As a parent, the most fulfilling thing is watching your child master a new skill on his or her own. There is no greater joy than watching each milestone take place. Teaching our children new skills is our pleasure but constantly having to practice them can get frustrating.
From lawyer to product developer, Maya Shalev loved problem-solving but didn't love the aggressiveness of litigation. She did mediation training at the Los Angeles Attorney's office before getting pregnant with her daughter, Alma.
As a stay at home mom for a few years, Maya was able to apply her problem-solving skills when she developed, with her dad, products that were missing in the market.
In 2014, Maya found herself at a crossroads when her father passed away while she was three months pregnant. Finding herself in this new situation, Maya decided to take a break to cope with the loss of her father and focus her energy on the new life she was bringing into the world.
In 2015, Maya found herself with a new challenge when her six-month-old son, Amit, was learning how to self-feed. This obstacle reignited her passion for developing a product that would not only solve the need for her son but other moms going through similar scenarios.
Off the bat, she noticed that baby utensils aren't designed with babies in mind. The handles were too long and her son couldn't hold the utensil naturally. She decided to melt down cheap forks to create a shorter, thicker handle. The first mold was created out of Playdough, a common medium in a house with kids.
The next phase was to create a set of utensils, the most expensive pair of fork and spoon she's ever invested in, a whopping $400 for a 3D printed set! Using her son as a guinea pig to test out the new utensils Maya noticed that the handle was on the thin side so she went back to the drawing board and designed a teardrop-shaped handle.
She took this prototype to a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for some feedback to make sure she was developing the right product. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The Occupational Therapist told Maya that the [grabease utensils] "make a great developmental product for children ages 4 months and up. grabease supports fine motor skill development and independent feeding skills."
The inspiration to go back in business to not only create but give back was through the social initiative she saw in the Toms brand spearhead. When grabease was being packed and shipped, Maya partnered with The Harvest Home, a non-profit organization that helps homeless pregnant women get back on their feet.
The grabease design was immediately patented in 2016 and sent to production. A soft launch was introduced via Amazon to see if there was a need for the product. Maya designed the product with the intention that nine-month-old children and older would be using the product but to her surprise moms were excited to share photos and videos of their six-month-old babies self-feeding with grabease.
Grabease was tagged by tons of moms on social media, gushing with excitement that their kids were independently eating with the utensils.
The pivotal change for the brand was at the JPMA trade show. The last day of the show is open to consumers and the excitement and the crowd around the grabease booth was proof that the brand was going to be high in demand. Shortly after, all products were sold out on Amazon as well. Before long, the grabease website launched!
Not only was Grabease helping babies learn how to independently feed themselves, it was helpful for differently-abled children as well. Parents were sharing how Grabease utensils were helping their children with cerebral palsy or down syndrome. This was heartwarming and impactful for Maya.
Different organizations that helped children with different abilities were now reaching out to the brand for support. Without hesitation, Grabease donated products to help and promote the development of independent eaters. With the word spreading, Maya found herself getting emails and calls from Occupational Therapists that were interested in trying out the product in their clinics and then endorsing the product. Another win for Grabease!
In Quarter 1 of 2017, Maya graduated from the kitchen to the garage. Soon after, Nordstroms and other independent retailers picked up the brand and Grabease moved into an office space in 2018.
Grabease is now available in 300 stores and internationally, accessible in over 15 countries and expanding rapidly!
Maya didn't stop there. The Grabease toothbrush was the next product created. Thought of and designed by Maya's then 8-year-old daughter, Alma. The idea came to her when she saw the struggles her parents were having when trying to brush her little brothers' teeth, Amit.
Alma sketched the design and 2 years later the design came to life. The toothbrush was a hit. So much so that most kids don’t want to put it down! [Learn more about proper toothbrush use here].
Maya and the team of moms take pride in developing products that provide solutions for families around the world while helping children in need. Grabease is excited to continue launching innovative and helpful products for other parents because being a parent is a lot of work and we want to alleviate unnecessary stress so you can enjoy the best moments with your growing tot!