizer got pregnant with our twins. And then I stayed at home for a little bit, went back to work. So I was at Humana actually health insurance company. Yeah. And then one night I dinner so we had three boys and we had two year old twins and a three year old at the time and they were just super messy and literally moving their plates all around and my husband was like Ah, there’s got to be a better way you know someone needs to invent something the kids can’t toss and throw. And so I was at work the next day and started looking online and just realize nothing existed at the time. And it’s hard because now it’s seven years later, but there was just like suction couples that were terrible and just wasn’t a big placemat in place. And so I came home and I was like, I’m going to start a company and create a product if anyone can do it, I can do it. And that was the beginning of EZPZ back in 2014. And so I was still at corporate America. I mean, I was still like Humana for about the first six months so I did um simultaneously for like starting the company. And then we launched six months after having the idea that night at dinner. Just crazy.
Dana: Wow, that is such a tight turnaround. That is crazy. That is like seriously such a tight turnaround, especially for a product based business because it’s not just you know, putting your idea together and getting it on the internet. Like there’s so much more that goes into it. So, talk to me about how I really the first thing that jumps out at me is okay, you’re working a full time job you have you know, at the time I guess two year old two and something changed twins and a new baby like how did you even think okay, sure. I have time to start a company and keep working and be a mom of three under three. Like how did that go?
Lindsey: Ah, well, to my personality. I just am very all or nothing. And I always say it’s a blessing and a curse kind of obsessive. So once I made up my mind like I’m doing this, I was just all in and I mean I taped a ball to a piece of paper. And really I the first thing I did was order the mom adventures handbook, which is it’s a great book online. I mean I got on Amazon I think it kind of gives you like the steps you need for running your business and you know setting up a website and how to find a manufacturer. So I ordered that I think I read it in like a day or two. And then I was calling like local manufacturers and just whenever I could so either you know at night really late or when I could during the day, you know and sneak away but I don’t know how I did it. I look back it doesn’t it wasn’t that hard, I think when I started but I look back and I’m like it was crazy. total chaos. It isn’t
Dana: it’s so funny looking back because you don’t eat I mean you realize that you’re busy like you realize there’s a lot going on, but sometimes there are seasons where you know you’re so determined to you know, in your case probably get the product out there. I felt the same way like about starting my business like you’re so determined to make it work that you don’t even realize how many hours you’re working and how much actual thought you’re putting into whatever you’re determined to get out in there there into the world. So I feel like looking back, it’s like well, how did I even do that? And you know, it’s it’s funny because when you’re in the middle of it, you’re not thinking hey, I should like write down what I’m doing to make this happen because I bet somebody is going to be struggling at some point. But do you remember anything from that time? That’s a good tangible tip for somebody that’s just like getting ready to launch and so excited about it, but you have 5 million other things to do at the same time.
Lindsey: Yeah, that’s that’s actually a great question. So I did take you know, I took a lot of notes like handwritten notes at the beginning of a big like notebook person. I still take I’ve so many notebooks full of notes, and it’s weird. I never looked back. I like take a lot of notes and I never looked back at them, but really helpful, but I want to make a movie one day of all of this and so I don’t remember a time. Like in my just the way I work too is when I’m obsessed with the project. I like get in this flow state and I’m like making all this stuff. And then I kind of do it. I’m done. I pass it on and I don’t really almost even like remember what I was doing in this weird way. And so actually we’re involved in like a litigation is the not fun part of the business and trying to recreate or remember what happened seven years ago is not always the easiest thing. But in general, I mean I was like following the book and I was doing everything you would logically think to like start your business and creating an LLC, and just a much more intense version. And like your point I never even it never felt like work. I loved it. I mean I just loved that beginning part. It was so exciting. And something unique with EZPZ is it’s all my friends and growing up from my childhood so when I actually had the idea of work, and just being in corporate America, I knew if I started my own business, I wanted to work with people I loved, you know, and that really they are my best friends. And so I reached out literally about two weeks after the idea to my two best girlfriends like from middle school. It was like I’ve got this idea. You know, it could be big do you think we could all work together and then sell the company and retire? And sure enough, they’re both on the team and so that that just makes it awesome. So it’s just you know, a great we’re still really small, so fun. Yeah, so fun. So And now everyone’s in Colorado when we started. One of my best friends was in London, actually in Europe, and then one was in California. And so over the years everyone’s migrated to Colorado, and we all work virtually still. But we’re all in Colorado which is pretty awesome. And we’re still small small team.
