Hunter's Threads in Transition - July 2017

HT Update! This is only temporary. Looking for a location with parking, community of families & children (message me if you have leads) and to all who have inquired about Hunter's Threads store closure, transition plan, therapy play groups, online store, new clothing line & the future of HT, a well written article on Hoodline touches on all of the above. Although deeply saddened that we are on hold, we are still up and running online. I was excited to throw a 1 year anniversary party at the store, but I will find an alternate location for the party, so stay tuned! A huge thank you to all our donors, customers, friends, therapists, models and especially the beautiful families and kids we got a chance to work with. NOTHING touches my heart more then seeing families being able to access and attend our HT Therapy Friday Groups! I loved walking in on Friday afternoons dropping Hunter off, to be welcomed by therapists of Build, Learn Thrive. and talking with the parents and sharing our journeys, finding humor, acceptance and a sense of community. On the Hunter's Threads Clothing Brand side of things, we're excited about our new line and HT models /advocates for representing the brand. A big thank you to all our HT models (Hubert Hung & Angela Hung - photo in this article) who show us how cool it is to support kids in therapy. You don't have to be associated or familiar with these resources to give a child some extra support. Shop online and you will be doing just that! The biggest thank you to Eli Toluao for holding down the store, moving the store & best representing the brand by being who you are and getting the word out to all our customers. Phase 2, to be continued. 

http://hoodline.com/2017/08/hunter-s-threads-owner-taraval-parking-removal-led-to-store-s-closure

 

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I was recently asked: What Has Been My Biggest Challenge Starting Hunter's Threads?

I am a mom, I am a wife, but something I never thought I would be is a small business owner. That, I would have never predicted. It is interesting how my journey to help my developmentally delayed son Hunter, turned into a passion and something so different than I ever expected. As a mom, we are determined to help our children if we see that they are struggling, and my child was struggling. My first born son Hunter had problems that were proving to be overwhelming for me financially, emotionally and physically. I needed to do something to help me and to help other moms who were struggling as well. So I started a business of selling used clothing, where a portion of the profits pay for children’s occupational and speech therapy for the San Francisco community.

Starting a business never comes without challenges. The biggest challenge of starting my own business has been educating people on the mission of the store. A year ago, I didn’t even have a clue I was going to start a business, let alone a business that would benefit children who need therapy services. The therapy world is a new space for me. This has been a very raw, real and unexpected journey. As I went through the process of questioning signs that Hunter was delayed I realized I needed to get Hunter services as soon as possible.  Unfortunately I began to see him fall through the cracks on the insurance side and then again on the alternate resource/referral system side.  I felt helpless, lost and confused. I didn't know what to do, where to go and how to all of a sudden be prepared to spend up to $450 a week for 3 services (physical, speech and occupational therapy) for Hunter. I immediately thought about a way to help raise awareness and tangibly solve this issue that many others HAD to be going through. The solution I came up with was to recycle and sell children’s used clothing and take a portion of the profits to help subsidize therapy resources for children/families who were in need. I wanted to find a way to prevent families from having to jump through so many hoops to get the help that is so vital for their child’s development, especially before the age of 3. Hunter did not receive any services until after 2 years old. If the doctors and therapists were telling me it was vital to have him get services before 3, then why was it so easy for Hunter to fall through the cracks of the system?

Communicating my business model to the public is my biggest hurdle to jump over. You see, we have a different way of approaching things at Hunter’s Threads. We are not like other used clothing stores since Hunter’s Threads is not consignment store and does not buy back clothing. It is strictly a donation-based business model.

I was determined to make our store, clean, organized, stylish and a brand our families, donors and advocates would be proud to represent. We rely solely on our donors and shoppers to be pure advocates of our stores mission to keep business going. Fueled by inspiration to help other families, it took just three months from the day that we came up with idea and when we opened our doors. There is a huge need to help kids and families that have found themselves in our position or just feel like their kids need more help. I want to make sure that parents feel validated, heard and get the help they need at their discretion. The goal of the store is to be able to offer these subsidized groups throughout the week to accommodate more families.  In order to do that we need more shoppers and donations to fuel the business. We work with the same 4-5 kids a month and start a new group of 4-5 kids the next month. We started the HT Therapy Play Groups in January 2017 and we have served close to 20 kids and have a growing wait list.  At the core of our business - the more successful the store is, the more kids we can reach.

