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June 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 6




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Therapeutic Stuffed Animals Offer Function and Style

Warm Whiskers Plush Keep Warming Hearts


“Speak to people who have been there before you. If you talk to them with respect, they will be more than happy to help you out as much as possible.” David Sternlight, Warm Whiskers
When David Sternlight and his wife, Kyna, purchased Kits N’ Kaboodles from Founder Amy Ryan back in 2007, they knew what they were getting into. Amy had “grown the company through 2007 to be the industry leader,” David told TDmonthly Magazine, and he was determined to keep it that way.

RECOGNIZING A GOOD THING

The Sternlights immediately fell in love with the company and its product line: heating and cooling pads nestled inside adorable plush. Kits N’ Kaboodles soon became Warm Whiskers, with David as CEO and Kyna as president.

“We learned that our customers were interested in other functionalities as well,” David explained, leading Warm Whiskers to expand its line of neck wraps to include body wraps, body pillows, heatable slippers, eye and dream pillows, pocket critters, silk spa pillows and even products for pampered pets.

KEEPING THE FUN IN FUNCTIONALITY

The herbal heating and cooling pads are designed to snugly fit body contours to relieve tension, stress, aches and pains. Each lavender-scented plush contains buckwheat and flaxseed grains, which retain moisture well, deeply penetrating muscles, joints and tissue through moist heat therapy.

A lot of people mistake Warm Whiskers for plush sold at mall kiosks, but Warm Whiskers have “a different feel, comfort, cuteness [and] quality,” Sternlight told TDmonthly. “[We use] herbs and grains that stay warmer and colder longer.”

BRAND AND MARKET, THEN DO IT AGAIN

“Because the line is so versatile, we really can’t be shuffled into a certain category,” David said, emphasizing the diversity of the company’s customer list. Warm Whiskers runs the gamut from children’s stores to gift, pet and home and garden stores.

However, such a multi-functional product with broad appeal can be challenging to describe. Some storeowners have placed microwaves and heating pads in their stores to demonstrate the functionality, David said, and others use the explanatory sign that Warm Whiskers provides.

GAIN GRAINS OF WISDOM

When first starting out a business, David recommended, it’s good to get insight from industry veterans: “Speak to a mentor; speak to people who have been there before you. If you talk to them with respect, they will be more than happy to help you out as much as possible.”

From there, focus on the product itself, and then marketing. “[Our strategy is] getting our name and product marketed as much as possible,” he said, noting that the company’s best investment has been its re-done website. “Right now, our goal is to become a household name.”

SELL TO YOURSELF, THEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

David exudes high hopes for the company’s future and noted that his enthusiasm for the company is just as much, or more, than it was in the beginning. It looks as if retailers and customers share that enthusiasm, as the stores that buy from Warm Whiskers reorder at a rate of 90 percent.

The company is in the final stages of producing new product it will unveil in July for the 2008 Christmas season, he added. For the long run, the Sternlights will keep relying on quality product that produces positive customer results.

“It’s something we can truly feel we can get behind because of the testimonials Amy showed us and the feedback we’ve gotten — that kids can’t go to bed without it and adults with arthritis or any other kind of ailment swear by it,” David told TDmonthly.

See some Warm Whiskers items below:




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