Dana: Yes Yeah, they have everybody like that all in the same area at least it does make a really big difference. You know, I’m definitely feeling the distance being across the pond and some but I feel like having people even just local even though we are being virtual, it does make you know a lot of your day to day occurrences very similar and there’s a lot that you can relate on that isn’t just about work. So it is interesting. So talk to me about starting a business with your two of your best friends like how have you guys managed to stay friends but be professional and operate a very large company at this point like what are some things that you could give some takeaways that you could give to people in your situation?
Lindsey: I think you know at the beginning when we started, there were so many people and because what happened with the mat is so I wanted this and I’ll get to this point but like I wanted this all in one and so our original product if you’re familiar with EZPZ products, it’s the happy mat so it’s geared for toddlers, it’s a large footprint. And I really wanted something that was like all you could all catch the mass in you could carry something that is seeing. I didn’t want the kids to be able to throw the ball or plate so it was really just kind of all about less mess more fun at the beginning. And it I didn’t I never anticipated the mats would self seal and what I call the suction function it like they do and so if you’ve seen an EZPZ mat, you can put it on the table and you can literally like not get it off the table or lift really heavy tables up. And that was really just a happy accident to be honest from the guy who made me the prototype in his garage. And so we there was all of this excitement. I know it’s just a crazy story and so I took it I mean I got a peek Canvas the first prototype I taped a molded piece paper. I knew I love silicone silicone was like a nerd and no mold or fungus could grow on it and it’s all the reasons it’s resistant to heat and it’s safe and high quality doesn’t fade. So I love silicone. I got a paint canvas to like a white paint canvas. I went to Michael’s and bought it and then I just taped a bowl to the center of it. And this guy in his garage dropped like made it with liquid silicone and made a mold and then he pulls it out of the malls. We got it home and then we could like lift tables and we were all freaking out you know so excited, like oh my god, because I thought it was awesome. Just the all in one like I need a placemat and my kids cannot take the ball, you know the bowl sticks to the mat or whatever. So at the beginning there was all of this excitement and just the time in kind of this phenomenon, like with the mad and just social media, all of it, that we had so many people reaching out at the beginning, and everyone has an opinion or like tells you what you can and can’t do like you’re going to need money you’re not going to do this. And so everyone’s like don’t work with your friends or you’ll ruin your friendship and so and I just say that of like don’t listen to everyone’s opinions. I mean, a lot of a lot of business partnerships do fail. Absolutely. But I think we’ve proven that one, if you like the people you work with work is just so much better. I mean, because again, we do a lot of fun things but we do a lot of not fun things legal side and just counterfeits and copies there’s a lot of like not fun stuff. But if you love who you work with, it doesn’t matter the task you’re doing it’s just you love what you’re doing. And we you know going back to like middle school and elementary school age, we just have this like, level of trust, that we all really trust each other. We don’t have egos in so we don’t you know, there’s not if you if when people listen to our conversations, they’re like, oh my god, you guys are mean to each other. But we’re just kind of like we move we don’t offend each other. We want what’s best for the company. And so we’re just very efficient and I think just with like trust and you know, we’re all ourselves, you know, good, bad and all of it that we’ve had been able to make it this far really and just in I think I’m so grateful for the team and I think the team so grateful that they get to do this, because it’s a great environment. I mean, in the point of your podcast, we all did come from corporate America, you know, working, going to an office every day. And so now that we all have just the flexibility of you know, you can just get your job done. I don’t ever I don’t care where anyone works and where they’re working from and what hours they’re working. You know, we don’t even have vacation days. I mean, we just everyone trust each others that they’re just going to do their job and get their job done. That was a really long answer. Sorry.
Dana: No, no, that was a great answer. I think that it’s awesome because, you know, they you know, having the uncap vacation days is something such a huge perk now for so many companies that they’re starting to roll out but I feel like you being able to structure yourself like that because you just you’ve known each other for the majority of your lives. I think that’s just such a great way to be able to start something like that and really make it work for you guys. So I am so happy for you because you know, I actually have had a couple of dual founder type situations, friendships that have turned into partnerships and business and my examples mainly have been good ones are that we’ve had on the podcast and I think it’s really encouraging to hear stories of people who have made it work because you just don’t hear that as often obviously it’s not quite as juicy of like, you know, the gossip train but it is it is really encouraging for those that are looking to do it and I think that sharing the story makes such a big difference. So thank you for saying that. Okay, so you go to your friends, I’m gonna back up a little bit again. So you go to your friends and you say, Okay, I have this idea. It’s awesome. What do you think? Do you think we can do this? What did everybody think? What did your husband think at the time like, Well, how did everybody take this news? Were they totally on board did it take some convincing? Like, how did you go from zero to 60 in six months?