Doing all this with two toddlers and now pregnant with our third (due in June) has been quite difficult. As moms we are expected to juggle a lot because frankly, we can. The challenge is being okay with working through the night on the branding, development, events and procurement for the store while trying to stay caught up on your home and other responsibilities. When the days are slammed, it gets tough to stay relevant and raise awareness for the store while keeping a balanced life. That being said, it is purposeful living.

It’s been overwhelmingly rewarding to hear the positive response of the community, therapists, and teachers. Thankfully, many articles have been written on Hunter’s Threads because it is so different than anything else out there.  The greatest reward of all is to see the parents and children benefitting from the HT Therapy Playgroups hosted by a hand picked company that has personally helped Hunter - Build, Learn, Thrive. When I see people who wear & order Hunter’s Threads apparel, I feel a sense of pride, love and support. It’s a great feeling when a parent tells me that they can’t believe the store is providing these services/groups to their child at no cost. They ask me why I don’t charge them. At this point in time, if I charged them, then it would defeat the mission of the store and it would be another program that parents have to choose from when it is imperative that these kids get help and support now!

Hunter’s Threads has served  20 ish kids from January - April 2017 (5 kids a month - 4 week program). I’m so grateful for the many people I’ve met, the many people who want to help make this a success and especially the shoppers and donors that are directly making an impact. I’m just providing a space for them to help each other out and I love sitting back and watching it all unfold.

The HT staff have been nothing short of amazing and have really made this place what it is. The shoppers and donors love our HT squad and I wouldn't be able to balance it all without them. Thank you all!

The best way for those who want to support Hunter’s Threads is to donate clothes, refer a family whose child could use some therapy services and shop Hunter’s Threads!

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Daily Melt Downs - Anyone else experiencing these?

"Wow, you're having such a gooood day Hunter!!!!" - I try to affirm him, but in the back of my mind, I know its just a matter of time, before the next melt down hits! Is it his age or is it part of his "thing"? Yes, people say its "age appropriate" but the daily melt downs have been happening since he was tiny. It's just now he's getting bigger, longer, and stronger and I don't know how to manage it. Staying consistent in disciplining can be so tiring. I rather zone out, walk away and watch crap TV, or get on my phone to help me decompress and catch my breath. I'm learning to tune it out, but it's so hard to watch and listen to. He's now hitting walls, slamming doors and arching his back, collapsing to the ground to where I cant pick him up. The questions that run through my mind are: Is he frustrated? Will he snap out of it? Can I rationalize with him? Is he hearing me? Is he understanding my instructions to help him navigate through the melt down? Do I punish him? Do I put him on a "break"? Do I leave him alone? Do I incentive him? Do I promise him a "treat" a "present" if he snaps out of it? Does that condone bad behavior? How is it that Isla, his little sister still hasn't had any melt downs nowhere near the ones that Hunter has. The worst part is being fearful to go out in public. If I don't go out in public out of fear of him "running" or having a "freak out" - then I become a shut in, like I feel that I am. I have to mentally prepare to do anything outside of our normal routine, which is school, work, pick up and home. To go to the park, the mall, a movie, or run an errand is so different then taking Isla somewhere. She listens, even if she freaks, its manageable. Her biggest melt downs are curved with different tones used to teach her to listen.

I'm really trying to figure out what it is that he needs. Does he need me at home, to hold him more, do I diffuse melt downs with hugs and patience, do I show him that I'm the one that has to help guide him through these times and if he trusts me, he will be just fine going through it? OR does that give him more incentive to treat me like a door mat? 

