Carmel Magazine

CM Winter 2016 Issue

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SHORTCUTS NEIGHBORS 74 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 6 M eet Mr. Hoots, Scout, Eukie and Bun Bun. No, they're not members of the latest tween-centric boy band. They're Pawdpets, the cute, cuddly and innovative product line created by Carrie Ushiba. She got the inspiration while on a family plane trip. "My daughter Madi wanted to watch a film on her iPod Touch," Ushiba recalls, "and asked me to hold it for her." The prospect of holding the iPod for an hour and a half wasn't all that attractive, but in true entrepreneur- ial spirit, it got her thinking: "What if?" "I started looking around and though there were plenty of cases on the market, there was nothing fun that a child could relate to," Ushiba says. She enlisted a local seamstress to stitch together a prototype cuddly bunny plush toy that would hold an iPod or smartphone and provide a way to carry and protect it. Madi carried it (it eventually became "Bun Bun") around and soon, Madi's friends were asking about it. "That's when I thought there might be something to this," Ushiba relates. After a year of extensive research, including a trip to the New York Toy Fair, Ushiba taught herself how to write business and marketing plans, learning how to take a product to market. She then hired Enlisted Design, an Oakland-based branding and design agency coincidentally founded by 1979 Carmel High School graduate Beau Oyler. "Carrie came to us with a challenge," Oyler says. "How do I create a plush phone protection product that kids will love? As a father, I was doing the same as she had; holding the phone for my kids to watch." Enlisted Design helped with branding, messaging, character development and manufacturing and developed a clever marketing campaign. With $30,000 raised via a 30- day Kickstarter campaign, Ushiba and Pawdpets were off and running. Pawdpets are available in Carmel at Thinker Toys and Zearly, at The Quill in Pacific Grove or online at —Michael Chatfield Local mother Carrie Ushiba created Pawdpets, characters that hold iPads and iPhones for children, protecting the devices and allowing hands-free watching. Her daughters Mia and Madi were her first testers, and Ushiba turned the smartphone accessories into a business. Photo: Kelli Uldall Local Woman Creates Children's Smar tphone Accessor y

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