Lindsey: Yeah, I think you know, my personality is pretty much like I just I had this belief from the beginning. And so like the example I made this prototype before, so I bought them on and betters handbook it had in the book you can order like you can find it on Amazon. They’re like little plastic beads, it looks like a bag of rice. And you put it in boiling water and it turns into like a you can mold it so I got a rolling pin out and I rolled out it was like plastic that when it’s hot, you can mold it and then it turns to hard plastic. And so I put a bowl inside of this thing. And so I wish like you could see but it was like an all in one plastic and it’s terrible. But it showed like my concept of the all in one bowl. And I would take that and I had like an NDA and I’m like I’ve got this idea this all in one. I mean, it was terrible. And so I don’t know what people thought at that stage. But very shortly after is when I actually met a local manufacturer here. And this is just like, I mean, just being a doer, like my advice to is I just Google like call the local manufacturer call them you know, hey, I got this idea. Like can I come and meet with you? Sure. Okay, I’ll see you in like an hour. I mean, literally, I went to you know, drove 20 minutes met with them. Super nice person and I just had great people at the beginning just kind of very kind people helping and he put me in touch with the guy who made it in his garage. And then when I got the silicone prototype, it was a white prototype and it did the self sealing and we were lifting cakes. I think that’s when people got really excited like wow, this has legs. There is something to this. And then I mean from the beginning and I don’t I you know, I set a plan and I was like we’re getting in Nordstrom and we’re getting a target. mean, that was like a month after the the idea I can’t just like my belief and like we’re making love that there. I mean it’s just almost insane. Like my business plans for Matt. And they thought I was nuts. I will say I remember Tamra is our COO and really I say the boss of EZPZ but we had gone into a giggle store and giggles not around anymore but it was a like high end boutique in LA and I went to LA and I was like we got to get a giggle and I had a prototype. It was like a crappy one from our Chinese manufacturer. And I was like talking to the store clerk there I was like so we’ve got this idea. I’d love to show it to you you know do you have any contacts and we walked out of there and she’s like you’re nuts. This isn’t how it works. Lindsay You don’t just like and I swear to God we ended up like getting a giggle a month later. I mean, it was almost like I want to like prove everyone wrong to have like, Okay, well. So yeah, they were supportive and even it just kind of worked out. They had just had babies, both of my two best friends. And so Christie in London was like, I just had a baby. I’m off for years, so sure I’ll help and Tammy who was she was at like PepsiCo and ConAgra she was like I’m on maternity leave so I can help you know with presentations and stuff. And then it just kind of evolved from there of just then when I could have it took a while to be able to afford people to and again I guess I should back up I mean I am so lucky because again I my best friends like working for free. committed that just doesn’t happen, you know a lot. And so that so then everyone’s kind of just on board and then it’s been really the same team since that very beginning. All the way up through present day.
Dana: That is so awesome. And it’s true, like obviously having somebody in London with a whole year of maternity leave is fantastic. But there are so many businesses that are born from a maternity leave. And it’s this time where you’re supposed to be off and like you know taking care of yourself and like getting to know your new baby but like there are so many of us that it was like nope, this is a sign that I need to change my life that I have something else that I want to do that I need to pursue. And look I have some free time even though really we probably there’s probably could have been other things I could have done then you know start a business and the 90 days I was off of work but it is so so true that there’s luck in the timing but also you never would have been able to do this without you know, some additional hands and the fact that their maternity leaves lined up at the same time that you had this idea is like absolute fate. And I think that if you are in a situation where you’re starting a business and you see that this timing might actually be really great. I need to capitalize on it, but you don’t necessarily feel ready yet. I think this is a great example of where like just hop in and take advantage of the good timing that you do have even if you feel like you might not be quite ready to do it. I think that being a go getter like Lindsey is definitely gonna help you make it pretty far.
Lindsey: Absolutely. And I think even in just being flexible and I have realistic expectations or so like Christie, who is in London, she was off but she was like, I’m kind of going crazy. I want to put my daughter in, you know, daycare just for a few days a week so I can like have two days by myself. So like at beginning I was like okay, I’ll pay for clothes daycare, you know, I mean barely any money but enough like literally I’m just paying her so she can have like two days of not having a kiddo aspire, you know. So again, that’s how it kind of started, right? We don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s working now. So let’s figure out to make the way to make this work for everyone now, and that’s kind of I mean, that’s been the whole thing to have. You know, you want people to enjoy what they’re doing and and be invested and so yes, I timing is absolutely everything.