It definitely adds a layer of stress on the relationship. Luckily, Jody and I know how to be a team and have had so many years of working, playing and hanging together that we click and vibe out so well. When you throw a child who is acting out behaviorally, it definitely doesn't add peace to the equation, it adds a little more chaos and triggers fuses to shorten quickly. Luckily, ,during these times one of us has more patience then the other. (usually Jody ha!)

What I do know, is that Jody and I have successfully worked as a team and have done our best to be strong in front of our kids, remain as a unit, and even a little bit of shade during those stressful moments toward each other are quenched with love. It takes time, but we reset when he is calm and we laugh later when recapping the day about what a $#i! show we just experienced. Then we wait for the next day to come to do it all again. 

Anyone else experience these melt downs? I'm hoping with more speech therapy and the ability to communicate/express himself, the melt downs and frustration will subside. So, I hope.

I have lots of questions and the only way to get these questions answered are to continue to go through the days and see what happens over time. Luckily, he is one sweet, happy ish, healthy kid. 

I'm curious to hear how others discipline and manage melt downs.

Feel free to share.

Michelle

hunter melt down in car

Approaching 3 months at HT....

There are so many things I want to write about and I have been asked to write more often, but it's been a struggle finding the time to sit and write with clear thoughts. I often wonder how other people do it all. (sigh..) We finally reached our 3 month mark and feel very accomplished! Although, I didn't have many expectations as to where the store will lead me or how successful it would be.  I do know that in my heart and in my soul, I have much peace. After coming down from a whirlwind of chaos in my personal life and not being able to believe and trust in the direction my life was heading, Hunter's Threads, (essentially Hunter) was my saving grace. This passion project has redirected my energy of creating, exploring and self reflecting, assessing what is important in my life. More than the store and a room filled with gently used clothing lies a direct connection to families and parents that are longing for these resources just like I did and for me that is worth EVERYTHING.  As inquiries trickle in from my website and I receive the screening applications from parents who have concerns about their child's development, quirks, and behavioral patterns, I get immediate confirmation that we're on the right track. It confirms that the journey I went through with Hunter was a real thing and validates all of my concerns then and now. It confirms that parents are looking for anything to help enhance their child's life and help them become as independent as possible. I don't even know what I was doing during the time, all I knew is that I felt such hopelessness. I think I was just living day by day trying to stay afloat and be on top of appointments, sickness, work and a fairly new baby (Hunter and Isla are 21 months apart). I have however, found the support that I didn't know I needed through launching Hunter's Threads. The many contacts that I have met through HT have been invaluable.  There have been so many thoughts the last several months. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how parents are expected to perform 100% at work after having children, keep their personal struggles at the door to focus on their employer's mission, when all along you feel like your personal life is falling apart. I have met so many moms that have quit their job to care for their child only because it's impossible to juggle it all. How are we supposed to find the work, life balance? I feel like my tolerance for chaos and stress is naturally pretty high and I still cant even fathom how other parents in much more severe cases handle this balance. It's pretty amazing. The many lessons I've learned personally during these 3 months, have been life changing. I'm still embracing the fact that I have a store and many responsibilities that come with it. It's a huge commitment. What I've learned business wise is that the block I'm on doesn't have much foot traffic, therefore I rely heavily on events and social media and loyal customers to help spread the word. Thank you for jumping on board with Hunter's Threads. Thank you so much to everyone who has highlighted HT. It means the world. Next blog will be about what we're doing in January! Exciting stuff to come! 

*If you're a parent who feels your child might be a little delayed like I did or feel like no one around you possesses empathy or support to help guide you, please email me or fill out the online screening form and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction. 

I included some pictures of some events we did in the last few months. If you would like to invite HT to do a pop up for an event, email me. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Friendships and FOMO

The last 3.5 months I have spent all my free time working on Hunter's Threads. The the last two weeks, I've had friends in and out of the store helping me prepare for the launch that happened 2 Saturdays ago (Sept 3rd). I had such a great time reconnecting with old friends & new friends who came to help out.  I'm amazed at how much we can get accomplished when everyone gets together.

