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!