Dana: 100% Okay, so we have the timing setup, you have your prototype, you start to kind of go around and start talking to stores like what were the next steps that you did to really get your business off the ground.
Lindsey: Yeah, so I saw we found a manufacturer in in China and I wanted to manufacture the US. That’s why I was meeting with local manufacturers. But silicone is really expensive. So because it’s high quality and it’s so durable, that he was like it’s gonna be impossible to do it in the United States. So I ended up finding a manufacturer overseas. They’ve been our same manufacturer since that first prototype and our only manufacturer, which is pretty phenomenal. Like they become just wow. Yeah, I’m just so fortunate again, from a timing perspective. And I will also say like, advice I could give is trust your gut. I just I’m a very big person about intuition and the mommy guide. All of that is so real. And so we actually found like a manufacturer and I sent him some stuff and I’m like, I’m not feeling very good about this. So I found someone online and he was like, stay away from that manufacturer put me in touch with this manufacturer. So we ended up getting the manufacturer and then they made us prototypes in the prototypes. The second prototype was the prototype and went to market with so it was an in between that though I got a prototype made here and then I got a wood prototype, I mean lots of like prototyping and kind of jury room with that. And then you know, setting up a website and creating an LLC and a brand and a logo and just being scrappy, like I used 99 designs is a website that it’s designers all over the world that can like bid and create logos and designs for you. And that’s actually how we got our logo, you know, and so just being kind of really scrappy and creative at the beginning because we had no money. So we were self funded, we’re still self funded, you know, so I’m putting in, you know, just our little bit of money that we had, and then found a graphic designer which really helped just bring the brand to life, you know, in creating our graphics and all of that. And then we launched on Kickstarter, so a crowdfunding campaign six months after kind of that night at dinner. We also launched in the ABC Kids Expo, so there’s a retailer trade show for juvenile kids products. And so, I mean, this was like, right after the idea I started just like, again, I’m just so obsessed, and so obsessive at the beginning, but looking at other you know, trade shows and where to launch and how do you launch a product and who is who in the industry and so we went to the ABC Kids Expo and launched in like the invention connection. It’s an area for inventors, and just got a lot of great feedback, right right at the beginning and you know, I met with byebye baby at that show. And Shark Tank was at that show and then our Kickstarter campaign got funded and again that was with a happy man so the bigger Matt with a smile face and then it was kind of like off and running. I after we got funded on Kickstarter, I quit my job. You know if that then it was like almost it really be turned. It turned real. I was always like, I liked the part. It’s harder once you have the company and then you’re filling orders and then that’s a whole nother chapter. Right? Yep. So then that and then that’s and then the rest is kind of history. So then we started with the mats and now we’ve evolved. I mean, we can talk about that all you know, with innovation, and the brands just evolved a lot over the last six years or seven years.
Dana: It’s such a cool story because you know, in any joke it is it actually is so true just sitting here thinking about it like the prepping and launching and building of a business before there’s the actual business is cooked two completely separate lives like I don’t even remember like there are so many things that I don’t even remember about that part where like people really didn’t know that this was a thing yet like before the before I was actually running my business but you feel like it’s a full time job and you feel like you’re doing you are doing all these things, but it is a totally different life than what you can expect once your business is off the ground or your product as a launcher launched or whatever it may be but it’s so funny that you said that because I hadn’t really thought about it that way but it’s so true like your life does look so different from you know that a section of of building to the B section of actually selling your product and growing your company. So what we’re so the Kickstarter gets funded like how did you really like go to market what was like the biggest thing that kind of made you guys have success right there in the beginning after the Kickstarter was funded and you guys were getting off the ground.
