September 2006 | Vol. V - No. 9
|September 2006 | Vol. V - No. 9|
Toys Meet Toilet Training
Toilet Buddies Ease Potty Anxiety for Youngsters
Turning Adversity Into a Great Idea
It all began five years ago when a 10-day bout of food poisoning transformed this former financial industry executive into the toilet-training product guru of the new millennium. While purging his system — on the toilet — Lalicata wrote down his ideas. He showed them to his wife, Jessica, who encouraged him to go further. By the time he recovered 10 days later, he’d developed a 90-page business plan.
Then the real work began. Lalicata researched and studied everything he could find about toilet training. He found that the “experts” were focused on potty training, but weren’t looking at the toilet itself at all, he told TDmonthly. His research took him to Washington, D.C., where he presented his findings to more than 10,000 PhDs and doctors at the American Psychological Association. He was also key speaker at the 1st World Toilet Organization in Shanghai, China.
He identified two predominant views — one that kids should go whenever they choose and the other that kids should go whenever their parents choose.
Finding an Unmet Need
“We wanted to nail something in the middle,” Lalicata said. So, he developed the concept of decorating the toilet with a buddy, making it a welcoming seat, placing focus on the toilet itself rather than on books or charts.
Through rewards and encouragement, a toilet training toddler will eventually build his own Toilet Buddy. When a child does what he’s supposed to do while toilet training, a piece of the toilet buddy is added to the toilet. When he doesn’t accomplish the goal, a piece is removed. Eventually, the whole toilet buddy will be in place and the toilet training task is conquered.
The company has earned numerous awards and accolades for its toilet “toy,” including Product of the Year Award, 15 Minutes Magazine; Category Winner and Seal of Approval, The National Parenting Center; Product of the Week, Baby Atlas; and Preferred Choice Award, Creative Child Magazine. It was also one of TDmonthly’s favorite toys at Toy Fair 2006. (VIEW ARTICLE)
The four Toilet Buddies — Gatago Giraffe, Poo P. Bunny, Puddles Puppy and Ca Ca Cow — all easily adhere onto a standard toilet bowl with Velcro. The face of each character is displayed on the toilet tank, but when the lid is lifted, the animal’s face appears with closed eyes (for privacy!).
Marketing is a major portion of the business, and although Lalicata is a small toy maker, he understands that advertising is key. And he’s found a way to do it without a huge budget.
Home Movies = Free Press
Getting great press and media coverage and taking advantage of video-sharing sites have made all the difference in getting the word out and the product known. Since Lalicata has been documenting the story of Toilet Buddies on video, he has hundreds of hours of footage to share.
“We’re blasting these sites with these videos,” he said. “We’re on about 100 video sites.”
He’s also taken his product directly to consumers in a big way. In addition to shows, (Watch Video) he's made appearances with his toy-lets in such places at the White House and Buckingham Palace. And while he continues to market his product, he wants to keep it a specialty item for as long as possible.
“We want to help the masses,” he said, referring to organizations he’s involved with that work to improve the world. “We decorate toilets and make the world a better place. I believe it’s catching on and I believe it will be helpful.”
A lot of happy toilet-trained toddlers would agree. What follows is more information on Jeckida products.
Puddles Puppy’s cute face lets little kids befriend their toilet bowls. Toilet Buddies Toilet Bowl Attachments help create early awareness of the toilet bowl, reduce fear and anxiety, and make toilet training a fun and positive experience. Puddles’ friends include Gatago Giraffe, Poo P. Bunny and Ca Ca Cow. Jeckida has a whole system of separately available toilet training items, including plush puppet versions of Puddles and his gang. He is ideal for ages 18 months to 5 years.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7180 (added 3/9/2006)
Toilet Buddies Toilet Bowl Attachments help create early awareness of the toilet bowl, reduce fear and anxiety, and make toilet training a fun and positive experience. Designs include Gatago Giraffe, Poo P. Bunny, Puddles Puppy and Ca Ca Cow. Each character’s friendly head is displayed on the toilet’s tank. The animal’s feet and other features adorn the rest of the toilet. Ca Ca Cow gives going to the head a whole new meaning. She and her buds are great for those way past toilet-training, too.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6006 (added 12/15/2005)
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Writer's Bio: Terri Hughes-Lazzell is a freelance journalist based in Ossian, Ind. After spending nearly a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, she has worked as a freelance journalist for more than ten years, writing about a variety of topics. Her work appears in newspapers, magazines and specialty publications nationwide. Read more articles by this author
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