About 4 years ago, I unknowingly,  started drifting away from close friends. Jody and I were really good at being available to hang out with friends. I would never be home and always be out and about. Jody and I were summoned by friends almost every day to be young and free. We lived life on a whim. When I was pregnant with Hunter, my new little family started taking priority. Many things in my life were very very stressful. From work, to family relationships and even friendships began to take a toll on me. I didn't really get the time to invest in my friendships like I usually would. I usually served as an ear and sound board for friends and family, but I had to create boundaries as to eliminate stress.  I'm now understanding the true meaning of friendships and relationships. I used to pride myself with having the best relationships around me, but slowly starting to see that I am at a place in life and it requires me to stay home A LOT and it doesn't allow for me to be physically present. I kind of fee like a shut in at many times. I've had my fair share of FOMO (fear of missing out), but I had to learn how to cope with staying home and living vicariously through my friends. My  job and my kids consume me, leaving me drained at the end of the day. The reason I bring up the friendships around me is because through Hunter's Threads, my journey with Hunter and the different life scenarios that have come in waves, I am realizing I have some amazing new and old relationships around me. Some are more distant, some are closer and friends that I didn't event realize cared so much were right there holding my hand through it all. I have developed even deeper friendships with people that have served as my life line. 

Hunter's Threads has been a unique way in which I have connected with more parents that are going through the same struggles and processes that I went through, understanding that the social aspect of my life has been altered and manifests itself in different ways, and being forced to be cut off from the world it seems, can be depressing at times. Kids parties aren't fun with a kid who is overly stimulated, leaving the house with a kid who has a hard time with transitions, going grocery shopping with a kid who fails to listen, hyper focuses on one thing and runs after it avoiding all safety precautions becomes exhausting. Having people over my house has literally been the only way we are able to socialize and that in itself is still rough. I know this is temporary, but during this time, I can only try to do what I can to be an advocate in this therapy world.

Thank you all for helping me with the launch and I'm excited about all new friendships that are developing. Our family has felt the support of the community and friends. Thank you.

What Is Wrong With My Baby?

In Hunter's first few months of life there were a few things that raised a concern for us and left us with many unanswered questions about his development. He is our first child which made pinpointing if something was "off" a little harder. I would ask questions like, "Why does he cry every time I put him in the car seat?, Why does he only want to be held laying on his belly in my arms facing down? Why is head so floppy? Why is his eye going in?"  These are questions I would ask the doctors and over and over I was told I was reacting. He would cry in gyms while we tried to watch a basketball game, he would cry if you took him to a mall, to a restaurant the crying never ended. The only safe and comfortable place for Hunter and I was at home or on a neighborhood walk.  Jody would often take him for a walk (held upright and close to his body) in the Bjorn.  As months went by, Hunter was not excelling or meeting the milestones that "Babycenter" would advertise. Other kids around him at the park and daycare were blowing him out of the water. No one listened to me as I vented about the things I would notice and was often told I was over reacting!  Everyone kept saying “he’s fine, he’s fine” But I knew there was something a bit off. It was hard to trust what my gut was telling me when I was surrounded by a constant chorus of "he's fine." 

As Hunter’s doctor kept telling me that he was fine, I begged for referrals but encountered  so much resistance. I asked for appointments with a physical therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, neurologist, ophthalmologist, dermatologist, genetics counselor and eventually needed to switch doctors. I was told he was fine. I mean, he was fine and healthy, but there was something off.  At 17 months, he was not walking or talking. As I looked around at the playground I could tell the gap was getting further and further apart. As a new parent I had to navigate through many different emotions wondering why my child wasn't hitting the same milestones as the kids around him.

After a rough first year of questions with no answers we finally found out that Hunter needed tubes for his ears, eye surgery (alternating estrotopia / strabismus)  and many different therapies (speech, occupational and physical). He had and still has sensory overload and cannot physically or emotionally handle transitions. Therefore he acts out behaviorally. He is at his best when he is being played with, touched in a calm way, and is prepped for a transition - this is hard to do when running daily errands. He finds safety with a selected few that all have the same demeanor in temperament and is the most happy and engaging when he is home, in a familiar environment or outdoors with trees, the playground and surrounded by fresh air. He does not have a diagnosis, but we’ve  been told by his neurologist that he has Hypotonia. I cried for many nights when they told me this information only because I was uncertain how this could affect his development and quality of life in general. I was caught off guard and immediately overwhelmed when a medical name was given to us.  At that point I did everything I could to get Hunter the therapy he needed. I'm still new to this world and have a lot more to learn. 

