Two is a very popular number for mompreneur Jennifer Buck Stevens of Huntersville. Shes the proud mother of two children and she owns and operates two businesses! Jennifer began Pediatric Expressions, a speech-language therapy practice, in 1999 and CuddleTug in 2010.
Q. Why did you decide to open Pediatric Expressions?
A. Ive been a speech therapist since 1994 and saw there was a need for private speech therapy. I loved being able to work so closely with children and their families. Once I was in my third trimester with my first son William, I had to stop traveling and started seeing children in my home office. I think it adds a very comforting touch! I now work part time so that I can spend as much time with my boys as possible.
Q. Does your practice only involve speech therapy or are there other therapists in the practice?
A. Just speech-language therapy but I collaborate with other professions such as occupational therapy, psychology and educational specialists.
Q. What age do you begin working with a child with speech delays?
A. Typically, children are brought in for an evaluation around age two because for a lack of words. However, children can be seen much earlier for communication skills as well as feeding delays.
Q. What are signs that a child has speech delays?
A. It really depends on the child's age. In general, lack of words and combining words at age two, trouble following directions and understanding concepts, fluency problems, lack of interaction/eye contact, and/or sound substitutions that result in speech difficult to understand. Concerned parents can speak with their pediatrician on the best route to take and a hearing screening should be part of any evaluation.
Q. When did you get the idea for the CuddleTug?
A. I first got the idea for CuddleTug when I nursed or held my son William. He would always pinch my skin, pull my hair and tug on my jewelry. I thought to myself, "He needs his own toy!" Then Benjamin, my second son, started doing the same things when I nursed or held him. I wanted something soft and safe.
Then, because I had more time on my hands- LOL-I decided to try and make a necklace he could play with. I made some prototypes and my friend, Kim, helped me make it a stretchy necklace. I had several friends with babies try it out and give suggestions. Needless to say, it worked like a charm! My husband and I came up with the name CuddleTug during a brainstorming session on the way to the zoo!
Q. How does a CuddleTug work?
A. There are many uses for CuddleTug! First and foremost, Mom wears the CuddleTug like a necklace while holding, nursing, or bottle-feeding her baby. When a baby is three or four months, the baby will love to gaze at the colors and patterns. Once the baby starts grabbing and reaching, then the CuddleTug comes in so handy. The baby now has something to pull and tug that is fun and safe, other than mommy's hair, skin, and jewelry! Best, of all, the CuddleTug won't fall and get dirty, which is helpful in public places.
Q. Do you make each CuddleTug by hand?
A. Yes, all CuddleTugs are handmade in the USA with high quality ribbon and lots of love! There are 20 designs available online and several limited edition Cuddletugs on Etsy. I also make custom CuddleTugs to match the baby's nursery, favorite team colors, or a mommy's interest or hobby (loves dogs, music, fashion, etc.).
Q. How do you suggest a parent uses the CuddleTug other than wearing it as a necklace?
A. The CuddleTug can be strapped to a high chair at home or in a restaurant, the stroller, a baby carrier, shopping cart, or car seat. Plastic rings with small toys can also be attached to the ribbon loops. CuddleTugs make a diaper cake extra special!
Q. Where can we find Cuddle Tugs in Charlotte?
A. I have an online store at CuddleTug and on Etsy (limited Edition CuddleTugs). Storefronts that carry CuddleTug include Poppies Gifts in Huntersville, Papaya Papers in Cornelius, The Milky Way in Dilworth, Jack Be Natural @ The Boulevard in South End, The Beehive in Uptown Charlotte, A Woman's View in Presbyterian Main, The Nursing Mother's Place in Huntersville and Matthews.
Q. Does CuddleTug give back to the community?
A. CuddleTug has donated several CuddleTugs to non-profit organizations for silent auctions and fundraisers. Some non-profit organizations have also taken advantage of CuddleTug's fundraising partnership program in which a portion of sales during a specified time go back to that organization. As CuddleTug grows, so will our donations!
Q. How were you able to design the new product while running Pediatric Expressions?
A. I did most of the work on CuddleTug in the evenings and weekends.
Q. What has been your lifesaver in time management with your family and two businesses? A. That's easy, my husband, Rob! He is incredibly supportive, encouraging, and a helpful husband and daddy!! I could not do what I do without him!
You can find CuddleTug online, on Facebook on Etsy or email email@example.com. Speech-Language Therapy Jennifer Stevens, M.S., CCC-SLP Pediatric Expressions Inc. 13812 Holly Stream Drive Huntersville, NC 28078 704.756.3307 firstname.lastname@example.org