Lindsey: Yeah. And so like timing to you know, at that time, Facebook was a lot bigger. And so we just had this like platform where we were sharing a lot of our stories so when we got the mats, you know the mats, we they showed up to our house I think we only five or 7000 mats. You know when we make videos of like mats and unloading all the boxes and then we move to a warehouse. We have like this community actually from the beginning of moms, and that’s, you know, saw how well the product works, I think too, and just within the special needs community. That was another thing that kind of came out. When we were on Kickstarter. I started getting messages and we actually got a message from Dharan, our speech language pathologist. She’s on our team now full time, but she reached out and she’s like I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I you know deal with kiddos with feeding challenges and your products gonna just change so many people’s lives like I’ve been duct taping bowls to tables, and I get the chills every time I say it. So at the beginning it was such a big focus for us was how can we get this product really within the special needs community because there’s such a good benefit for these kiddos. So can we serve a palsy can hold on to the mat and independent needs. So the big push for us at the beginning was just learning about that. I mean, we became like we were doing changing the face of beauty and it kiddos with Down syndrome were on their advertising and the letters I was getting from parents about just their blind kiddo was now eating I mean just very moving. You know I we made the product for our boys never thinking we would impact so many people’s lives.
Dana: That just must feel amazing.
Lindsey: Oh it’s I mean it’s still is and even now with our comp and stuff. I can talk more about the product line but just Yeah. So that and then I think it was just this kind of like moment mentum and organic movement in the timing of it. So we launched on Kickstarter. And then we got in Nordstrom fairly soon after that, I think in May of the following year. So we launched in like September of 2014. Nordstrom was our first big retailer. And then I mean we believe followed with byebye baby shortly after that. And so we just we got into you know retailers early on and then on our website and so it was just kind of a snowball and we didn’t have you know, a big budget at all. So it was a lot of just like word of mouth and people sharing because the platforms allow people to do that. And so so it was kind of just this like really nice. I like to say like a hockey stick growth, you know, charge but we really did grow. To put in perspective. We started first year, we did 170,000 So that was like Kickstarter and our website. The second year we did 1.7 million, which was pretty exciting, right? And then the third year, that’s just a small difference. 37 million. So it was just a no and not like having funding right. And so still, you know, I own 100% of the equity. So I’m just again, I mean and then the next chapter of that was we had all these copies and counterfeits that was like really, really hard actually. So that was like probably the hardest parts of the business. It was very hard and like 17 and 18. So we launched in 14 1516. We are like just growing and everything like the math and there was so much exciting and just there was a lot of excitement. And then the copies and counterfeits started coming out and then I got involved in a lawsuit, which I’ve been dealing with for five years now. So that really kind of took my focus of like, oh let’s build on innovation in this you know, to how can we protect this brand and protect what we’ve built. And so a lot of my energy was focused I mean, those were very hard years to because we were spending just I mean over a million dollars a year litigating and dealing with copies and not being able to spend you know the money we wanted on growing and marketing and advertising and then dealt with that. Got an enforcement team and lawyers, lots of legal, got that under control and then really started innovating and kind of just growing the EZPZ brand in our mission, which I can talk about if you like.
Dana: Yeah, so Okay, so hold on. I do want I just want to touch one more thing on the litigation and copies just really quickly and then I have some questions about the innovation innovative part of it. So with this had you ever experienced in any or any anybody in your team? Have you guys ever experienced in corporate life anything like that like having these copycats where you’re really seeing it affect your sales and your product like how did you even deal with that not not on a legal level but on a personal level? Like how did you deal with that mentally because I just like I’m starting to sweat just listening to you talk about this like it is stressing me out. I’m like all protective of you and we just met and I am like all upset about it. So how did you how did you get yourself and your team through that mentally?
Lindsey: Well, that’s a great question. So I’ll actually take you back to that time, which was crazy. So we had the first copy we ever had. Well, one I literally said because everyone’s like, Oh, you’re gonna get cut, people are gonna copy and I was like, I’m a mom like no one’s gonna copy me like I’m a mom. Like, why how would someone copy a mom but if you just fix like, you don’t don’t do that. That’s so rude. I’m like, oh, no, you don’t do and that doesn’t mean. I mean, it was like who would do that? Like plenty of people. And so the first copy we saw actually was crazy. Someone had made like, you know, invoke infomercials, if you see him on TV, it’s like you have spilt milk. And it’s like you need this silly mat. I mean, if you can kind of picture that ad. So someone had sent me like a mom had gotten this email that knew my brother’s like soccer. She sent me the email and it was our entire product, our kids our messaging, but it was called like the silly mat and they took our video and they pasted over my face and used our video but it was like my I was it was it was insane. We were at the park with our kids and I was like oh my god, it was the first one that was like real and just so that sucks.
Dana: So that’s just not copying your idea that’s copying like your entire branding and messaging and actual work.