Through this journey, through self-assessment, I have found a need for both a new outlet as well as new passions that have surfaced while being a mom to Hunter.

Thankfully through all of this Hunter has been such a joy and is the most loving and entertaining soul. Throughout my journey with Hunter  I often found myself being completely drained by the end of the day. I asked his doctor several times for resources but she insisted he was fine. She then referred me to a state funded program, nonchalantly, when he was 17 months old - I was persistent and aggressive to get Hunter into the program requesting double/triple therapy a week to make up for the lost time. This means he didn't receive therapy until he was over 2 years old and the program was an "early intervention" program that only went to 3 years old (when the brain develops the most between 1-3 years old). This meant they were doing all they could to get him the therapy he needed in a short amount of time.

I sat in assessments, appointments and therapy often in tears but was hopeful because I finally felt like the therapists understood Hunter and our situation.  Getting to that point was a different story. I finally had the resources and the support to get Hunter on the right track, to find the therapies and instruction that he needed but I would often sit there and think about the other moms who didn't have access to these resources or might've given up along the way because of the complexity of attaining services. By this thought alone I would be brought to tears.

Jody and I are doing this as a way to give back to kids who need the help but cannot afford it, parents who don't have the flexibility in their schedule or access to being mobile or or impaired themselves! My goal is to find the love and support and connection with other parents. Which I have not received. I want Hunter's Threads to shed light on the world of therapy and help all the other little Hunter's out there that need advocates and people to fight for them! 

Inception of Hunter's Threads May 21, 2016

Hunter's Threads began as a passion project on May 21, 2016. There were a series of events that led to starting this company. My son Hunter was born in 2013 and I had a very normal pregnancy and delivery. Throughout my journey of being a new mom, I started realizing that Hunter wasn't hitting the same milestones as other kids. As I looked for direction and support from family, friends and doctors, they would say what most people would say, "he's fine". I quickly realized, that it was up to me to do something about it. Throughout all the politics and bureaucracy of medical insurance and withholding resources, being referred out, and Hunter falling through the cracks on every end, Jody and I knew this journey wasn't going to be easy. Getting therapy is not an easy process.

Once Hunter turned 3 years old, his services ended and private speech, occupational and physical therapy cost from $90-$150 an hour per service. Each assessment was costing $375. A 6 month membership to clinics were averaging $10,000. There was no way that I would be able to afford 3 therapies a week, taking him to the appointments and still finding time to work full time, be available to my daughter Isla and conquer normal life stresses.

I quickly realized that there is a need here and I want to be the one to make it easier for families to get help. The goal of Hunter’s Threads is to form a community that is excited about therapy. A community of people to advocate for the brand, assist with procurement of kids clothing, volunteerism, community and having fun while doing it.

Hunter’s Threads is an online and brick and mortar store that sells used and new clothing. Hunter’s Threads is seeking partnerships, therapists, learning specialists, clinics, schools, day cares, businesses and anyone who is interested in making Hunter's Threads succeed. This is a new world for me.

Thank you for supporting Hunter's Threads.

 

Pivoting = Self Reflection & Positivity!

I can't believe I'm opening a store!

Within a month of putting together Hunter's Threads, we found a place! With limited resources, funding and time - we found the perfect location. I keep thinking, how did I get here? The support from the people that were there for me for the last few years with Hunter being sick, noticing developmental delays all while balancing family/work stress has forced me self reflect the last few months. With many sleepless nights filled with tears, heartache, confusion and self doubt, I went through a phase of feeling so drained from the day that I would just sleep off the stress. Having to balance kids, schedules, personal obligations and trying to spend the necessary amount of time with both Hunter and Isla - it finally caught up to me.

