Senseez Pillows, Montreal, QC, Canada

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company:Senseez Pillows, Montreal, QC, Canada
Company Description:Senseez Pillows manufactures, sells, and distributes colorful, fun-shaped vibrating cushions for kids that relax, calm, or soothe the body, helping some kids sit still and others fall asleep. Senseez Pillows are distributed by several major toy and special needs vendors and have received notable awards in both industries.
Nomination Category:Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category:Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Consumer Products –10 or Less Employees

Nomination Title:Stephanie Mitelman, President, Founder and Inventor

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated entrepreneur since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

Stephanie Mitelman is the president, founder, and inventor of Senseez Pillows. These colorful, fun-shaped vibrating cushions offer a gentle sensation when they are squeezed or sat on, relaxing, calming, or soothing the body. The light vibration can help some kids sit still and others fall asleep.

After Stephanie’s son was diagnosed with a special need and a large, plug-in vibrating mat helped him sit still and focus with family, friends, and teachers, she saw the need for a portable vibrating cushion that was a fun, kid-friendly shape and wouldn’t call negative attention to him. Learning that this product didn’t exist, she created it herself and set out to help other kids like her son. With her experience as president of an online publisher and a special needs mom, Stephanie was able to establish Senseez as a name in the special needs community in just 3 years, helping thousands of kids around the world.

Stephanie’s leadership and knowledge of the special needs and toy markets have led sales to increase over 250% since last year. In just 3 years since the company began, she has reached over $170,000 in sales annually in a specialized industry, a significant increase from last year’s $65,334 in sales.

Since last summer, Stephanie also announced Senseez’ 120th distributing partner and released a line of plush pillows aimed at sensory-seeking children like her son. Under her direction, the company began distributing through key players in the toy and special needs industries, including Toys “R” Us and Flaghouse.ca. Many of this year’s new distributors demonstrate international recognition, with new vendors in Bermuda, Australia, and Ireland helping to bring Senseez to 7 countries worldwide.

Under Stephanie’s supervision in product design, Senseez have also received over 10 awards in the last year, including Dr. Toy’s 10 Best, and Creative Child Magazine’s Product of the Year. This approval from trusted organizations in the toy and special needs industries helped secure new distributors and make Senseez a recognized name among families with children who have special needs.

Thanks to Stephanie’s efforts and connections, the company has also added to research on the sensory needs of children in the last year. The National Lekotek Center, administrator of the special needs toy testing organization Able Play, studied the benefits of vibration on children by giving families Senseez Pillows. They found vibration helped 70% of the children involved focus, and 93% of parents said they'd continue using Senseez. This valuable research has helped parents and teachers find a new aid for children with special needs, contributing to a 212% increase in sales in the quarter after it was released, compared to the previous year.

Stephanie brought the company to last year’s tipping point in popularity by using her own experience as a special needs mom to recognize and match what parents, teachers, therapists, and others are looking for in toys and special needs products: proven results, positive awards and reviews, and a product that makes life easier for children. Thanks to her efforts, people working to help children with special needs and larger distributors like Toys “R” Us have recognized the benefits of Senseez Pillows.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated entrepreneur (up to 125 words):

Stephanie is the president and inventor of Senseez Pillows. In 2012, her son was diagnosed with a special need and a large, plug-in vibrating mat helped him sit through meals and circle time. She saw the need for a small, portable, kid-friendly pillow that gave similar sensations. Soon after, Stephanie sewed prototypes and started using her experience supervising a publishing company for 10 years and teaching at McGill and Concordia universities to sell Senseez and help thousands of kids like her son.

Stephanie used her understanding of the needs of moms like herself to target marketing, distribution, social media, and advertising where she knew families, teachers, and occupational therapists would be looking. In 3 years, she took Senseez from prototypes over $170,000 in sales.