Lindsey: Yeah, and kids. I mean now the hardest part for me at the beginning. That’s where I was going to go is so then they that would that was a USPS company. We actually found them we got the website and like talk to these people. And they ended up shutting the website down because of copyright just from the copyright standpoint. But really shortly after, you know, all of like the Chinese manufacturers started coming out and my thing was our kids were everywhere. And that I was it was a terrible time. I mean it was it was every day was all I was dealing everyday people were sending copies all day trying to get a handle and we had some IP but then none some of them didn’t register and then figuring all that out. It’s so it did suck. I mean I have emails of just and yeah, so it was really really hard. Now it’s much easier and then he got to like my friends, kids, we would photograph our friends kids because our kids were getting older and then our my friends kids were all showing up everywhere. And I felt worse about that, you know, just because I’m like, Ah, that sucks. So that sucked. And I just terrible. So the copies and counterfeits we got that a little bit of your control, for the most part. And then we are big baby manufacturer, what I believed was copying us. And at this time we had a pending utility pads. So on that suction function the ceiling of the mats and had not registered but we filed for utility pad hoping it would go through. And so the big company came out and put out mats in our community actually. So all these moms started commenting on the big company like this is a copy, you know, you’re ripping off a small business, that kind of stuff and they didn’t really like that. So they actually sued they preemptively sued Lindsey Lorraine and EZPZ for like unfair trade competition and asking for a declaratory judgment saying like they don’t infringe anything, even though we didn’t have a utility patent that was in June of 18. Yeah, and we actually just went to trial on that like a month ago. It’s actually all the only been working on this last week. And that is such I mean, we could have a whole podcast on that but that is a very long story. I don’t want to bore you that so they preemptively that soft, just in getting sued personally I mean they ruthless and so I got dismissed personally. Then we ended up getting our utility patent a few months after they sued us. So then we countersued them for utility, patent infringement and design pad infringement because they had mats that looks very similar in similar colors. And I also found out this big baby company was just That’s kind of you know, their business model in general is a lot of mom entrepreneurs. This company has copies. So at the beginning of this suit, I was kind of like you cannot do this. You’re copying all these people and you’re running them out of the out of the market. I mean, it’s it’s it’s sad because I we’ve kind of made it through all of this. But there’s a lot of companies that haven’t you know, when we started because you got a big company that just, they’re already in Target and Walmart and they can copy you and they instantly have distribution. And so I actually put a lot of those companies in our initial suit trying to be like, you can’t keep doing this. So that was challenging and then count and then being in a patent infringement case. Patent infringement is really expensive. So that was kind of those those hard years when we were spending like a million dollars litigating. And they were taking, you know, market share away from our masters. It just kind of was all encompassing, but we rode the wave and, you know, the market. So from a copy standpoint, it is just, you know, it’s grown and it’s kind of settled. So like when we started, there was not a lot of silicone products just in general. But there wasn’t like Nordic and you know, we have really pretty colors and they’re stylish and none of that really existed at all. When we started like we were the first grey mat and so now seven years later, I mean, you could find a gray silicone batter bowl in any color, the market is just really saturated and grown. But over the last seven years, like we’ve emphasized the brands and we can talk more about that and quality and building developmentally appropriate products that we’ve like our market share in the mat, for the Mac products is like stable and our innovation is just doing really, really well. And so as a company, we’ve been able to like get through all of those challenges, and now we’re starting to see with our cups and our spirits and the copies of that much easier, you know, seven years in dealing with that than it was you know, when we started for sure.
Dana: I love that I feel like it should give you at least a little bit of confidence and like okay, we know what to do, right? We know this is going to happen. We know that we’ve come up with a genius product that technically is replicable. Like, yeah, you could somebody else could make that but you’re the ones that did it first. Like I love that. Even though it’s been so hard, you have the outlook of like okay, we now know how to handle this and we’re gonna be able to better handle it on the back end. So that kind of brings me to what what I wanted to ask about the innovation so you guys are coming out with all these new products. So does this come from a team? Does this come from you? Like do you consider the success and where you’re taking your company to come from like a creative talent that you have or an innovative talent or is it just resourceful like, what is the personality trait that you have? That’s made this pivot into the other parts of this market successful so far?