 
Hunter's Thread's is officially a store!

Hunter's Thread's is officially a store!

 

For many years I've carried the burden of being a problem solver and not ever really feeling free in my spirit, but found validation in making sure that people were taken care of. It is actually a huge part of what I do for work especially growing up in a small family non -profit. In the middle of transition and added stresses my husband and I decided to take a much needed break. We finally redeemed our two-time canceled trip, Jody and I canceled our vacation 2 years in a row because our kids were very very sick and life didn't really allow for us to take time off. Finally, we are here in Hawaii enjoying time to think and regroup and plan HT. As I sit here I'm reminiscing about the last few months and how far we've come as a family. I know that it's only by God's grace we are in a much healthier situation. It's crazy to think that my whole perception of happiness has shifted. I know that pivoting in life is a positive thing, but also risky.  My dad has been a prime example of achieving things that seem impossible and in his innocence of making a difference he has been able to teach me that there are no limits. There are few people that have shown much support, love and encouragement to get me through some pretty tough times. Recently we had friends come over for hours encouraging me to make a change and ultimately challenged me to pursue change. I literally couldn't even wrap my brain around that simple concept. Here we are, ready to launch an actual store! 

The amount of feedback and positivity from people i know and don't know is making me feel like this is taking a life of it's own. This project will be a work in progress and I will be updating as we make strides! The story of how I got this place is truly a miracle in itself. Confirmation that I have to be doing the right move for not only my family but the families and kids that will benefit from these resources! I'm excited to learn, meet new people and explore the world of retail, kids and therapy!

Email me if you would like to be part of the Hunter's Threads Family. We are just starting, so volunteers with skill sets are always welcomed!!

Chat soon!

 
Outer Sunset Location

Outer Sunset Location

Thank you to Peter and Clinton for believing in Hunter's Threads. Beautiful people.

Thank you to Peter and Clinton for believing in Hunter's Threads. Beautiful people.

 

What is Hunter's Threads?

Hunter's Threads consists of 2 channels: 

1. Selling Hunter's Threads Merchandise online and in store to people who want to advocate & represent the brand and financially contribute to kids in therapy  (physical, occupational, speech, music, and art). *because we are a new business, we will start with speech & occupational and move into physical, music and art therapy - all therapies will begin in 2017.

2. Used and new kids clothing (books, toys, and accessories) at an actual brick and mortar store located in the Outer Sunset - The brick and mortar store will be used to schedule therapy, play groups hosted by therapists in the store and through Hunter's Threads and it's partners.

*Grand Opening scheduled for August 14, 2016

Hunter's Threads Mission:

Hunter's Threads is a brand that is committed to selling used children's and women's clothing and HT merchandise. A portion of sales will go towards providing free therapy (via clinics, therapists, programs)/ play based sessions hosted by therapists, clinics, & other third party organizations that are committed to help children with developmental delays.

Ways You can get involved:

1. Become a Hunter's Threads Brand Rep. Purchase Hunter's Threads Merchandise online or in store. Take photos in HT Merchandise, share, tag, post on social media. 

2. Get your company, school, organization buy Hunter's Threads Merchandise, host clothing drives for gently used children's clothing

3. Volunteer your skills to help formalize the company - email resume's to michelle@huntersthreads.com

4. Find donors that will provide seed money to get the company up and going

5. Refer any therapists, learning & behavioral specialists, companies, web developers, app developers, designers, marketing, photgraphers, bloggers, videographers, investors, and any other resources that Hunter's Threads could benefit from

6. Become a partner. Your logo will be on the Hunter's Threads website and partners are committed to representing the brand and contributing financially. For more information on how to become a partner, please email contact@huntersthreads.com

7. Like & rate Hunter's Threads on social media and follow, tag, post, share Hunter's Threads on Instragram, FB, Twitter #officialhuntersthreads #huntersthreads #threadsfortherapy

8. Join our mailing list.

Thank you for your support and patience as we are building the brand....

Cheers!

Michelle, Jody, Hunter and Isla

 

Hunter Hulk Hands