Elementary teacher Elaine Comeau just wanted to make it easier for students to stay on track and keep on the classroom schedule.
So she created cute pictures and simple instructions (brush teeth, make bed) for young minds to grasp and stuck them on the classroom wall – to make it easier for everyone to get through the day.
For several years, she did the same thing for parents of her students who constantly asked her to make “visual routines” for their homes – again to make it easier to get through the day.
Thus was born EasyDaysies, magnetic instruction boards and cards starting at $25 that organize the day and simplify a high-stress world.
The easy-to-follow formats not only help young readers, they assist adults and kids, with a range of disabilities, such as dementia, to organize their lives.
EasyDaysies is split about equally between each of the markets, says Comeau, who lives in an Albion townhouse with her husband Ron and three children.
That home also doubles as an office, assembly line, distribution centre and storage facility.
In the past three years, sales have jumped from $12,000 to $25,000, to a projected goal of $100,000 this year.
Elaine has taken a year’s leave of absence from teaching and spends most nights at the kitchen table, working until 3 a.m., packaging the product for distribution to customers.
“It’s really hard to keep up – on top of the kitchen table.”
The growth of the company has been a huge learning curve, moving from “mommy and a school teacher and now a manufacturer, accountant, sales rep, receivables, shipper, creative director, marketing director, and CEO,” she said in a news release.
But if she thought she’s been busy lately, maybe she’s seen nothing yet.
Last week’s airing of her product on the CBC’s Dragon’s Den saw website hits skyrocket to eight hits per second, even while the show was airing in eastern Canada.
“It was just wonderful to watch.”
The evening the show aired she sold another $2,000 of product and the day after, another $1,000.
The Dragons also liked what they saw, even getting into a bidding war for a piece of the action.
Elaine and her husband and three children wowed the cynics with their presentation and produced multiple offers before eventually settling on one from Kevin O’Leary and Jim Treliving, owner of Boston Pizza, for investing $70,000 for a 30-per-cent share in the company and 10 per cent of the royalties.
“EasyDaysies has shown great innovation in creating products that benefit both parents and children,” said Treliving.
“With a small boost, and some direction I can see this business really taking off.”
Since the show, background checks, or “due diligence,” has confirmed that the deal can go ahead, giving Elaine a chance to breathe.
Currently, her product is in about 70 specialty kids stores in Canada and a handful in the U.S.
That list excludes major retailers because Comeau just doesn’t yet have the productive capacity in her home.
With the Dragons signed on, their marketing and management expertise will allow her to ramp up production so she can supply major retailers instead of niche stores.
“It’s going to be a very long road.
“It’s not going to be an easy road.”
And that’s not even considering the U.S. market, which she hopes to tap next year, when she visits trade shows.
“The United States is a different ball park.”