Lindsey: Yeah, so two things I think just from like an entrepreneur standpoint, from a personality standpoint, I’m just like, you know, I’m passionate and I’m very positive. Like I’m a dreamer. Tammy on our teams, the dream killers, so there’s just a good dynamic of that from a personality standpoint, I’ve got like, the innate characteristics that generally I think serve well from entrepreneurship. But from a company standpoint, I think why EZPZ has done so well is so when when we started and we did the math right, and I reached dawn our speech language pathologists reached out and said like, Oh, you’re gonna change lives with kids, blah, blah, blah. She gets on our team in really shortly after I started learning just about product development and feeding milestones and as a consumer, as a mom before EZPZ when I walked into any store, whether it be a big box store and shopping online, I assumed any spoon or cup that was being sold towards babies, like if you’re going to target and you’re buying a spoon that’s on the shelf, like every company has a feeding specialist and a speech language pathologist who’s designing their products. And I like again, I assume from a consumer standpoint, like of course you’re this the size of a spoon has got to be tailored to a six months old. And I quickly realized that does not exist. So and again, it’s now evolved more, but I feel like we are the trailblazers and like the messaging on that but at that time, seven years ago, it was you know, and I could show you what I was using to feed my kids and the spoons, I mean, huge spoon heads, big cuts, nothing was designed specifically for kids at that age and that developmental milestone, and it was like I knew like parents deserve better kids deserve better. There’s a better way and you have all these medical professionals who know what is required, right? The size of a spoony Angelo for a six month old or 18 month old, the size of a spoon had like sensory issues. So Dawn, came on board and she is so passionate about it, but started designing all of our innovation. And so from a company standpoint, we really we started out right it was me I twins I wanted life to be easy, less mass more fun. That was our tagline like, I want you to be able to take this mat throw it in the sink have it look pretty on your calendar, make it less messy save parents hassle. Now our company standpoint is really is developmentally appropriate products for kids so they can be independent eaters. From six months all the way up to you know, preschool, and we want to give them the tools to succeed to be independent eaters and so are now our line for first foods. So we got the tiny bowl, which is again is the self sealing technology, which keeps kids in a safe position because they’re not moving around and the body is not moving all around to catch the ball and you want kids seated correctly when they’re eating. So like I recommend getting a great highchair, proper feet positioning. And so our mats keep kids centered in a midline what we call it, but then the tools so like the spoons are tiny spoons are designed so it’s a short round handle. The head of the spoon, what I’m saying is like two thirds of an infant’s tongue and it’s got sensory bumps so they kids, it’s a natural choke guard, and six months old, it’s a developmental milestone that kiddo should be dipping. And so we’re giving parents and kids the tools to eat independently to meet those milestones. So tiny spoon helps with dipping. Then we’ve got the tiny cup which again is designed every detail by dawn, the size of the cup, the hand is for their tiny little hands. Intuitively it’s a development a milestone kids want to drink from an Open Cup and it’s good for their speech development. And so and I never knew this, my kids were definitely not drinking from an Open Cup. I mean, we use sippy cups, we kind of did everything wrong, and they still turned out okay. But the Open Cup Drinking was just not big before EZPZ . And so we again want to give these kids these six months old tools and they’re drinking independently from a little you know, two ounce cup and it’s working on their speech development. And so I think that’s what really separates us apart is the products are designed in so much design goes into them and so much testing and we get them these products and so many kids hands. I mean, Diane is a therapist, so she sees a lot of kids when we go into daycares. And so it’s just so thoughtful and it’s like very internally focused, we focus on like, you know, now we’re finishing out our feeding line. But what tools do now you need, now that we have a tiny line, you go to the mini line and that’s for you know, nine to 12 months old. And so then we just launched like the mini utensils, and that’s for piercing with a fork because kids at 12 months old to learn how to Pierce and so I mean I could go on and on talking about all the products but it is so again just very intentional tools to really help create independent eaters, I guess, and they’re safe and they’re high quality and they’re stylish. I think all that stuff helps. But I think the story and just the thoughtfulness of these products, I hope and people can see it and they’re high quality and you know, we just we do our best. Yes, that was very long. Sorry.
Dana: No, don’t be sorry at all. This is like exactly the story that I want you to be able to tell because you’re right. It’s not just you know, again, we’ve talked about the copycats and everybody can copy something you know, as long as they figure out how to make it but it’s not going to be the quality. It’s not going to be that highly tested and it’s not going to work with their other products the way your products work together. I love how concise your website is and how it really shows like hey, you can buy this you can search by age, you can search by color, like you can search by sets and I think that’s so thoughtful too because it shows that you’re trying to make this a cohesive journey for parents as they’re raising their kids and trying to do it you know the quote unquote right way whatever that may be today, because we all know as a parent that the right way seems to change so often, but I just love that all these are backed by someone who is a professional and knows exactly what these kids need at a developmental stage in their life. So talk to me about how you really did bring dawn on in in particular because obviously like you know your your products were doing well before she came on like what made you kind of realize like oh, this is exactly what we need. This is where we need to take the brand in this direction because it came it started off as a you know very practical I want to be clean and not messy. This is why we’re going to build this and turn it into this incredibly, incredibly helpful tool for for moms and kids developmentally, I mean that’s a pretty big, that’s a pretty big jump. It’s a great jump but it is a pretty big swing. So how did you actually kind of come into that?
