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

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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!