Lindsey: Yeah, I think Well it started just a game within the special needs community and Dawn reaching out because she saw the happy mats. And she when she joined the team, it was all maths and really just based on read the stableness of the maths, but then it dawned kind of in hearing her frustration of just like the lack of good products available so like straw cups. So we just launched our mini cup and straw and led and you know, there just wasn’t a lot of good like cup options outside of like the standard plastic sippy cup. And so Dawn, her frustrations just from like, these products should exist, this is what I need and they don’t really exist. So having that kind of mindset, you know, I want to create these and then you know me having the company and the passion to carry this forward. So I mean, Don is just as passionate about making Cheetos drink from an Open Cup and not a sippy cup and really from this like medical standpoint from a speech language, you know, like it helps with speech. And so I just think it was just this natural. I don’t want to say marrying, there is a need for these products. So these kids can meet developmental milestones from a feeding standpoint, right in a speech standpoint. And so being so passionate about that and then of course us being passionate about wanting to help parents. It just it just made sense. And we kind of just evolved from there. And Dawn eventually moved to Colorado, and she still does work in a private practice with speech language pathologists, but she spends a lot of time working with EZPZ I’m not only developing our products, but writing weekly blogs as well. And so I mean, I think it’s been six years but we’ve produced, you know, one to two blogs a week for the last six years. Wow. And so just being really consistent too, I think. Yeah, so we are so I’m so grateful to have Dawn she is just she loves what she does and educating about these products. And so it’s just been a great team. I mean in so the innovation and it’s doing so well our mini cup and straw is just we can’t keep it in stock. And so it’s kind of similar to like what happened when we launched the mini man as well. It’s just it’s doing really, really well and so, you know, she’s just excited. That she’s like making a difference in the medical world and kids are drinking out of straws. And so it’s just it’s awesome. It’s a really fun time and EZPZ now and we’ve got so much good information coming out. It’s awesome. It actually is really fun.
Dana: And if you’re listening and you haven’t checked out the EZPZ website, the cups that she’s talking about, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life like these are the like they have done such a good job of first off making it just right developmentally but oh my gosh, like aesthetically, this is just the cutest thing ever. I will tell you I was one of the OG not Oh gee, but as soon as I had a kid like 2016 and you’re golden years I was when those fake mats were coming out I bought the original I have it still still five years later it is in a drawer and I made it all the way to Turkey. So I am thrilled that this is doing so well for you guys because it is it’s an incredible product and again, five years later, after countless numbers of you know, spaghetti dinners it’s made it through. So what Lindsey Can you give us just a little bit of advice for anybody who is looking to build a product based business that is you know, dealing with any of these struggles you’ve had like how can they keep going mentally with all the different hurdles that product based business offers?
Lindsey: That’s what we’re supposed to be doing whether you know and it’s not easy but if you get through it and so I just I’m never kind of mad about the situation where I’m like it’s where we’re supposed to be at that’s made it a little bit easier for me to to overcome some of those challenges but again Yeah, I mean I think the power of belief is real and perseverance and not quitting I think is is a big one too. And then just like having a great community and getting to do these I love being able to tell our story which is is fun, so I appreciate the opportunity. But you know, follow your dreams. I think any I really do anything’s possible.
Dana: Awesome. I love that so much and I just love your energy like anybody listening to this if you are get done with this listening to this podcast episode, and you’re not like ready to hop into your business like face first. I don’t I don’t know what to tell you because this is so been so energizing and so exciting. I’m thrilled you came on so thank you so much for sharing all your experience and wisdom with us. And I can’t wait to get this out into the world.
Lindsey: Awesome. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. This has been fun.
Dana: All right, Lindsey. Thanks so much. And we’ll chat with you soon.
Lindsey: Okay, bye bye.
Dana: I am so honored. You spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble. About living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you learn more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidst the chaos podcast calm For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it will mean the world to me and my family. If you take the time to read it. Thanks for joining me amidst the chaos